Frozen was not what I expected. I loved it, yet it depressed me. From the beginning of the film I felt an incredible empathy with Elsa and her struggles. During “Let It Go” I hid my face behind my daughter and wept where no one could see, but I wanted to lift my arms and shed my cape and belt out each word along with Elsa. The frozen wasteland, the rising storm and the fierce joy she found in her isolation all echoed her soul’s cry in a poignant way as she rejected her wounded relationships and embraced her talent at last.
The rest of the movie passed in a blur, and the conclusion found me restless and dissatisfied. Not because it was a bad ending; I loved the ending. But the ending had happened for Elsa, not me. I still felt as if my heart was up in my ice castle brewing a storm that could harm everyone I cared about. I was still shouting “Let It Go!” while Elsa was back to singing happy songs and utilizing her talent to benefit her loved ones.
Others may relate to Anna, or Olaf, or even Sven. For me, Frozen was all about Elsa, a woman learning to cope with a talent that seemed to have little value to those she loved. Let it Go was the cry of her soul, but it was not the solution to her problem.
Elsa is in that lonely position of being talented in a direction that seems at best useless and at worst damaging to others. When she denied her talent it resulted in isolation, in loss of self and an inability to function in basic ways. When she embraced her gift and rejected those who did not understand, it still resulted in isolation and her gift began to consume her. Neither path brought happiness or fulfillment.
As the creative mother of young children, both feelings are ones I know well. My abilities, from writing to crafting to identifying woodland plants, are not abilities that lend themselves to the daily practicality of life. For many years I have vacillated between ignoring my creative talent as I strive to achieve order in my home and recklessly creating at the expense of those dependent upon me. I might not pick up a book for months, because books make me need to write. Then I suddenly find myself reading and writing while meals are skipped and clothes pile up.
As spring comes on I feel once more the overwhelming urge to read and write, to run through the woods and explore the lake and crochet tiny bits of elegant lace that will never be used in my messy home, and to stop caring about the state of my house. Frozen was a timely movie that reminded me there is a balance between denying talent and denying responsibility.
Elsa and I are not the first folks to be caught in the age-old struggle of deciding how to control our talents without rejecting them. Jesus taught a parable on this subject in Matthew 25.
The thing about talent is that if we hide it away, we don’t know what to do with ourselves. But if we let it run rampant, others don’t know what to do with us. This doesn’t just apply to creative folks, either. It applies to gifted children, to efficient people, to empathetic listeners and introverts and extroverts and cooks and hunters and pretty much any area anyone is extraordinarily talented in.
Eventually Elsa’s family did appreciate her gift, but only once she could control it. Our gifts can (and do) cause pain to others unless we bridle them. It was not her grand palace of ice that endured but rather her rough little snowman; hardly a masterpiece but born from both her talent and her love.
If you are one of those folks who is so sick of hearing Let It Go that you are inspired to create hilarious songs like this one, it would be wise to ask yourself why your loved ones enjoy this song. Is it merely because of the catchy tune, or is it because they feel the echo of the words and understand the wild joy that comes from finally using a long-suppressed gift? Do they have a talent they have set aside in order to love you?
If you are one who relates deeply to Elsa and longs to “Let It Go” right along with her, remember that this song, this feeling, this wild release of talent that only benefits self, was not the answer.
To control a gift while embracing it, to find productive outlets for creativity, is what Elsa represents. She represents hope for those talents we have locked away down inside because those we love see no use for them.