Spiritual Lessons I Learned from Moana

I’ll be honest. Beyond the Polynesian influence of Moana, I didn’t know anything about what to expect from the movie when my sis was saying my niece wanted to go see it. My niece wasn’t going to let up, so I finally took her to see it in 3D. Honestly, my first time seeing a movie in 3D, but it is a MUST for this movie! You’ll thank me later.

Moana’s grandmother is the storyteller as baby Moana & other babies listen in.

We learn about Te Fiti, an island goddess who’s responsible for all the islands that have sprung up out of the ocean. Te Fiti’s heart, a small stone, holds the power to create life & raise new islands. However, because of a demi-god, Maui, and his past endeavors – mainly, stealing the heart of Te Fiti, which he planned to give to humanity as a gift – a curse on the islands has started to kill everything. After Maui fought a lava demon, the heart of Te Fiti and his magical fishhook become lost in the ocean.

As Moana’s grandmother tells it, the only cure for the islands is to find the heart of Te Fiti and return it with the help of Maui & his magical fishhook. Baby Moana ventures out to the beach after the story, where the sea beckons her further & further out by parting for her. Those effects… especially in 3D. Seriously, you’re welcome. moana-gif

As the ocean beckons her, the heart of Te Fiti appears on the parted ocean floor. Before she can hold onto it, her dad rushes out & grabs her from the water. As we see Moana age, we see her strong pull to the water, though she doesn’t understand it. Her father, the chief, is adamant that the island provides everything they need & no one is allowed beyond the reef. Once the darkness starts to affect the island’s food supply, Moana feels the pull of the ocean even more.

Moana discovers the call to the waters is actually in her DNA. Her ancestors were voyagers. Now it makes sense! As her heart’s call feels justified, she ventures out to try to help her people and prove herself. But the first journey to sea isn’t generous and she comes back feeling as if she failed.


Moana’s journey is a lot like ours. Many of us struggle to find our path, the course meant for us. Sometimes, against all odds and influences. Even more, many of us can feel divided between responsibility and passion. Moana has a responsibility to her people, as heir to her chief father. But she also feels a personal pull to the ocean which doesn’t quite fit with her father’s plans for her. A lot of us can get caught between two worlds like Moana. Do we choose the stable career path trusted to pays the bills and give us a 401k? Do we pursue the calling that God placed in us, that beckons us to beyond the safety of the reef? And, like Moana, many of us might venture into the deep end of the pool once. If we aren’t greeted with the success or confirmation we desire, we head back to the shallow end. And, sadly, many of us never leave the shallow end again. “Fool me once…” & all.


We then find out Gramma Tala saw the ocean chose Moana as a baby and kept the heart of Te Fiti the ocean presented to Moana all those years before. With the encouragement that not only is the cry in her DNA, Moana now feels empowered by the ocean’s calling in giving her the lost stone. She then sets course to find Maui & his magical fishhook. With his help, Moana will defeat the demon and return the heart of Te Fiti, saving her island from the darkness.

Sometimes, taking our own leap of faith towards our destiny requires confirmation. We need a Gramma Tala who gives us a stone with the power to create life. We need the ocean choosing us. Confirmation gives us the courage to face the odds & pursue our bigger purposes.


Even though she falters in her course, and the waves flip over her canoe, she wakes up on the island where Maui has been stranded.

Our paths don’t have to be perfect for God to set our course straight & steer us to the exact destination He has for us. Sometimes the only way for us to truly get on course is to stop trying to do it in our own strength.


Sadly for Moana, Maui isn’t on board with her plan to return the heart. Even more, he has been on the small island for 1000 years and tricks her to take her canoe for his own purposes.

Sometimes, on the way to our destiny, we will find people who try to stop us, harm us, take us off track. Even if those people are meant to be used in our destiny, it doesn’t always mean they won’t try to serve their own purposes. Stay focused. There’s always a purpose for the people He places in your path.


Proving her resolve, Moana earns Maui’s respect and submission. Sometimes the person we think is hindering our destiny is a test for us to stand up for ourselves. When we do, instead of being an enemy, they can become an ally. Just because someone starts on your path as an obstacle or opponent doesn’t mean God cannot turn things around & make them a teammate.

Working as a team, Moana and Maui fight off an enemy army trying to take the heart, get Maui’s magical fishhook back from another enemy and head to face the demon to get to Te Fiti to return the heart to its rightful place. This is where the most beautiful twist in the story happens.


Maui battles the demon – unsuccessfully – with his magical fishhook. Moana is left alone to try to return the heart herself. As she figures out a way to maneuver past the demon to get to Te Fiti, Maui returns to help her finish the task. Moana uses his distraction to sail past a blind spot. As she climbs to the top of the mountain, she notices something. It’s the heart.

The HEART of Te Fiti.

The heart doesn’t belong on the mountain… but IN the demon. Without her heart, the island goddess turned into the lava demon. As the power of life was stolen from her; the darkness was her response. The very gift Maui thought he was giving humanity [the heart, life] was actually a curse he was bringing about by taking the same gift from them.


Moana beckons the ocean to part, and allow the fiery demon to come to her, unscathed. Moana’s faith and favor with the ocean allowed it to bend to her request, giving safety for the goddess turned demon.  Visually, the splitting of the waters to the ocean floor reminded me of the parting of the Red Sea. Spiritually, it reminds me of Joshua & the parting of the Jordan. As a reminder of God’s faithfulness, Joshua took 12 stones, representing the 12 tribes, and made a memorial in the midst of the Jordan [in the exact location the priests stood with the Ark of the Covenant]. Similarly, Te Fiti, back to her true self, is a physical reminder of restoration & the exact location Moana’s destiny was fulfilled.

Love. Forgiveness. Grace.

The power of Moana reminding Te Fiti of her true identity, her true destiny, changed everything.


But here’s the thing:

If Moana hadn’t listened to her own destiny, hadn’t figured out her own identity, she wouldn’t have been in a position to help Te Fiti remember hers. If she hadn’t ventured past the reefs, she never would have met with Maui or Te Fiti. If she didn’t overcome the enemies she faced & continue on in the face of danger, she wouldn’t have had the courage to face the goddess, in her ugliest, angriest state.

We often run from our demons, sometimes running for so long, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. But it’s only in facing them that they can be defeated. Even when the biggest demon we face is ourselves.


We don’t know whose destiny we could be impacting, especially negatively, by not following our own.

We don’t know whose purpose is in risk of not being fulfilled if we aren’t fulfilling our own.

We never stop to realize what beckons us isn’t always just for us.



Who knew a Disney movie with the niecey poo would lead to all this?!

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