Saturday, February 22, 2014

{Beware the frozen heart.}

   First and foremost, let me clarify that, yes, the title of this entry is a reference to the Disney movie Frozen. I'm the father of two little girls, so I think I can get away with that.  Besides, Frozen is a great movie full of some very valuable truths. Being a dad can really teach you to appreciate princess stories in a whole new light.  In my last post, I explored the idea of vulnerability and how being broken is a key to healing your relationship.  In this entry, we will examine the dreadful alternative to vulnerability, and we might observe some parallels in the Disney film as we proceed. Maybe.

   In the opening of Frozen, an ominous song warns us to beware the frozen heart. This is a foreshadow of things to come, as we face this concept in multiple ways throughout the plot. We are introduced to two sisters, Elsa and Anna, and we soon discover that Elsa possesses the curious and fearsome power to manipulate and create ice using magic. After an accident where Elsa injures her sister using her abilities, a group of trolls are consulted to heal the icy wound. They insist that the family could have faced tragedy if her heart had been affected.  It seems that a frozen heart can be a mortal wound.

   Following this accident, Elsa chooses to isolate herself from the world, in essence embracing a frozen heart herself, emotionally speaking.  She becomes a shut-in, and seems to loathe the outside world and her own alienation.  This frigid spirit ruins her relationship with her sister and the community, and eventually sets the stage for the conflict which would endanger her sister's life and the entire kingdom.  I'll let you watch the film to find out the conclusion, but I can tell you that there's a lot of interesting truth in this children's movie if you're searching for it. Now, let's see how these themes parallel with the marriage experience during times of hardship.

   Indeed, a frozen heart can become a formidable obstacle in a wounded marriage's recovery.  Allowing yourself to become bitter, calloused and cold can poison your marriage quickly.  However, we see that bitterness can often spring up from the aftermath of an affair or any other kind of wrongdoing, so why does this happen? Understanding this natural inclination is the first step to change.

    If you've ever been deeply wronged by a loved one, you know that becoming distant and calloused can be a defense mechanism to protect from further harm.  Keeping the transgressor at arm's length will prohibit them from betraying you again. The unfortunate side-effect is that distance will also prevent substantial healing. Vulnerability allows forgiveness to take place, and callousness only breeds contempt and enmity.

  Overcoming the voice in your head that demands for your spouse to pay the price is also a difficult task.  After all, you want them to understand your pain and the depth of the sorrows they've given you through their actions.  As a person who has monumentally hurt my own marriage, I cannot tell you the timing or the steps to take on your road to forgiveness and vulnerability. I can only assure you that, in order for your marriage to survive, you must embrace the broken nature of your own heart.

   Harboring a frozen heart can be the kiss of death for a marriage, especially when forgiveness is so desperately needed.  When two hearts, the sinner and the wronged, accept the nature of their own brokenness, they can pick up the shattered fragments and form back into one cohesive piece over time.  Perhaps, as you read this, you realize that you've been infected with a frostbitten heart. I have one extremely simple suggestion for how to begin resolving this.

  If you are a person of faith, pray.  There is one short phrase that I pray over my marriage almost every day, and it goes like this:     God, please soften our hearts towards one another.  When you pray this simple sentence, mean it sincerely and desperately.  It is not a mantra or some kind of magical incantation that will fix your relationship. It is a petition for God to prepare you both for the painful process of repentance and forgiveness.  

   Lastly, I want to encourage everyone who reads this to be constantly vigilant over their own hearts.  Reflect on your attitude and outlook towards your spouse, and question whether or not you've allowed your heart to harden.  By tending to this hidden issue, you may spare yourself a great deal of turbulence during tough times. 

You are reading The Meaning of Repentance, a blog about The Hartsfields and their journey to recovery from infidelity. We urge you to subscribe via e-mail for regular updates... no spam, I promise!

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