I’ve watched the movie Frozen several times; partly because of my grandkids and partly because I like the songs. I’ve thought about a frozen heart a lot. I used to have one. I felt frozen for a long time. I wouldn’t allow much to touch my heart. I learned early in my marriage that the heart needs I had were not going to be met. My response was to stop needing. Just stop wanting whatever it was. It was never going to happen.
I have always felt that the love I have to give is just not the right kind of love. That the way I love was wrong. I was convinced of this because of a plethora of criticism over the course of my relationship. I can remember saying one day during my daughter’s pregnancy that I was so looking forward to the birth of my grandchild because then I could love him the way I needed to, the way I longed to. He wouldn’t tell me that I was doing it wrong or make me feel less or unworthy because I didn’t meet his expectations. He wouldn’t have any expectations.
There is a bond between myself and my oldest grandson that is a thing of beauty. To hear him say “Mimi” with a smile in his eyes and joy in his voice is overwhelming sometimes. I look at him and I hurt with the force of love that I have for him. He’s not a perfect child by any means, but he doesn’t have to be for me. He doesn’t have to behave perfectly, to always say the right thing, do the right thing. My love for him isn’t based on his behavior. I love him just because he’s my grandson. I am sitting here writing this, thinking about how much I love him, and it makes tears well up in my eyes. I love that child. Oh how I love that child!
I have been taken off guard sometimes with the love that I feel for him. I am someone who has struggled with love, with the concept and the reality of it, for what seems like most of my life. I am a cause and effect person. I see an action or event, I observe the reaction or effect, and draw conclusions based on that observation. I was raised by imperfect parents with their own struggles and emotional crises, their own causes and effects, and perhaps I learned early that my behavior impacted the love I received from them. Whether this was a result of their actions or my perceptions, I don’t truly know and can’t say. And honestly, it doesn’t matter at this point. We are humans. We are flawed. We do it wrong sometimes.
I do know that I have struggled with needing to earn love all my life. I don’t know how to accept love freely given, no strings attached, because it doesn’t make sense to me. I know that my mother loves me; I feel her love. I know that my daughter and my grandsons love me; I feel their love. It sounds like a pity party, but that’s the extent of my experience with what I would call “real” love. Sacrificial love. Love not affected by behavior or circumstance. Love that just is.
I’ve wondered if I have the ability to give it since I don’t seem to have the ability to receive it. I’ve had doubts about that for more than 20 years. The relationship that I had never supported the idea that I could give love. It always seemed that the love I had to give was rejected; that my tendency to nurture, to support, to build up, to encourage was never what was wanted. I grew increasingly convinced that I just didn’t have any love to give. I just didn’t have a heart at all.
I longed for someone to want me, to choose me, to pursue me, to long for me. It was an unmet need, and it is painful. It hurts to long for love and not get it. It withers you. It dries you up inside. It cuts you off from others. It freezes your heart.
In my early life I didn’t have the emotional maturity to know what true love is. In my adulthood, I didn’t have the evidence of what true love is and ended up a frozen shell of a human.
In my breaking, I discovered love.
I discovered that my Creator wants me, chooses me, pursues me, longs for me. I discovered where real love was all along. The love that I had longed for, the love that celebrates me and my uniqueness was the love that I rejected as incapable of meeting my needs.
Oh how He loves me! I don’t deserve it, I can’t earn it, and I can’t lose it. He loves.
I think about how much I love my grandson, how a simple smile from him lights up my day. How it makes me feel when he wants to see me, to come to my house, to talk to me, to spend time with me. I don’t have an exciting life; I don’t have a playground in my backyard, a gaming system for him to play; but he still wants to come to Mimi’s house, because Mimi is the draw. Oh how that lifts my heart! He wants to come because he loves me, and I love him.
My Father has used my love for my grandson to explain His love for me. It took Him explaining it that way for me to even begin to understand it. Who can separate me from the love of God? He smiles when He thinks of me. He longs to spend time with me. He loves it when I want to come to His house, because He is the draw not because I want to be entertained. He loves me regardless of my behavior, my performance. He will correct me, just as I will correct my grandson when necessary, but He does it out of love for me. When I see my grandson grappling with destructive emotions, I want to help him work through them, not because his emotion is inconvenient for me, but because it will hurt him if he doesn’t learn to deal with it. I don’t want him to hurt!
I have lived a frozen life for a long time. My Father is thawing my heart. It is sometimes painful, sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes exhilarating. But it’s real. It’s true.
There’s a portion of a verse in Song of Solomon that resonates with me: “I found him whom my soul loveth.” I found that One. I can love Him with abandon, with every ounce of me, with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. I can love with everything and it is met with everything. Everything I am, my dark ugliness, my fears, my failures, my real self, is met with unfailing, unending, everlasting love. Because that’s who He is. He doesn’t criticize, He doesn’t tell me I’m not doing it right. I can love Him because He loves me.
There’s a song by Corey Asbury called Unraveling. The chorus of the song says “In the unraveling, Father unravel me. When I can’t feel a thing, have mercy and let me bleed. I know it’s dumb, but I have been numb for way too long.” I feel that song on a deep deep level. I was numb for way too long, for 47 years. He has been unraveling me, unfreezing me. The song continues “I don’t want to be alone anymore. I don’t want to survive anymore. And I want to feel, unravel me.” I don’t want to be alone anymore. I don’t want to just survive, to just make it from one day to the next. I want to thrive. I want to feel, even when it hurts. The end of the song says “I’m coming apart at the seams. It’s worse than I thought it would be. And I’ve never been happier.”
I’m thawing. I’m unraveling. It’s painful. It’s real and honest and raw. And I’ve never been happier. Father, thank You for unraveling me.