Monday, May 23, 2022

Lessons About Purpose From Moana: Part 9 - Te Ka & Te Fiti

I saved this one for last, probably because it was the most powerful of all of the revelations God gave to me through this movie.  Before I started writing this series on Moana, I obsessively watched the movie for three weeks. I just couldn't shake it or get it out of my head. I needed to watch it. There was something intense within me that just had to figure some things out. I felt like this movie unraveled me and the only way I could make sense of it was to write about it.

For weeks, I couldn't understand why I needed to keep watching this movie. At the same time, God was orchestrating some things behind the scenes. I felt led to reconnect with an old friend, and did so, all the while feeling nervous and second-guessing myself, because this old friend surely had enough friends who could come alongside her, didn't she? 

As I kept watching this movie, I began to see this old friend in a new light. One day I was watching Moana and reached the end. All of a sudden, clarity came crashing down on me and I understood that God had been leading me to reach out to this old friend because her heart had been stolen. 

And it had been missing for a very, very long time. 

And worst of all, NO ONE NOTICED.

That is the part that utterly crushed me. And it set in motions a series of events that only God could have orchestrated and ordained, renewing that old friendship and somehow shaping it into something even more beautiful.

When Te Fiti's heart is stolen from her, we see a darkness spread over her. It is swift and leaves nothing untouched. There is so much darkness and damage that an evil fire demon named Te Ka rises up and surrounds Te Fiti, becoming an impenetrable barrier so that no one can ever reach Te Fiti again.

In some ways, Te Ka has become a protector of Te Fiti. She doesn't have her heart, and so essentially, Te Ka surrounds Te Fiti and will not let anything or anyone get near her. That is why Maui and Moana find themselves trying to fight Te Ka. Their biggest obstacle in getting the heart back to Te Fiti is this lava monster. 

It is in trying to get through a narrow opening to Te Fiti that Te Ka strikes them down. This is the event that cracks Maui's hook and it is also the event where he walks away, leaving Moana to restore the heart that Maui stole.

Moana is not deterred. With renewed vigor and hope, she is determined to make it past Te Ka, to Te Fiti, so that she can restore the heart. She is almost there, but Te Ka is bigger and stronger.  Just when the battle is fiercest and it is clear that Moana will not make it, Maui returns to the fight once more. 

If running away is Maui's biggest flaw, then running right back into the fight is one of his greatest strengths. 

I'll give Maui this: he ALWAYS came back. No matter how much the world hurt him. No matter how prideful and arrogant he was. No matter how distracted from his true purpose he had become. He knew what was right, and in the end, no matter how long it took, he always dusted himself off and put himself back in the fight.

And he comes to Moana's rescue at just the right time. But he doesn't take on the burden of restoring the heart of Te Fiti. What he does do is give Moana the time she needs to get through the opening. He sacrifices his own desires, he pushes past his fear of being nothing without his hook, and he faces Te Ka one last time, knowing it is very likely the end of Maui, demigod of the wind and sea. 

Maui had come face to face with who he was, what he had done, and then decided who he wanted to be. He knew that he would lose his hook, which to him felt like the only value he had to offer. But he gave it anyway, because he was finally willing to own his culpability in all of it and he understood that it was the LEAST he could do.

Because of Maui's sacrifice, Moana is finally able to make it through to Te Fiti. Maui yells to Moana to get the heart to the spiral, so Moana races up to the top of this desolate island. When she gets there, there is no spiral. 

As she always does, Moana sees past the surface. Past the fury and the raging and the screaming. While Te Ka has her heart set on Te Fiti's, Moana has eyes only for Te Ka's heart. 

Suddenly, this is no longer about Te Fiti. Something has changed within Moana. 

She SEES Te Ka. 

She sees who Te Ka truly is.

And so we come to the most pivotal scene in the movie, and it is a mirror of what God has been teaching me over this last month.

Moana truly SEES Te Ka, probably for the first time ever. 

She understands, intuitively, why Te Ka is raging so hard to get to Te Fiti's heart. 

And suddenly, she isn't afraid. 

She doesn't run or try to hide. 

In a moment of clarity, Moana knows exactly what to do. 

Because Moana knows WHO Te Ka really is.  

If you have never seen the movie, I encourage you to watch it in full, but for the sake of this post, this is the scene, the one that leaves me weeping and filled with purpose:

Te Ka has simply been Te Fiti all along, living without her heart for 1,000 years. 

Te Fiti's heart was stolen from her, and this event was SO traumatic that in a way, Te Fiti became completely disengaged from her heart. Doesn't our unhealed trauma leave us like this? Without the heart inside, protected as it should be, Te Fiti quickly became overcome by darkness. She was burned up, hardened by her pain, and left raging without any way of escape. She stayed this way, continuing to build layer upon layer of protection, year after year, until suddenly, no one even recognized Te Fiti for who she really was. <-- TRAUMA!

Here is where God brought me at the end of all of this.

There are people out there right now, in my very life, who have had their hearts stolen. 

There are GODLY people even, right in our churches, who are crushed under the weight of not being SEEN. They fight and flail about in the water, screaming and raging for someone to SEE them. For someone to see that the fire burning inside of them is trauma and pain, and they wait there wounded and bleeding, just praying for someone to restore their heart. They are surrounded by wind and waves and cannot get to safety on their own. We must be willing to dive into the water and GO GET THEM!

We walk next to people in our daily lives and we hug them as we go by, never really knowing that they have become a shell of who they once were. Someone has stolen their heart. Maybe it was someone who had bad intentions, and maybe the person doing the harm was the very person sent to protect their hearts.  

I can't just sit by any longer and pretend that I am innocent of trampling over hearts and lives. There have been hearts that I have stolen. There have been Godly people within the body of Christ to whom I KNOW I have caused great harm and it is devastating to know that in that person's life, I am Maui--that for selfish reasons, through the lens of my own unhealed trauma and pain, I placed myself above another, and took what did not belong to me. I am guilty of this. And I can't undo the harm I caused. I couldn't even return the heart to these people.

And perhaps that is why I am so spurred on by Moana and this idea of restoring hearts. Because I know the great pain of having stolen someone's heart. I have seen the devastation it leaves in its wake. Even now, ten years later, I still see the craters it has left in peoples' lives. I see the havoc it wreaks even now in my mind, as I have to war daily with unbidden thoughts. I am wrecked that there once used to live within me a wounded animal that lashed out at those who never deserved it. I am crushed that my pain caused even a moment of pain in someone else's life. I have had to come face to face with the very wretched person that was at the center of the old me. I have done horrible things, and I will spend the rest of my life trying to make amends for even the tiniest fraction of it.

Here is what I want you to hear, if you are tossed about by the wind and waves and you are drowning under the weight of it all:


I will be your lifeline.


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.

I know who you are.

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