My son loves the movie Frozen. He’ll narrate the film for you, and loves imitating the ‘big guys cutting ice’. I think I could recite it in my sleep. I probably have. =) While we watch, every time I hear Elsa say, “Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show,” I think of how we use those words to stay safe. What do we lose and miss out on when we use such self-preservation? “Conceal, don’t feel” froze Elsa with fear,  made her icily alone and afraid, and those words stole her freedom.

They can do the same to us.


My two-year-old is the sweetest little boy I know. He calls us “mommygirl” and “daddyboy.” Before going to sleep, I make the sign of the cross on his forehead and say a blessing, and now he makes the sign of the cross on my forehead, too. When I say I love you, he responds, “So so soooo much!”

I mean. Seriously.

Then there’s my brand-new baby girl. She is precious, with her crown of dark hair and big eyes and itty bitty toes. When she’s awake, she’s so alert that I just know we’re having real conversations. She is a gift I never expected and still can’t grasp, even while pregnant with her and even while birthing her and even while holding her now.

I sit with these children literally on me, and my heart does the Grinch thing. You know, where his heart grows three sizes and bursts through the box around it, and he gets this smooshy smile on his face? My heart does that, and I swear I can feel it aching with love. My heart grows and beats for my babies.

And yet… I’ve felt a bit reserved with my love lately. Like my heart wants to burst at the seams but for some reason decides to just quiver a little instead. I know fear is creeping in when I don’t lean into my husband as we stand in the kitchen, or hold his smiling gaze for a few seconds too long, or take his hand in the car as it lays on the armrest.

This holding back of love comes from a self-preserving kind of fear that’s debilitating. I reason, I’m too happy. The shoe’s gonna drop. Any day now, something awful will happen. So don’t get too happy, and don’t love with all you’ve got. Just in case. That way it won’t come as such a shock when the awful comes, and you won’t be quite as hurt. Conceal, don’t feel.

Then a day passes without holding my husband’s gaze and hand, with a little more sighing and less laughing with my toddler, with gazing at my phone instead of my daughter while she nurses. All in the name of what if, which is concealing and not feeling at its height.

As a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend – as one who loves at all – we risk greatly when we love. We risk being offended and rejected and hurt, because the flip side of love is fear. But we follow in the steps of the One who took the greatest risk ever in loving us:

God demonstrates His own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners,
Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

What a gamble! He knows how worth it it is to feel a heart grow three sizes, and despite what He may receive from us, He chose to love. He concealed nothing and felt everything. Because of the way He has flipped the sides once and for all, I too may choose to be frozen or free.

  • http://walkingwellwithgod.blogspot.com Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God

    The plain truth of the matter is that sometimes the proverbial shoe does drop. When we dare to love, we dare to get our hearts broken. But, as you pointed out…what is the alternative? Always living in fear. As I look back on loving my children (now pretty much grown), my heart did get broken along the way, but the times I remember most and the memories that rush to the forefront of my mind are the times that I loved with abandon…that I went all in. I will never remember the loads of laundry I did, but I will remember rolling and laughing, giggling and dancing with my children. I think to not love completely would mean to always live with regret. When we completely open our heart, we get a little taste of what God’s great love for us is like.
    Thanks for an honest post…don’t hold back on love :)

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      It’s a cycle, isn’t it Bev? You are so right – to live and love with abandon is the wisest and best choice, hands down. Thanks for the encouragement, from one mama to another. =)

  • http://www.rainydayinmay.com Misty

    It really is such a risk… My deepest hurts have come from my family, but my most beautiful blessings are enriched in them as well….

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      YES! That’s exactly it. You said it beautifully, girl. But they are so worth the risk.

      Be blessed today, Misty.

  • http://www.morethanrubiesblog.wordpress.com Amy

    This is so wonderful. My boys love Frozen, too, and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to choose to feel – all the time. That it means I’ll feel pain and anger and frustration, but if I don’t, I’ll miss out on joy and and wonder and love. Thanks for sharing – I loved this.

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      And I am so not willing to miss out on those things! I too feel all the time, which is exhausting =) Thank you for the kindred comment today, Amy.

  • http://aleshablessed.com/ Alesha

    Thank you so much for this! Although I recently wrote a blog post similar to this (without the cool frozen illustrations), I needed to hear it again from someone else. I struggle with irrational fears a lot, and I didn’t even see some of the ways they hold me back from loving until I read this. So thank you!
    Alesha <3

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Alesha, I’m so glad if this post touched you. I love that you also felt a nudge recently on the same subject! God is sneaky, right? =) Hoping that we can both release ourselves into love.

  • Kristen

    Thank you for sharing and for being so raw and open. You have blessed my life tremendously by doing so, because it helps me to know I am not alone in this fight. I, too, desire to live and love with abandon… And to embrace every single moment the Lord blessed me with my family, but find that most of the time I’m concealed and do not allow myself to feel anything for fear that I will feel anger and that I will not be able to hold back the anger and it will spread like poisin and Hurt those around me. But, your post helped me realize that my concealing my feelings, I’m missing out on the joy that God has for me in every moment… Even in struggles there is still joy to be found. Thank you so very much for sharing!

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Hi Kristin, I agree – anger is really tricky. It’s hard to know when to let loose and feel it all, and when to take a deep breath and power through. I totally agree – even in struggles, there may still be joy!

  • http://www.encouragingworkingmoms.com Amanda

    Beautifully said, sweet friend. I’ve been holding back my feelings during this pregnancy… afraid of miscarriage or health issues or just not being able to handle one more. I want to let the Lord grow my heart, and He’s using your words to open me up to freedom (wasn’t that our theme at LD that year? :)). It’s okay to risk it all for love! xoxo

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Probably was! I think you guys had me so worn out I don’t even remember the theme =)

      I know, I KNOW, pregnancy fears. Oof. Right now I can’t even think about trying for another because so far the pattern has been loss, baby, loss, baby… which would make the next pregnancy a loss. Those fears can really freeze our joy, and I’m praying release for you. Love you friend.

  • http://jessicaleejourney.wordpress.com/ Jessica

    I, too, know those fears very well. And “Frozen” speaks to me in similar ways… isn’t it funny the things God can use to reach us. Loving you and your adorable children and your genuine heart for sharing! xoxo ~Jess

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      I love that too! I’d love to hear more about what you hear in Frozen – it would give me something to think about as we watch it for the eleventythirteenth time. =)

  • Sophie

    This definatly came to me at the right time (as always.. Good timing!) I’m due to move into our first house with my boyfriend and I’m so excited but also fearful, I have a lot of love to give but sometimes I shy away from it.. just in case, altho I have learnt that I’m the one whom it effects more if I don’t fully give and love.
    Yes it can be scary but I’m willing to love and be free instead of fear and be frozen!

    Thanks you.. Blessing words xx

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      You’re onto something here, Sophie – that it affects us ourselves when we hold our love back. It is scary, but so worth it.

  • http://www.hollybarrett.org Holly Barrett

    I have so been in the place of choosing not to risk love because losing it is so painful. Thanks for your encouragement to risk it anyway, Anna! Love this post and the pictures of your littles!

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Thank you for coming over and leaving encouragement, Holly!

  • Sarah Withey

    Have you ever cans across something you didn’t want tho read but know you really should. Or things yourself I will just read it later but never go back too read it? That was this post for me. I was going to put it aside for later but I was pulled to it. I’m so glad I didn’t put it aside. This post is my break through for what I’ve been going through this past week. I know the Lord is speaking to me and working through others to help show me his love. I can’t share how bad I needed this today. I’m finally breaking down and letting it out. Thank you so much for this. You are a friend/sister to me, What I really need right now. I also have two littles at home and love them with every ounce of me.

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Oh Sarah, thank you for encouraging ME today! You know, I was so nervous about this post – that I would be the only one who understood it. I guess not. =) I will remember you in prayer, as you mother your two, and ask God to guide you right into His love with confidence!

  • Sharon

    This is amazing. So so amazing. I could have written this myself. The movie Frozen changed my life and inspired me to begin my journey of healing, to begin to try to “melt” my icy exterior to let love in. Having a frozen heart is so, so painful, but at first it feels safer than getting hurt or hurting someone else.

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Sharon, that’s so cool! Is it too soon for puns? =) Love that God can use a kids movie to minister to grown women. He will use whatever He has to to get our attention! I will keep you in prayer as your begin to thaw.

  • http://lifeinspiredthoughts.wordpress.com Amy

    Beautiful post! I journeyed through a 20 year abusive marriage and was finally set free 5 years ago, and it took me a long time to want to give my heart fully to anyone else. But God knew the perfect time to bring someone into my life who has now been my husband for 2 1/2 years. And though I had to learn to truly open my heart up to him and not hold back in fear of being hurt or rejected, it was definitely worth doing!

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Oh Amy, what a story you have!! I clicked over and read through several of your posts – thank you for sharing your heart over there, and for joining the (in)courage community here! God has surely done a work in you, hasn’t He. I’m grateful you shared some of your story here today, with me.

  • http://hopehearthome.com Susan Shipe

    Oh my – you had the courage to pen what every mother / wife feels at times. My first marriage ended in divorce, he chose another over me, and left me with three wonderful kids. That kind of hurt and rejection builds a stone wall around a heart, engraved with, “NO ONE will ever hurt me like THAT again.” And you choose “frozen” over and over. Then one day, by God’s grace, someone came along who wanted me and my frozen heart AND my three kiddo’s!!! It was a risk. It was chancy. It was scary. But I took it, thawed my heart and became FREE. Great post, Anna.

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Dear Susan. I am so grateful you’ve shared your story with me today. What a work God has done! You know, your story echoes my mother’s story – a husband who chose another and left her with three kids. It’s been a hard journey to watch, and I’m so happy yours has resulted in a thawed and free heart!

      I also have to thank you for the encouragement to me. For whatever reason, I was fearful publishing this post, feeling like no one else would understand it besides me. So thank you for the first line of your comment – I felt like I dug deep to write this and am grateful you saw that.

  • http://jeannetakenaka.wordpress.com Jeanne Takenaka

    Beautiful post, Anna. I know that feeling of my heart growing so much with love I’m afraid it will burst. And, I’ve lived the conceal, don’t feel way of life too. I’ve found it’s more painful to live that way than to risk loving someone and being hurt by them. I so appreciate your reminder that Jesus risked it all and loved with all of Himself. I want to follow in His footsteps.

    Thanks for sharing this today!

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Jeanne, you nailed it – ‘I’ve found it’s more painful to live that way than to risk loving someone and being hurt by them.’ YES.

      Thank you for joining the conversation today!

  • Gretchen

    Anna, the love you wrote about I’ve been blessed to feel. For lots of reasons. I identified with you even though I am 65 years old.
    Sadly, probably in grace, your words were an epiphany for me in my life today. My life drastically changed 3 years ago. HUGE changes-husband must sell his failing business; we sell our “Always wanted” home; we move far away to be near a daughter. Losses of place and close community of friends and family caused me to pull inside myself. Self-preservation as I saw it.
    Pulling away causes loneliness but protects the heart. It is self-defeating.
    I will ponder your story and pray about how it relates to my own situation. The pain is all still there…just not as near the surface. Thank you for pointing this out to me.
    God bless you and your babies. What a beautiful little boy and baby girl you have!

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Thank you for your kind words, Gretchen! I will be praying for you as you ponder.

  • http://www.joyfullmom.com Andrea

    I’ve never thought of fear as the real reason for holding me back, but you are so right. A few years ago we were in the sweetest spot and I felt like it was just too good to be true. I long for those days again. Even though these days are good and have their own precious and wonderful gifts, I haven’t been fully present in them because I am so afraid of it being taken away again. You’ve given me much to ponder today.

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Andrea I have those same thoughts. I think 10 years back, and sometimes wish to be that unaware and blissful again… but just for a little while. Then I think about today, and the suffering that has led to pain, and how grateful I am to have let it penetrate the freeze because it’s made me able to be free.

      It’s so hard to be fully present without fear! Thank you for naming that here. Let’s pray for each other, yes? Because it’s easier to struggle together than alone. #communitywins =)

  • https://alyssadelossantos.wordpress.com/ Alyssa DeLosSantos

    Oh how familiar I am with this sentiment. If I’m not watchful, or surrendered, I undoubtedly put my hand up in a defensive position. Self-sufficieny/self-preservation have NOT been good companions. I’m crawling slowly back into the arena of feeling and loving well! Thanks for sharing your heart!

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Alyssa I will keep you in prayer as you crawl! Way to go.

  • http://www.theconfessionsofaletter.wordpress.com Chavos

    “He concealed nothing and felt everything.” Oh, that I may follow in his footsteps. Thanks for sharing your heart, Anna!

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Thank you for reading, and for that prayer! Know I’ll be praying the same thing.

  • http://www.dianewbailey.net Diane bailey

    You sweet friend, are amazing! I love your honesty, how you love your children – I love you! Thank you for sharing about loving and the freeze- fear that tries to squelch free-love.

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      LOVE you Diane Bailey!! Thank you for the encouragement.

  • Lisa Quinn

    My gosh, your so right. That is exactly how I feel. I am more worried about what might happen and how I will cope “When the shoe drops” that I am depriving myself and those around me with pure, love!

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      And deprivation is never a good thing. Thanks, Lisa!

  • Sara S

    Hi Anna,
    I had the pleasure of meeting you (your husband and then-4-day old baby girl) at the April inRL community get-together, and I’ve really enjoyed your blog posts since then even more. I love how you had the insight to put words to this topic so beautifully and the courage to post this. I have to imagine this topic resonates with so many people, including myself. I will pray for you to release your fear of the other shoe dropping!

    My family has gone through a long period of brokenness in the years past, and my 3 children also loved “Let it Go” and could be heard belting it out at any point on any given day. I used “Frozen” and this beloved song/scene, where Elsa found strength in letting go of her fears but isolating herself further, to show my girls (8 and 9yrs) how Elsa and WE all have been feeling so much relief to finally share our story and ‘let it go’ but that isolation is not the answer and that we should try to open our hearts to love even when it hurts. I want so much for them to ‘come through this stronger’ and hope they will not be as afraid of conflict, challenge, failure or pain as they go through other struggles later in life. That they will build a faith and trust in God and His word to lift them up when fears pull them down.

    I love how this beautiful and amazing children’s movie has caused so many people to think inward, and I am grateful to how you took it one step further and shared so beautifully something so many experience but rarely hear about.

    God bless you and your beautiful family!

  • http://daysnthoughts.wordpress.com Joanne Viola

    Wonderful post! May I always take the risk to love. Praying for a heart that stays soft & is not frozen. The risk is so worth it! Grateful you shared with such a transparent heart!

  • Amy P.

    Hello Anna!
    I follow your blog but I have now subscribed to follow you on incourage as well, because of this post. I could not put into words how I have been feeling until reading this post. You have nailed it on the head. I have a 5 month old son, my fiance and I have had a very rough couple of years due to an illness and I am so so so scared to finally feel happy. I love my son with all my being, he has brought so much joy to us and has changed our life for the better, and he has given us a reason to push through, but when I really let myself “feel”, I feel so open and vulnerable, I am scared of what will happen next. That this is too good to be true. That I am so used to feeling negative that I can’t possibly be actually feeling positive. I want to let my guard down and enjoy every minute of my boys life and our new life as a family but it is so scary. I am scared I will lose everything.
    You have such a beautiful family, I am so very happy for you and your new baby girl. Good things happen to good people. I have never met you but you are an amazing woman! Thank-you for your honest posts. :)

  • lynne

    Thank you for this. Not long ago I said to my husband, “things are going so well…I am waiting for the shoe to drop.” Then it did. Our lives changed (again) in an instant. Tears and grief and fear. BUT I just wanted to say that God is our ever-present help in times of trouble. I want to say that love is worth the risk. Every broken heart is worth it. Jesus showed us the way-He loved us and gave his life for us. Let’s all gather up our broken pieces and press on to know the Lord.

  • Beth WIlliams

    I will always love completely. Not doing so is living in fear & I won’t fear anything!

    Just read an email about the goodness of God. It stated that “Nothing God does is wrong. It all has a reason–the good, & seemingly bad.” We weren’t promised an easy life without trials, but a long & happy life in eternity. I say love everyone with abandon!

    Blessings :)

  • http://www.myoverflowingcup.com Heather @ My Overflowing Cup

    This is absolutely beautiful and so full of truth. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I have experienced exactly what you have shared. As I was reading, this verse came to mind, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” ~2 Timothy 1:7 We must discipline ourselves to choose faith over fear. Thank you for the great read!

  • Tara

    A beautiful blessing encouragement. God loves each one of us. I want to love like Jesus loved and follow in his footsteps every day.