For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.
-Jesus (Luke 9:24)
A movie that I despise has become a memory that I love.
I helped out at a "Frozen" themed kids event several years ago that left me changed forever. I ran the karaoke machine as a long line of 5 year old girls sang "Let it Go" 26 TIMES STRAIGHT. After that (seriously), I had a bit of trauma surrounding the musical Frozen. But when my daughter was a part of a local performance of Frozen Jr.last week, I tried to “let it go” and enjoy the musical once again. And I did.
Something beautiful about the storyline struck me in a fresh way. When the young sister becomes accidentally struck in the heart with an ice spell and is slowly freezing to death, she learns that only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart.
It’s assumed that this act of true love is something that needs to be done “to her”. Perhaps it will be a kiss from her love, perhaps someone will act dramatically to rescue her. We don’t know.
But at the end of the story (SPOILER ALERT), though dying herself, she throws herself in front of a sword to protect her older sister. Though it appears at first that she becomes a frozen statue, moments later she begins to melt and is whole again.
It’s her own act of love that thaws the heart. It’s her effort to bring healing to another that enables healing in her.
In our faith, we absolutely trust Jesus to be the one who brings ultimate healing and wholeness. But within that life, sometimes we go through seasons of frozen hearts where hurt, bitterness, anger or loss take over. During those times, we may be waiting for an act of love toward us to help thaw us out, when what we really need is to move beyond ourselves and act selflessly. When we look around the world and continue to love and serve radically, putting others first, we often find that there is healing in that journey. Indeed, perhaps we cannot be healed until that happens.
Maybe this is why Jesus said that if we don’t forgive others, our heavenly father won’t forgive us (Mt. 5:15). Instead of God holding a grudge or trying to teach us a lesson, maybe Jesus is hinting at the fact that until we lay down our own lives for others in forgiveness and service, we will never be able to grasp the depth of Jesus laying down his life for us. By participating in the healing of others, we open ourselves up to God’s healing.
The famous prayer of St. Francis, which I have come to value so much that I speak it aloud every morning, speaks of this beautiful truth in its final three lines.
Lord make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sew love,
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console.
To seek to be understood as too understand.
To seek to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
Part of our own healing process, over and over again, is learning to love and act redemptively toward others in spite of our own wounds. And many times, as we practice that love again and again, we find that we are not only a healing agent in the life of another, but that God uses that humble willingness to do something miraculous in us as well.
Where are you frozen right now, standing paralyzed and unable to move on? Choose today to look up and look out, laying down your own life, and you just might find that Jesus picks it up and restores it for you in a new way.
Jesus, give me courage to love well today, even when I feel weary myself.