Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Of Ice and Men

There was a lot of hype surrounding the theatre release of Frozen. I was finishing up my last semester at BYU-Idaho and so I decided to wait until it was available on Netflix and watch it at home. When we did I was really surprised to learn that Elsa is the villain and the moral of the story was more about love overcoming personal differences than about doing what’s right for you. You know the only thing I ever hear people reference about Frozen? Elsa’s show-stopping song “Let it Go”. Here are some snippets of that song:

"I don't care what they're going to say! Let the storm rage on, the cold never bothered me anyway"

"It's time to see what I can do... No right, No wrong, no rules for me I'm free!"

How did a story about sacrificing oneself for the benefit of another get turned into a story about girl who did what was right for her? How did Elsa become the heroin for turning her back on her kingdom rather than for healing her sister? How did “Let it Go” become the anthem of this movie and go on to win an Academy Award and a Grammy?

During my last semester at BYU-Idaho, I was enrolled in a class which discussed cultural differences  between America and most of the rest of the world pertaining to the practice of Psychology. Two of the most widely used motto's which seems common place in America but strange in other countries are “do what’s right for you” and “you have to love yourself before you can love another”.  What bothers me about these two snippets of advice is where do you stop? Aren’t they both supremely suggestive? Taking the advice to “do what’s right for me”, when led to its’ logical conclusion, could allow me to do whatever I wanted because what’s right for me is inside myself and no one can tell me what’s right for me is wrong. Don’t judge. And likewise, when have you ever thought to yourself “You know, I have enough self-love, it’s time to love someone else”? I feel that’s why Frozen seems only remembered for “Letting it Go” because the song embodies the mantras todays culture lives by. “No right, no wrong, no rules for me- I’m free!”

A couple of years ago I came across a blog post that has really stuck with me. The blog post is entitled “My Life is Not my Own” and in it, the writer tells a story of when her mother came to the conclusion her life is not hers to have and to hold but to share. I began repeating this in regards to my husband. When we were first married I wanted him home beside me all the time and yet between work and church responsibilities  he seemed never to be home. One day, while complaining in my mind that I was having to share my husband too much, I applied this title to express “My husband is not my own”. I don’t mean this in a fidelity way but in a Godly way. He is God’s servant and commissioned to do the will of God. Thinking that I was completely selfless for letting others borrow my husband to move their stuff or teach them or meet for study groups, I have come to realize I have never really seen the truthfulness of the mantra “My Life is Not My Own” until I had a child.

Of course I had heard before the idea that children change your life and things you may have taken for granted before (like using the bathroom in private) are long sought after once children are around. But in my experience nothing is my own. When I was pregnant my body was not my own but mine and my child’s. What I put in to my body affected her. That continues after the baby is born (if nursing). My energy is not my own to use how I would, but is my baby’s. My sleep is not my own. My house is not my own. My stuff is not my own (she is very grabby these days…). My money is not my own. My time is not my own. Nothing is “mine”.

When I was a senior in high school, I came to a crossroads. Two messages had been taught to me exclusively and I was trying to find a way to combine them. One message was that I was to be a mother. Another message was to be ambitious and follow my dreams. Some women are able to combine the two messages and carry on down the road, but I decided to choose to be ambitious and follow my dreams. I did what was right for me. I heeded not the council of those around me and thus did not care what other people said. I let go of a lot of the things I had been taught and, in effect,  let go of who I was. Down this road all I found were thorns and potholes to trip over. I unknowingly searched for someone to help me and luckily found someone. But not soon enough to not have hurt people. Not soon enough to make a positive impression on those I came into contact with. Not soon enough to not have regrets about that part of my life.

Thankfully, I met my husband and we embarked to turn around and go down the other road- the road towards having a family. And now that I have my baby, I learn every day the truthfulness of the words "my life is not my own". But I don't bemoan this fact. I am grateful! I am grateful my life has more meaning than me. "You can't achieve your life's purpose by trying to achieve your life's purpose". Jesus likewise said “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself... For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” Matt 16:24-23. Jesus also never once said to make sure you as an individual are loved by you before you give any love to others.  He said “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” Matt 7:12; and “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” Matt 5:43-44 

(And lest we fear that we only have so much love to give so it would be best to save our love for those we choose, Jesus further explains: For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again Luke 6:32-35)

I know I am at the beginning of my motherhood journey but I hope I can keep as a mantra “my life is not my own”. I hope I can teach my kids that their actions affect others and so they should be concerned for others (even more than themselves). I also hope I never have to hear “Let it Go” ever again.

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