When I watch a movie, I can’t just sit back and enjoy it. What I usually end up doing is dissecting the characters and plot to see how they relate to real-life scenarios. That also means that movies I watch have to be smart with believable characters and a plot that makes sense.

The funny thing is that the smartest, most realistic movies I’ve been watching lately are kids’ movies. More specifically, Disney and Pixar (although, even the new Lego Batman is somewhat deep considering the premise). The people who produce movies like Moana, Inside Out, and the new Beauty and the Beast are geniuses that truly understand people, relationships, and emotions. These are my kind of movies!

The movie I just can’t get my mind off of right now is Moana. I always seem to be referring back to the themes within the story. Just for fun, I decided to make a list of things I learned from Moana.

  • There’s nothing wrong with “growing where you’re planted” (think of the song Moana’s father sings as he’s training Moana to be chief: “You can find happiness right where you are.”), but sometimes our loyalty to family can keep us from our true calling. Moana felt torn between doing what was expected of her and doing what she felt called to.
  • Just as fear of the water kept Moana’s father from supporting her desire, fear can cause the people around us from fully supporting us as we follow God and our dreams. Fear can cause us to give up on our dreams too.
  • We need people in our lives who remind us of our calling, just as Moana’s grandma did for her.
  • The first time Moana tried to sail, she failed miserably. Do not let failure deter you. It is a learning experience and not necessarily a sign that you’re going in the wrong direction.
  • Just because you have a calling doesn’t mean you won’t encounter problems. In fact, these problems make you stronger and teach you. Moana learned to sail by jumping in a boat and figuring it out along the way.
  • The people we need are sometimes the people who offend us the most. In Moana’s case, she saw Maui not as a hero, but as a selfish demigod who caused all the problems her people were facing. Maui also needed Moana, but he saw her as a naïve little girl who didn’t stand a chance. They both had something to learn from each other, but first, they had to get over their preconceived ideas.
  • The ocean is a metaphor for God. God will not force you into your calling, but He does draw you towards it.
  • Sometimes we want God to rescue us, but He wants to teach us through hard circumstances.
  • The ocean could have carried Moana exactly where she needed to be, but allowed Moana to “suffer” through the process of learning to sail. This was not just for Moana’s sake; Moana’s ability was then taught to her entire village to call them into their purpose of becoming voyagers.
  • It’s not about ability or initial zeal; it’s all about resilience, perseverance, and learning as you go.
  • Maui’s self-worth came from his ability to meet the needs of the people and make them happy. In the end, it’s never enough. This way of living will always leave you feeling enslaved to the needs of others. Because their love for you is conditional on you meeting their needs, you don’t feel truly loved or valued.
  • Moana’s crisis point was not failing against Te Ka; it happened when she forgot her true identity and what she was called to. When she is reminded (by her grandma’s spirit) of her identity, Moana has the courage to face Te Ka again and fulfill her destiny.
  • Te Ka, the lava monster, was destructive due to her missing heart and was restored to her true self when her heart was returned. When we have proud and hardened hearts, this causes us to act in hurtful ways towards others. When God restores us and gives us a heart of flesh, we become our true selves with life flowing from our hearts.
  • When Moana discovered who Te Ka really was, she was able to see beneath the dreadful exterior to see Te Ka’s true identity and walk toward her bravely. When we are able to see beneath the rough exteriors of others and see them the way God sees them, we can walk towards them in love–instead of fear–to bring out their true identities. People need to be seen for who they truly are.
  • When Moana discovered her purpose and pursued her destiny, she accomplished more for her people than she would have if she had just remained on her island, following the traditions and doing what was expected of her. Sometimes when we pursue our calling, it feels like we’re leaving people behind. Oftentimes, we upset people when we don’t fulfill their expectations of us. When we are called by God, He leads us into a greater purpose where we are able to accomplish more than we could have ever dreamed of.
  • Crazy grandmas are the best. Honestly, though, I loved the picture of connected generations and legacy throughout the film.

Can you think of any other lessons from this movie? What are some other movies with good spiritual lessons? Comment below!

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