The most charming character in Disney’s hit movie Frozen is the snowman Olaf. He is goofy and wise at the same time. His wisdom is a gift for each of us.
Olaf is a snowman who dreams of summer. For him it is perfect in every way. It is the time , as he sings, when he can tan, play with the followers, and roll around in the sand.
The joke is, of course, is that as a snowman, he can only live in the cold. He is wishing for the one thing thing he can’t have. He is idealizing the one experience he can never experience.
Life is not a Fairy Tale
Frozen is a fairy tale, so Olaf’s dream is saved by magic. Miraculously, the queen casts a spell that lets him be a snowman in the summer.
We do not, however, have it so easy. As the Rolling Stones famously put, “you can’t always get what you want.” We see this theme recur throughout the Bible
Broken Dreams in the Bible
Moses dreams of the enjoying life in the Promised Land, yet he dies on a mountain overlooking it. The Israelite Prophets dreamed of an era of world peace, yet they witnessed the destruction of their own kingdom by the Babylonians.
Each of us wishes for and idealizes what we can never have. We imagine the perfect house, the perfect job, the perfect relationship.
We probably know each of them in precise detail: what color the paint would be, how much we would get paid, exactly where we would retire.
The danger is that we confuse this fantasy with reality. Our own messiness can’t compete with the perfection of our dreams.
The Lesson of the Angel
Jewish wisdom offers a useful antidote to this danger. Perfection, the sages teach, is reserved for God. The rest of us live in this world.
Initially, Jacob is terrified by the angel. The angel is strong. It is bewildering. It grabs Jacob while he is alone.
Yet, as the evening wears on, Jacob grows. He changes. He is transformed. Jacob refuses to let it angel go until it blesses him.
The Blessing of Imperfection
So it is with our lives. We struggle, and through the struggle we discover our blessings. Through the struggles, we make sense of our lives in a way much more satisfying than fantastic visions of perfection.
A great eighteenth century rabbi said the only whole heart is a broken heart. And the only full life is an imperfect life.