What is Love? Just Ask a Troll!

Trolls

WARNING: The following post is rated “S” for “Spoilers”…But seriously, if you haven’t seen Frozen at this point then you are even further under a rock than I am :p

Well, we’ve finally done it. After a year of holding out, we finally bought the movie Frozen and spent an evening as a family watching it. Since that time we have been continuously serenaded with everything from “Let It Go” to “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” The kids love this movie! And who could blame them?! It has a walking snowman for comic relief!!!

But as I’ve been thinking about this film (I’ve had a lot of time on my hands) I’ve started to wonder if we, as a society, have gotten this movie all wrong. Here’s what I mean. Two of the most beloved songs – “Let It Go” and “Love Is An Open Door” – are also two of the most relationally dysfunctional songs in the whole movie.

Let’s take “Love Is An Open Door” first. The whole song is based on the idea that what really matters in a relationship is “hitting it off” on the first date. And yet, everything in the song that the two characters – Anna and Hans – celebrate is superficial. They have an awesome conversation. They “finish each other’s sentences”. And yet, we later find out that Anna doesn’t even know Hans’ last name. Furthermore, once she actually gets to know him she finds out that he is a closet sociopath bent on Scandinavian domination. In fact several times during the movie Anna is criticized for falling for this guy so hard even though they’ve just met.

However, kids and adults alike love singing this song. Why? I think it is because this is how our society tends to think about love.  It is something magical and instantaneous. For it to be “true love” there has to be this instant attraction and connection. So we go out on dates with insanely high standards looking for the “perfect” person with whom we just “click”: the veritable prince or princess of our dreams. We want that “falling in love” feeling and if we don’t feel it on that first shot then he/she must not have been the right person for us.

And this brings us to the other song:  “Let It Go”. This song has been sung, covered, re-enacted and lip sunk (is that a word?) to death. It is, hands down, the song of the film.  But let’s stop and think about this song for a second. It is sung by a character (Elsa) who, out of fear, runs away from her home, turns her back on the one person who loves her (her sister Anna), and chooses to isolate herself from all relationships and social contact. While she proclaims that she is finally “free,” in reality she is alone. Sure, she has the awesome Ice Palace, but she has no one to share it with. Furthermore, her “freedom” isn’t actually able to cure the thing that drove her up there in the first place:  her fear.

Yet we sing this song like it is the power ballad of the century. We belt it out in our cars and sign major pop stars like Demi Lovato to cover it. And, again, I think this says something about our culture. Sure, we want the romance of “Love Is An Open Door”, but we also want the freedom and individualism of “Let It Go”. But all we end up with is shallow relationships and the “freedom” of loneliness. Neither of these songs really gets at the heart of what true love is really about.

So what does? Well, the answer is found in another song in the movie. “Fixer Upper” by the Trolls. You know, that one song that is so fast that no one can sing it? That’s the one I’m talking about. What is so great about this song is that the Trolls reveal that they actually understand what love is really about.  It’s summed up in a couple of great lines:

We’re not sayin’ you can change him,
‘Cause people don’t really change.
We’re only saying that love’s a force
That’s powerful and strange.
People make bad choices if they’re mad,
Or scared, or stressed.
But throw a little love their way,
And you’ll bring out their best.

We need each other
To raise us up and round us out.
Everyone’s a bit of a fixer-upper,
But when push comes to shove.
The only fixer-upper fixer
That can fix a fixer-upper is true love

Yup, that’s right. We’re all fixer uppers. Each one of us comes into a relationship with flaws and baggage.  Which is why finding the perfect relationship is so hard. Because the moment you find it, you mess it up simply by being a part of it!!! Furthermore, true love involves a willingness to be shaped by the other person. Though we don’t change who we are at our core, relationships have a way of both raising us up, but also rounding us out.  They polish off the rough edges and works on the flaws, all in the context of commitment and grace-giving between two people. The trolls get it right…kind of.

Wait! What? Yeah, you heard me right. The trolls are only partially right, because even at the end of their song they think that the solution to the problem is found in romance: a true love’s kiss. However, at the end of the movie Anna finally sees what true love really looks like. She discovers it when, in a moment of selfless love, she defends her sister at the risk of her own life. The truth is that, up to that point, Elsa had done nothing to deserve Anna’s love. For years she had shut her out and kept her at arms length. And yet, in that moment of desperate need, Anna laid down her life for her sister. You want to know what true love looks like? It looks like self-sacrifice. It looks like hardship and risk. It looks like throwing yourself in front of the sword for someone who has shut you out, abandoned you, and left you with nothing but a frozen heart.

FullSizeRender

And this is where I think that Christianity has something to offer when it comes to thinking about love.  You see, for Christians the essence of love is found in Jesus Christ.  In Jesus we see a God who loves us so much that he enters our world, lives among us, walks with us, feels our pain, and ultimately dies for us, even as we are the ones wielding the hammer and nails. Though we push God away time-and-again, He pursues us in love. He takes all the punishment that we can dole out and embraces us anyways. And when we face judgment for all the wrong we’ve done, He takes our place, dies for us, and reconciles us to Himself forever. That is the central story of the Christian faith.

So imagine the radical effect that this story would have if it were lived out in human relationships? What if we started to see each other as God sees us? What if in our relationships we were willing to admit that we are not perfect and be okay with the fact that other people aren’t either, because we know that we are loved by God anyways? What if, when we are hurt, we extended the same grace and forgiveness that God has shown us? I think that this is why the apostle Paul compared Christian marriages and relationships to the kind of relationship that Jesus has with His people (see Ephesians 5:21-33). He is saying that when we see the love that God has for us it radically reshapes our relationships. It helps us see our relationships as places for repentance and forgiveness, vulnerability and grace. Furthermore, it gives us a well-spring to draw upon when the going gets tough by reminding us that God loves us even when we are unloveable, and helps us to love others in the same way.

This is what true love looks like. It looks like a God who loves us, forgives us, and gave Himself up for us so that we might have a restored relationship with him. That is the true love which brings out the best.

PS Yes…I did just make Frozen about Jesus. You can thank me later :p

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