I didn’t see Moana in the theaters. As I’ve written about before, I don’t get to see as many movies as I used to. Moana looked good, but not good enough to find a babysitter or abandon my wife and child for two hours. I bought it, though, when it came out on Blu-ray and since then we have watched it a lot. Like a lot a lot.
Clara really enjoys the music and all of the colors. Alycia and I are just as infatuated by the music and we both love the story. Our family isn’t alone as we went to a Moana-themed birthday party a few weeks ago and our children’s ministry is hosting a Moana luau next month. It’s a great movie, with memorable characters and a positive message about being yourself.
Well, it’s a positive message if one doesn’t think about it too much, which I unfortunately have.
Moana is a strong-willed young woman who, in spite of her village’s traditions and mores, is drawn to the ocean. And not just the safety of the lagoon, but Moana wants to get out past the reef and touch the horizon. The movie is all about Moana exploring this calling, discovering her identity and finding her place in the world. Again, that’s a positive message for kids who need to know that they’re special and that they can bring something unique to this world.
However, for Moana, the largest determining factor for her identity and place in this world is her own feelings. She feels called to the ocean, she feels like she was picked for something special, she feels like life on her island is too limiting. This is great for a Disney character and a simple story about finding our place in this world.
When it comes to real life, though, issues of identity and place in this world can’t be solely defined by how we feel. If we’re followers of Jesus, then he is the ultimate authority for who we are and the impact we can make in this world. What if I felt like I couldn’t truly be myself unless I abandoned my family and looked “out there” for my fulfillment? That’s not entirely what Moana did, but if I were to follow her example then I might be inclined to follow my feelings.
We all have feelings and desires; not all of those feelings and desires are bad. To help us discern which feelings are right and which feelings are wrong, though, we need a higher authority than those feelings. Jesus is that authority and he can be our anchor when our feelings are a swirling tempest.
I love Moana and I’m going to continue to let Clara watch it. However, as she gets older I’m going to teach her that everything in our lives should come back to Jesus and serving him with our lives. A big part of that is surrendering every part of our lives to him, including all of our feelings and desires. Clara may have a desire to chase the horizon and travel the world, but hopefully she’ll learn how to submit that desire to Christ. Because when we submit our desires to Jesus, there’s no telling how far we’ll go.