“The heart is not so easily changed, but the head can be persuaded.” Yes, more from the Disney move Frozen. I love that my oldest daughter is now at an age where she can enjoy movies with subtle depth to them, because I can enjoy them with her. There is no depth to the Baby Einstein videos my younger daughter watches—unless it’s so deeply hidden behind wide-eyed puppets that even I miss it. The words above were spoken by a troll who could have changed the whole course of the movie had he provided a little more detail—see How It Should Have Ended’s version. I have often felt that way about God—if he is real, I would have appreciated less of the mystery that surrounds him—but that’s probably a topic for another post.
The troll in the movie spoke these words after Princess Elsa had accidently struck Princess Anna in the head with her powers. A strike to the heart would have been devastating, but the young princess would recover from the blow to the head. “The heart is not so easily changed, but the head can be persuaded.” The phrase instantly caught my attention, because it contains concepts I’ve been wrestling with—head vs. heart, and persuasion.
Specifically, the word “persuasion” grips me today. Believe it or not, I read the Bible daily. Maybe it’s because my secrecy leaves me few to converse with, and the extra-wide margins of my journaling Bible are so welcoming of my thoughts. Maybe I’m flirting with my former faith, wishing God would win my heart with words once more. Or, as some of you may suggest, maybe it’s the spirit within me that continues to worship against my conscious will. Whatever the reason, I follow the yearly reading plan in the back of my Bible. Today, part of the assignment was Romans 8. Verse 38 always meant so much to me, but it has mocked me in my doubt. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In the margin to the side on February 3rd of last year, I wrote: “What about ourselves? What about the desire for full knowledge—the demand to understand God’s ways?—see Genesis 3. My own mind makes his love seem impossible. God, let these words be true—that even I cannot separate myself from your love.”
Do you see how strongly I have wanted to believe? I have feared that my own mind would separate me from Him, just as a desire for knowledge led to the Fall (my reference to Genesis 3). I have prayed that it wouldn’t be so. The day after I wrote those words in the margin, I received a letter from a friend (much like an older brother) who quoted those verses in Romans and described them as “the magnificent crescendo in the world’s most important letter.” He continued, “This time of trial is for his glory, not for your destruction.” Are the contents of my Bible margins copied onto billboards? What timely reassurance that even my own doubts wouldn’t separate me from His love. The same friend wrote again the next week and said that the King James version of that verse reads “I am persuaded,” instead of “I am sure”—that “persuasion is not an event, but rather a process.” Wow. Persuaded. I may not be sure, but could I be persuaded?
“The heart is not so easily changed…”—I agree. In fact, I’m not sure my heart has ever completely rejected faith, if I’m using the word “heart” to describe the subjective, most inner core of my emotions and desires. “…But the head can be persuaded.” It’s my head that became slowly persuaded away from faith, quieted itself briefly while my heart found a voice, and then became emboldened against faith once again. My heart wants to believe; my head won’t let me justify it. My heart won’t let the past go; my head urges me beyond childish thinking. My heart believes in miracles; my head says they’re extremely improbable. My heart embraces the mystery of a God whose ways are higher than mine; my head demands that He show Himself. So what do my hands do?—which one, head or heart, influences my actions in the world? Which one will move through my fingers as I type?
The one that has been faithful to me. My heart believed in Santa Claus, even when my head recognized the myth. My heart wasted affection on people who didn’t love me; my head told me there was danger. My heart loves stories; my head knows that survival and success demand knowledge. My heart will take a leap of faith; my head warns that there’s no one there to catch me. How many times has my heart set me up for disappointment and disaster? How many times has my head saved me from the same? My head has been persuaded to reject the faith I have known for most of my life. My heart lags behind—evidenced by the stirring within me when I read daily scripture, when they sing my favorite worship song at church (happened today), when I read through old letters from a big brother encouraging my faith, when I marvel at creation, when I hear my daughter pray. But my head reminds me that my heart is not trustworthy—this is the thesis formed from a grand review of every hard lesson I’ve learned in life.
So what will my hands do? What will influence my fingers on this keyboard and my actions in the world? They will follow my head. And at least for now, my heart is broken in the background, still held captive, still frozen in faith. What can thaw a frozen heart? The detail that the troll forgot to mention until it was almost too late—love. When my heart realizes that I have loved more people, more deeply since my head rejected faith, maybe it too will be persuaded.