“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.
And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.”1 John 3:18-24 MSG
If you have children under the age of 18, you probably have every word of the movie Frozen memorized. I love this movie. I love the moment at the end, when Elsa realizes what it is she needs to heal her sister and her world. (Spoiler alert! But honestly, if you haven’t seen this movie yet, where have you been the last eight years?) There’s Anna, frozen solid in the middle of the fjord. Elsa embraces her and sobs over her lost sister. Suddenly, Anna starts to defrost!
Olaf whispers, “Only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart.” and Elsa replies. “Love will thaw. Love. Of course. Love.”
But it wasn’t just Anna’s heart and the frozen fjord that needed to be thawed. Throughout the movie, Elsa lived in fear and “debilitating self-criticism.” She didn’t love her own gifts and her own self. She didn’t know that love “is greater than our worried hearts.”
How do we “shut down debilitating self criticism,” stop “accusing or condemning ourselves,” and become “bold and free before God”? Through Jesus Christ and the power of his resurrection, the promise of his great love, and his commandment to love each other, to not just talk about love but to “practice real love.” When we learn how to love each other, we break the chains of our own self-condemnation. When we love each other, we are empowered by God’s Spirit to live boldly and freely.
As Paul says in Romans 8:1-2, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
He has set you free! Stop bashing yourself, berating yourself, condemning yourself, bullying yourself, accusing yourself, and hating yourself, and step into love: through the intentional act of loving others, you will be freed from the condemnation that freezes your own heart. Acts of true love will thaw frozen hearts, particularly your frozen heart.
Points of Reflection
- In what ways does negative self-talk poison your ability to love yourself? How might these same thoughts influence your ability to love others?
- Reflect on the last week: what intentional acts of love did you practice? What intentional acts of love can you incorporate into your day today?
For the Kids
- God loves you SO much, and made you in God’s image. If God made you, then you must be loved. What does it mean to you to be loved so much by God?
- In what ways can you show love to others around you, at school or at home?
Make a list of the lies or falsehoods you find yourself repeating over and over again. Now, write the opposite of those. For instance, if you find yourself gazing upon your reflection and thinking, “I’m disgusting,” the opposite of this is, “I’m beautiful,” because God created all things, and all things made are deeply loved and cared for and treasured, like a precious jewel, by the Father of all things.
One of the most influential books for me as a young Christian was the novel Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It is based on the Book of Hosea in the Bible, and it captures the lengths God is willing to go to love us. At the same time, it demonstrates the call God puts upon us to love others, even those who have in no way earned our love.
Listen or read online through your local library’s Libby app, or buy on Amazon.com or through a local independent bookstore near you.