My sister and I love Frozen. Okay, maybe we’ve all heard “Let it Go” enough times by now, but there’s something about this sweet story of the love between two sisters that connects with our hearts, and I almost always tear up at the climax when Elsa is hugging Anna-turned-to-ice.
Plus, all the little Scandinavian cultural touches are fun for us, since a lot of our family heritage (and our names) are Swedish and Danish. We’ve given each other Anna and Elsa birthday cards, and I gave my sister a mug that says, “Keep Calm and Let it Go” (well, it is a catchy song!).
And so, when Frozen 2 came out, of course we had to see it together. Going to the movies is a bit more complicated with a baby, but my mom was happy to keep Aeron, so in January—back when going to places like movie theaters was still perfectly normal—off we two sisters went to Frozen 2. (Well, actually, our first attempt failed as the movie projector broke, but that’s another story.) Eventually, we sat in a working theater with that familiar, haunting Nordic music washing over us with the opening credits.
I enjoyed the story right from the beginning—the animation, music, and characters all seemed to take a step deeper with this sequel. But what brought me to tears this time wasn’t mainly the poignant power of sisterly love, though that still got me. It was an aspect of the story that I really didn’t expect.
In this film, Anna and Elsa have overcome a lot—Elsa has learned to control her powers, the evil Hans of the Southern Isles is only a distant (and for Anna, embarrassing) memory, and Anna and Kristoff are happily in love–and soon to be engaged, if endearingly clumsy Kristoff can manage to pull off the proposal. Olaf is his snowy, warm-hug-loving self, even if he waxes a bit pensive on life’s uncertainties and the perils (or perks) of growing older.
But then—there’s always a “but” in a good story, isn’t there?—suddenly all is not well anymore. Arendelle is shaken—literally. The elements of fire, wind, water, and earth seem to be going crazy. The kingdom has to evacuate when the ground actually begins to roll beneath their feet. And Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf embark on a quest for an ancient, enchanted forest to find out why.
The princesses eventually realize that Arendelle’s current troubles date back to something that happened long before their time…when their grandfather and his generation committed a great injustice against another people group. Now, for whatever reason, that brokenness is coming to light. And taking the step to fix those broken foundations ends up falling on Anna’s slender shoulders.
It’s not an easy step—in fact, it’s a costly one, a risky one, one that might seem, on the surface, crazy. But as Anna says when trying to convince an older army officer to help her, “Arendelle has no future until we make this right.” And just because she wasn’t the one to commit the wrong in the first place, doesn’t mean she holds no responsibility for doing so. When I watched this portion of the film, tears streamed down my cheeks. Because though I didn’t expect it, and I don’t know how intentional it was on the filmmakers’ part, I saw my country on that big screen.
I saw America.
I kept thinking of how this country, whose history I once adored, was built on broken foundations—how, while claiming to be a place where “all men are created equal” and that promotes “liberty and justice for all,” it was largely grown on slave labor and built on land and resources taken through essential genocide. How, while claiming to be “one nation under God,” we American Christians have often equated Christ with Christendom and blasphemed in how we have represented Him. I thought of Mark Charles and how he has helped me see that we can’t move forward toward healing as a nation until we deal with our broken foundations—not just with surface apologies, but with willingness to take actual steps of repentance and lament and change and even restitution (inherently biblical), even if it costs us.
I considered blogging my thoughts at the time, but I didn’t feel quite ready. Plus, in Arendelle, they didn’t discover their broken foundations—they didn’t see or feel the need to make anything right—until they were seriously shaken. What, I wondered, would it take to shake America?
Well, a shaking has certainly come, hasn’t it, friends?
Over the last few months, our world, and certainly our country, have been shaken deeply. Between the lockdown of society through a global pandemic and freshly exposed racial injustice leading to major unrest on top of that, many of us have been shaken. I have been, even though I’ve been on this journey of learning about racial justice and reconciliation for some years now. I’ve been humbled anew, and realized how far I still have to go, and been encouraged by how I see the Lord working, and through the fellowship and bridge-building of friends.
We still have a long way to go. But I want to encourage us—me included—to not be afraid to press into the shaking. To be willing to take risks, and dig deep, and take steps that might seem a little extreme or costly…to work towards actually hearing each other, to feel the pain of those different from us and realize that injustice anywhere should be all of our pain—that we are in this together. To be willing to take a metaphorical “rock” to some of our “American idols” (ideas, not just statues), if clinging to them is hurting our brothers and sisters, and hurting us as a country. To seek the Lord in what He wants us to do, with the unique gifts and strengths and connections He has given us. To step out in faith to “do the next right thing,” as Anna does, and trust that the Lord is big enough to catch us when we fall, and maybe help us repair those broken foundations, one step at a time.
So what about you? How are you surviving this “shaking”? Has the Lord been nudging your heart as to what He might be asking you to do in response? I’d love to hear your thoughts.