Even though, numerically, I’m an adult, I love Disney movies. I have been really moved by the song “How Far I’ll Go” from the movie Moana and especially the performance on Ellen by the young lady who plays Moana, Auli’i Cravalho and 4 year old Claire. Tonight, I watched the movie and was instantly taken in by the magic of it all. The movie talks about creation and God’s power to create. It talks about the strength of a young girl, and the power and pull of her dreams, and that strength and power and pull being discouraged by a fearful father. It’s a movie about yearning, and destiny, and purpose, a longing for something bigger than ourselves. It was a reminder to me, though I wasn’t chasing a demi-god or racing across the ocean, that I was once a young girl who yearned for more and was unafraid.
Watching Moana, I was transformed back to the young girl whose grandparents, a butcher and a retail store clerk, were raising in a lower middle class neighborhood, a girl who checked out books on places like London and Paris and dreamed of one day going there, a girl who wrote poems, sang at lemonade stands to attract more customers, and a girl who wanted to be so many things – a teacher, an archaeologist, a scientist, a singer, a wife, a mom, a writer. I was a girl who dreamed BIG! I have written before about how I was born different from the rest of the women in my family, how I was told by my mom’s former classmate how shy she was and how outgoing and different I was. I was bold, and loud, and took risks, and I was a dreamer. As an only child, my dreams are frequently what kept me company and helped to entertain me, but my dreams weren’t always encouraged. I remember once going to Toys R’ Us with my grandmother – $20 in hand, and her surprise when I picked out a microscope set instead of a Barbie doll. She actually tried to talk me out of the microscope even though I probably had ten other Barbies at home. My grandmother had very old school beliefs about what women could be or do. Instead of being encouraged to study or excel in the arts, I was told to find a man that would take care of me and not to look too far beyond the horizon of my neck of the woods. Looking back, it was always my grandmother cautioning me not to do this, or not to do that, not to go to movies past 7 PM because it was too late to be out, not to get on roller coasters, or go swimming, or lean on the car door because it might fly open. My grandmother was afraid of, seemingly, everything, and while I’ve done some things and taken some risks, I’ve mostly shrunken back and given up many dreams, mostly out of fear. Her cautions caught up with my subconscious and have had me stuck like a deer in the headlights. I know she meant well. I know she loved me, but she has no idea how crippling her fears, cast onto me, have been. For so many years, I’ve played it safe.
Moana stirred something in me tonight. I cried more than once during the movie. I was proud of that character, and the young woman playing her. I connected. I thought of the beauty and symbolism of the islands being created, and afterward, I sat down to pray to God and asked Him to remind me of who He created me to be. I asked Him to renew my courage to take chances and follow my old, dormant dreams. I thanked Him for His strength and power to create.
I have recently felt that maybe I’m too strong in some ways, that I come across in a way that makes me too much for some people. I’ve second guessed so many things about myself and how God created me, so in essence, I’ve been second guessing God. I realized, in my prayer time this evening, that God made me strong and self-assured because He knew I would need to be. He knew that in my own home I would be taught to play small, to play it safe, to live fearfully instead of faithfully. He gifted me with a boisterous personality, a sharp mind, and a soft but strong heart that would recognize His calling. He gave me gifts that would help me survive doubt and fear and all of the other turmoil that surrounded me. Tonight, He reminded me of all of that. He spoke to my heart and reminded me of who He called me to be, and that girl never played small! That girl dreamed and dreamed BIG! I asked Him to renew that spirit in me tonight. Where would I be now if I had followed my heart and passions? To quote Moana:
“See the line where the sky meets the sea, it calls me! And no one knows, how far it goes! If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me, One day I’ll know! If I go there’s just no telling how far I’ll go!”
As I prayed and praised, these words came to me:
You take lava and fire and make islands from it
You take dirt, You take coal and make diamonds of it
Who am I that You are mindful of me?
I am made of fiery lava, and dirt, and coal, and strength, and self-assurance, and perseverance, and dreams, and love…and so are you! Even if no one ever told you, or even if others, even well-meaning family members, discouraged you. Never play small! Believe in yourself and there’s just no telling how far you’ll go!
“What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” – Psalm 8:4
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14