My daughter loves Moana. There was a six month period where she asked to watch it everyday. At the end of the movie, there is a compelling scene that sticks with me in motherhood. Moana has finally made it to the giant monster at the end of her journey to replace the stone heart of Te Fiti that will bring back life to all of the islands. The monster blocking her way is a raging, screaming, wailing, lava-filled villain spewing red-hot rocks and crushing mountains in the most intimidating fury ever witnessed. Moana gets past her and reaches the place where the goddess Te Fiti should be, only to find that she isn’t there. In an unexpected twist of plot, Moana realizes that the monster and the goddess are one and the same. Without her heart, the goddess has lost her identity and degenerated into a horrific beast.
Have you ever started your day as a benevolent goddess only to have some circumstance, person, or conversation steal your heart and result in your transformation into a monstrous beast of horrific proportions? I have. I’m that mom. I’m not the exploding type of mom when I get angry, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have my own ways of making sure that everyone around me knows I’m upset.
My entire life I have prided myself on having a naturally long fuse. It takes a lot to ruffle my feathers and get a rise out of me. Somehow, God blessed me with an amazing toddler who was born with a built-in pair of scissors to snip that fuse short. How does she know just how to get me to hit my limit so quickly? How can she make me reach ‘enough’ with just a few words or actions? It’s a gift.
It is so easy to allow myself to believe that the true issue is not my character, but her attitude. I wish that I could say that it’s her fault that I act like a lava spewing beast, allowing my anger to gurgle and bubble up at the slightest inconvenience. Unfortunately, it’s just not true. I love how C.S. Lewis talks about this very differentiation in “Mere Christianity.” He explains, “If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.”
Our actions and reactions are a choice. Unlike our toddlers, we fully comprehend consequences and have had a lifetime to learn to exercise self-control. The people in our lives (especially the little ones we love so much) are not the source of the ugliness in our hearts, they are only the magnifying glass that brings it to our attention. They are the light that reveals just how much growing we still have to do. We need that reminder of our continual dependence on God’s grace. Therefore, our children, complete with their skills at uncovering our flaws, are a gift.
To remind the monster of her true identity, Moana, in typical Disney fashion, breaks into song. The lyrics to the song, “Know Who You Are” should be posted on every mother’s mirror. They say, “I have crossed the horizon to find you, I know your name. They have stolen the heart from inside you, but this does not define you. This is not who you are. You know who you are.” I have a theory that all of the great stories that have ever been told are just revisions of the greatest story written in God’s Word. Moana is no different. The words to her song are strangely similar to the message of Scripture laid out in Ezekial 11:17-20.
“Therefore say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again.’ “They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”
God is in the work of redemption. He has crossed the horizon between heaven and earth to find us. He knows the labels we have given ourselves. He knows that we are the ones who toss our self-control to the wind. But this is not who we are, and He should know, because He created us in His own image. He is taking our heart of stone and replacing it with a desire for Him. He knows who we are, but more importantly, He knows whose we are. We are His, and He is our God!
Let’s drop the label of the being “the one that loses her cool” and walk in freedom knowing that because of Christ we aren’t resigned to being THAT mom!