Ok so, if you have not seen the movie Moana (or Vaiana. Depending on what country you are from), go watch it, because it is fantastic. But don’t read any further because I don’t want to spoil anything for you.
(INSERT OFFICIAL SPOILER WARNING HERE)
God often speaks to me through stories. Movies and books. There is something about a good fictional story that bring out truths that we might have difficulty expressing otherwise. This is one reason fantasy draws me in with such gravity. So sometimes, when watching a movie, a message (probably not even intended by the makers) jumps out like neon lights by the finish. It was this way with Moana. I watched it for the third time a couple weeks ago. Every time, another layer of meaning peeled back with different symbolism.
The first and second watches, it was the theme of identity that caught my attention. (And of course, some of this might be a stretch because it is Disney, but God can speak through anything if He wants to.) Moana, the lead character, struggles with following the desire to be who she feels she is and the role her parents want her to take. Maui’s identity rests entirely on having his magical hook and what people think of him. And both, by the end, understand a bit more of what their identity is actually defined by. Circumstance, and learning the truth of her ancestors, called Moana to be who she was meant to be. And it turned out, that she did not have to choose between her calling and her role after all. She was meant for both. And for Maui, he sees that he is still himself and he can still be a hero even apart from his hook and what people’s approval. He even chooses to sacrifice his precious hook to aid Moana on her mission.
But I caught an even deeper thread that last time I watched it. The scene at the end (Watch here: Moana Confronts Teka) when Moana realizes the enemy Teka is actually the one she is trying to save, Te Fiti the goddess of life. She walks through the waves toward an angry, flaming monster (so epic!). “They have stolen the heart from inside you. But this does not define you. This is not who you are. You know who you truly are.” It struck me. This is the truth of the human condition. We have forgotten who we are. Our heart was stolen (or rather we gave it away) and we adopted a new identity. A fiery, ugly identity. It might look more powerful and more in control from the outside. But it is destructive to its core. We build this new image of ourselves based on what people say about us and the lies we believe. Putting them on like new skin. But actually it is a crusty, ashen shell that only serves to cover and hides our life-giving nature beneath. But all it takes is a little piece of truth placed back into where our heart used to be. Even for a brief moment, we remember who we are.
And maybe sometimes, we need someone to confront us with the truth “this is not who you are.” Sometimes (about every hour of every day in my case) we need a reminder. We are not what people expect us to be. We are not what people say we are. We are not what we do or how many approve of us. And we are not the destructive sin and lies we have covered ourselves with .
At our core, we are life-bringers.