It seems silly to find personal insight and challenging truths in an animated flick about a girl with magic, glowing hair, but — that’s just what happened.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” I think he was right.
I’ve been going through a desert of sorts over the past year or so. While some have noticed hints here and there, I’ve been intentionally cryptic. Diving into specifics gets messy, and the world is smaller than we think. I don’t want to slander or damage anyone in some cathartic pursuit of resolution.
Suffice to say I’ve been betrayed. Lied to and about by someone I trusted, someone who claimed to have my best interest at heart. The worst part, though, is that I’ve let this person and these lies alter my behavior.
Blame fear or insecurity. There could exist a great number of contributing factors. When abuse is made known and none come to defense, victims naturally withdraw. That’s what I’ve done. In spite of hating the label of “victim,” I must call it what it is.
But I don’t need to nurture the title. Thus my Rapunzel-infused inspiration.
For no known reason, as I drove between CVS and the post office this morning, Tangled played in the back of my mind. I love that movie. It ranks high among my all-time favorites and, as I ran errands, one of the escape scenes provided a backdrop to my thoughts. Rapunzel and Flynn, aided by “ruffians,” ran from the authorities, two double-crossed thieves, and one rather aggressive horse named Maximus.
Rather than describe the whole scene playing within my head, just watch the first 20 seconds of this clip.
“Let’s just assume for the moment that no one here likes me!”
Now, I’m not going to say that’s how I feel. Not exactly, anyway; that was just the scene traversing my mind’s eye somewhere around Cross Avenue. This scene spawned more applicable insights. Slowly, gradually thoughts took form in ways far more profound than the source warrants.
We need not be defined by external factors.
We are who we choose to be regardless of what happens around us or what is said about us. Difficulties may shape and mold us, but they need not define us. That’s easy to say and, coming from one with a rather dysfunctional childhood, you’d think I would know this by now. Yet, suffering abuse as a child and encountering it as an adult are two radically different things.
Maturity convinces us that we are not what happened to us as children, but humility woos us toward personal responsibility as adults. Being fully aware of my humanity, I must evaluate what role I played in the trouble. The more I do, the more difficult it grows to separate cruel words spoken from what is actually true. Doubts rise. Old wounds burst open and identities believed left behind cloud my vision.
“This girl is going to need a lot of therapy.” Those were my pervasive thoughts the first time I watched Tangled. And the second time. And just about every time thereafter. So much so that I’ve made it a point to discuss Mother Gothel’s manipulation and abusive tactics with my kids.
“Do you see how she twists the truth and toys with Rapunzel’s emotions? Remember who you are, kids.”
Ah, once again, I give sage advice I fail to accept myself. Hypocrite that I am.
Lies can hold us captive … but only if we let them.
Rapunzel had been kidnapped, lied to, manipulated, trapped. She was a princess raised as a pet.
Flynn was an orphan, a wanted thief, and a liar … but he had a heart of gold.
Neither one of these let others’ actions or assessments define them. By the end of the movie, they’re both restored to what they should have been all along — well, happy, settled, comfortable as themselves with the gifts they’d been granted.
Once Rapunzel knew her true identity — the lost princess — she didn’t stay in the tower. She didn’t cower in fear or stop being curious and creative. She didn’t let the lies about her dictate her actions.
Flynn knew he was a thief, but he accepted grace and forgiveness. He fought for what was right and defended truth and justice, even when it nearly cost him his life. He didn’t let his past keep him from his future.
Okay, I may be taking this story a bit too seriously. My life is not a cartoon!
But isn’t that the point?
Christ came to proclaim freedom.
If these truths found in a silly animated film are worth defending, how much more so are the truths in my own life?
How long will I allow lies to dictate my behavior or identity? To separate me from grace and forgiveness?
How long will I bow before the manipulation, remain trapped in this tower, when I know I’m meant to live free in a palace?
“The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him, and unrolling the scroll, He found the place where it was written:
‘The Spirit of the Lord is on Me,
because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’
He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him. He began by saying to them, ‘Today as you listen, this Scripture has been fulfilled.'”
— Luke 4:17–21 (HCSB)
This passage from Luke tells of Jesus reading from the Isaiah scrolls. I so love that chapter in Isaiah. It goes on in beautiful, restorative glory:
“… to comfort all who mourn…
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…
And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the LORD to glorify Him.
I greatly rejoice in the LORD,
I exult in my God;
for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation
and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness.”
— Isaiah 61: 2, 3, 10 (HCSB)
Those against me may say many, many things. Their words, however, cannot erase the truths of what God says of me. Their plans for me cannot thwart His plans for me. And I need to stop acting like they can.
Our God is greater. His Words are truer. His promises are firm and will stand forever. He will defend those who are His. None can snatch me from His mighty hand.
TALK TO ME: Are there lies from your past or present that hold you captive? What prevents you from grasping the glorious future God has for you? What truth might you cling to today that sets you free?