Maybe it’s because I don’t get out much, or maybe it’s because, since having kids, I only see movies that are rated G or animated, but I loved Tangled. If you haven’t seen it, it’s Disney’s spin on Rapunzel, the girl with super long hair who’s been locked in a tower her whole life. Princess by birth, she was kidnapped by an old woman who used Rapunzel’s hair to stay young. Every year on her birthday, Rapunzel watches floating lanterns rise in the sky, launched by the king and queen, her parents, in honor of their daughter, the missing princess. She feels drawn to this world outside but has been told it’s too dangerous and unpredictable out there. The audience knows the old woman pretending to be her mom isn’t really her mom. I was in pain as I watched the old woman manipulate Rapunzel into thinking she couldn’t leave. She employs fear, control and belittling tactics to keep Rapunzel inside. When, showing her true colors, the old woman makes it clear she never intends for Rapunzel to leave, Rapunzel decides it’s time to get out. She swings out of the tower window using her ridiculously long hair and feels grass for the first time. She feels dirt. She sticks her feet in the water. She feels alive! She swings on the trees and picks flowers and feels the breeze. She’s finally free.
Rapunzel has been able to get out for a while now. Not much has changed. The only difference is that she finally started to pay attention to the longing she felt to leave. She finally decided it was time to see the floating lanterns she felt so connected to. Her whole life her mother told her she was too weak, too small, and incapable of surviving in the outside world.
Rapunzel decided to question if maybe her mom was wrong.
We, the audience, know that her mom has been lying to her. I was the one in the theater screaming, “It’s not your real mom! She’s a liar and she doesn’t care about you!” She tells Rapunzel that she loves her, even though she only sees Rapunzel for what she can get from her. Rapunzel breaks free when she realizes she’s been lied to and she’s more than able to live outside of the castle, in fact, that is where she belongs.
It’s easy for us to see it in a Disney movie. It’s easy for us to see it when it’s someone else. It’s easy to see when it’s another person’s bondage. It’s very hard to recognize our own towers or the lies that hold us back.
Who is telling us that we can’t live this free and full life with God? Who is telling us that we’re wrong, that there isn’t something more, that it’s better to stay protected and walled up? Maybe our tower is our desire to control. Maybe we’re stuck in comparison. Maybe it’s in our obsession with how we look, how funny, smart or likable we are. Maybe your tower is how you come across to other people and who likes you. We hear the voice of someone who pretends to love us saying, “You need comparison. It makes you feel better. You need people’s attention. You can’t be happy without it. You need to look spiritual. If not, no one will take you seriously.”
Whether it’s success or relationships or subtle addictions, we need someone to scream from the audience that “They’re a liar! They don’t even care about you!”
These things are not just lies, but liars. Our culture, being young, overworking or owning stuff, these things won’t care for us—they only want to use us.
“Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live” Isaiah 55:3
Come to Me. Listen to Me.
We’re always listening to something. Maybe it’s the nagging doubt about our own worth. Maybe it’s the awful feeling that if people really knew us, they’d realize how mean or selfish we can be. Maybe it’s a voice from our past or the uncertainty of our future. Maybe it’s our deep fear of being unloved.
You don’t have to listen to those voices. You don’t have to believe them.
God invites us to the waters, to the place where he is not only present, but is willing to consume our fears, communicate full acceptance and approval, guide us, care for us and preserve us.
Life is out there. We have what we need to jump in and take it. We’ve just got to start listening to the correct voice, the voice that calls us deeper into incomparable hope and unimaginable freedom.