I don’t always cry at the movies, but when I do, it’s because I’m a sympathetic crier. And maybe that itself is an extension of my empathy, and maybe that means I care too much about the wellbeing of animated fictional characters, but I’m a sucker for emotional investment.
I guess I also cry when I’m convicted of the stupidity of my own insecurity and fear of failure and fear of vulnerability.
Anyway. I saw Moana yesterday.
Moana has a mission. This is the mantra she has literally been chanting the entire film, much the way Inigo Montoya reminds the six-fingered man, “You killed my father. Prepare to die.” The ocean chose me, Moana says.
The ocean chose me.
People scoff. Obviously, the ocean chose wrong. Like, this is really, really hard. This is crazy. This is not a thing that people just do, Moana. You can’t do this; who are you?
Moana is resolute: The ocean chose me.
Things get difficult and people and things are obstinate, but this kid just knows that this is what she should be doing.
Except…then she forgets. Or rather, it becomes really hard to believe that. She has failed, everyone has abandoned her, and she’s stranded.
She cries, and begs the ocean to pick again. “Choose someone else. Please. You have to choose someone else.”
I’m crying, because this adorable animated girl is crying, and because I know she can do it. I know she has it in her, and I’m sad she doesn’t believe she can. She’s wanted this for as long as she can remember. This is what she is there to do. She sang a beautiful song about it. She worked really hard to get to where she is. And now she doesn’t think she can.
And then, sobbing, Moana says she failed. She can’t do it. She tried, and she made this mess. She can’t.
And then I realize that sounds an awful lot like something I would do.
I think I fail, and that’s uncomfortable and awkward and I don’t like it. So I give up. I hate giving up because usually it’s something that I worked hard on and care about and sometimes I’m so close…but I can’t.
I’m not good enough. To do this, or earn that, or help here, or lead there. I can’t be a good enough friend, so I don’t deserve your love. I can’t handle this responsibility well enough to warrant your trust.
I’m going to fail. So please, please choose someone else.
Moana was reminded of who she was and what she was doing by people who loved her. She dove into the ocean and reestablished that the ocean chose her, so gosh darn it she was going to do the thing.
I was proud of her, this fictional character, when she did that. The thing she did brought redemption and hope and beauty where there wasn’t any. And it made my overanalytical dramaturg heart very happy. And also, I think showed me a little about God. It’s a Disney movie, but I found there to be a much deeper nobility to what she did than typical princess fare.
I mean, I don’t know that I’m ever going to literally save people from annihilation the way this Lin-Manuel Miranda-singing little girl did. But I’d like to think I do significant things. I’d like to think I’m intentional with my words and actions and how I love. I’d like to think I do things well, or at least that Jesus gets the glory just as much when I don’t. Redemption and hope and beauty and a different kind of salvation, I hope I bring that to the table with the honor it’s owed. I’d like to think that whatever calling, or purpose, or mission, however you want to say it, I have (and, to be honest, I don’t know that I know what that is yet) – I hope I’m doing it its due. The ocean didn’t choose me, but Someone did.
And how often I catch myself staring back at Him, saying,”Choose someone else. Please. You have to choose someone else.”
In little things. Almost daily. It’s like, hey God? Yeah. About this thing, it’s too big. I feel too small. I feel too weak. I’m not qualified. I’m too vulnerable here. I’m failing, so you’ve made a mistake.
You can’t really love me. I really can’t do this. Why did you put me here? Why are you making me do this? I can’t do this. The insecurity is crippling, the fear paralyzing, the wariness almost embarrassing.
Choose someone else.
Well, the ocean doesn’t make mistakes, and God most certainly does not. And “chosen” for all of us real-life, not-Disney-princess people looks different and usually a lot less dramatic, it’s no less important and no less true.
Fear can’t get in the way of action. Self-preservation should never scare us out of relationships. Insecurity is usually pride, and is usually a lie, if you have your priorities in line. It’s the worst, and it takes a lot of trust and believing people who love you. Sometimes it’s awkward. Sometimes it feels a lot like failure and sometimes that hurts more than you will think it’s worth. Sometimes you will cry and tell the proverbial ocean you aren’t the person.
But the ocean chose you because it knows that you will do it, and do it well.
And God wastes no time in reminding me of my worth and value when I tell Him that I can’t do it. That I’m doing the right things for the right reasons. It matters and it’s good and it’s for His glory. So I do it.
Real life is not a Disney movie. But I trust God way more than I trust an anthropomorphic ocean. And that trust looks a little braver and a little scarier, maybe, but so much more fulfilling.
Why would I ever give that up because I am afraid that I can’t? Part of the fun is figuring out how far I’ll go (spoiler alert: with Jesus, it’s a long way).