What Moana taught me about calling.

on December 17, 2016 in Culture Matters with 20 comments by

Two friends and I went to see Disney’s Moana yesterday afternoon. I was excited for sure (I tend to either like movies or LOVE movies…so it’s always exciting for me) but gosh it’s a good one, y’all. And in a way that only a God as kind as ours would do, He put His hand right over a pain point in my heart while I watched Moana.

I don’t want to give any movie details away, but as brave little Moana heads out on her mission, she carries a glowing green stone with her, the visible symbol of what she is called to, the important work she’s been chosen (by the ocean) to do.

When some time has passed (about an hour for us, a few days for her) and Moana has done everything she knows to do and is still failing, when she is deeply disappointed and out of strength, in the middle of the night out on the ocean in her canoe, she decides she can’t do it anymore. This calling on her life is too much and she turns to the ocean and with the stone in her hands, begins to speak to the waters.

“Why did you bring me here?” she asks, “I’m not the right person. You have to choose someone else. Choose someone else. Please.” She holds out the stone, offering it back to the ocean, and a wave reaches into her palm and takes the green stone and lets it drop through it’s water to the bottom of the sea. And then Moana cries.

And so did I, right there in the movie theater.

Because I don’t know about you, but there are days that I look back to God and open my hand and say, “take back this calling, please. I can’t do this. Let someone else have it.”

I want Him to choose someone else.

It feels too hard.

I tried and didn’t succeed like I thought I would.

This isn’t how I pictured my calling, my life, my ministry, my future. (Can I get an amen?)

Just this week I said to God, “Hey, I didn’t sign up for this and I don’t like it. Do You even care about that?”

(Sure, I’m talking about being single, but also some other areas of my life that are in a bit of turmoil currently.)

Somedays, not most days, but probably more days than I want to admit, I ball up all the things I feel called to write about and talk about and live through and I stretch out my hands and ask Him, “Why did you bring me HERE?” And I remind Him I’m not the right person. And I ask Him to choose someone else. Please.

And it makes me cry.

Throughout the film, Moana has a mantra about who she is, where she is from, and what she is doing. A few minutes after this heartbreaking scene when she gives her calling back, through a series of flashbacks and a visit from someone in her past (no spoilers here!), she remembers who she is. She remembers her unique spot on the planet. She remembers what this is all for. And she dives deep into the ocean after that glowing green stone. Moana grabs it for herself this time. What was handed to her before is now something she is choosing, because she sees how much it matters.

(And now I am a MESS in the theater.)

Because for every conversation I start where I hand back to God all that He has called me to do and the life He has given me, He speaks up quickly and reminds me of who I am and why I’m here and what this is all for. And then I have the strength, and the genuine desire, to CHOOSE this life for myself. To believe that it matters, to be grateful for the calling and the opportunities and my unique spot on the planet.

Phew. I didn’t plan for Moana to talk to me about God and my calling and remind me to persevere and even rejoice in where I find myself today- personally and professionally- but she did. What a beautiful and kind moment from God to me in the middle of an animated kid movie. What a way to remind me that yes, He does care and yes, He does see, and yes, all of this matters. And I’m really really grateful.

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  1. posted on Dec 17, 2016 at 9:40 AM  |  reply

    Annie, I tell God I quit every day. I’m sure He feels like it’s a broken record. It feels too big, too hard, and I’m not wise enough, smart enough, blah, blah, blah. Then, when I finish my pity party/panic attack, He pulls me into His lap and says, “I never asked you to do it without Me. I’m here. Don’t try and do it on your own, because you can’t. But with Me, it’s a home run.” So I pull myself up and face the day, hoping and praying He’s bringing His 100% because I know my 100% just won’t cut it.
    YOU have such a gift and you bless so many. I KNOW that you’re walking in your destiny. Keep speaking. Keep writing. Keep blogging. But most of all, just keep being Annie. It’s why we all love you!

    • posted on Dec 17, 2016 at 10:17 AM  |  reply

      Yes yes yes to all of this. I think quietly quitting is one of the best tactics. 🙂 I do it a lot too.And yes- I can’t do it without HIM. Don’t want to. Love you. Thanks for your words.

  2. posted on Dec 17, 2016 at 10:34 AM  |  reply

    Wow. You hit my heart today. I have been single mom for an entire week with four more days to go and had a major mistake at work that I had to meet with the boss about. So I had a complete meltdown yesterday afternoon and told my girls I quit and they needed to find someone else to break up their fights and went out the front door for a while.
    I sobbed outside. I felt wretched. I told God that I needed help.
    Last night He gently brought to mind the refining process. I am being refined and the heat is unbearable. It hurts. I want to be anywhere else than where He has me, but it’s for His glory and for His name. The impurities that are surfacing are awful and embarrassing but He is removing them for me.
    Your post today is giving me courage though I still feel wrecked and flat on my face.
    Thank you!

  3. posted on Dec 17, 2016 at 11:15 AM  |  reply

    Ok, well, you’re convincing me to go see a movie I had 0 interest in. I guess my friends were right. 😛

  4. amber little
    posted on Dec 17, 2016 at 1:20 PM  |  reply

    And the ending…oh the ending and the purpose of that stone and making something lovely from the ugly. 💕

  5. Brenda T.
    posted on Dec 17, 2016 at 2:46 PM  |  reply

    I just have to tell you how much I am soaking up everything Annie Downs these days. I first heard you on a Podcast with Jamie Ivey and fell in love. I’m now your latest stalker, and am soaking up your Podcasts. I haven’t read one of your books –oops — but have them both on my Kindle and will be devouring them over Christmas. I love your laugh, your radical embrace of your calling, your honesty — everything. I want you to know that you are not just reaching single ladies, or athletes — you are ministering to moms a decade older than you. God is using you in powerful ways and I applaud your reckless abandon to HIS purposes, even when it is not the path you have chosen for yourself. I’m your new biggest cheerleader and I want you to know, from someone a decade ahead of you — how are making a difference.

  6. posted on Dec 17, 2016 at 2:58 PM  |  reply

    i think this post is important because it makes what you do more real for those of us who sit in your audiences or read your books. your words today helped clarify that there is a weight that comes with calling that isn’t true if it isn’t too big for you in your own strength, for me in my own strength. and yet who wants to admit that what you dreamed of–writing, speaking, life–isn’t quite what you thought it would be? absolutely no one, for fear of being misunderstood and judged and abandoned, there in your/my puddle of snot and wadded up tissues.

    thanks for trusting us, for being transparent. i hope the people you were with didn’t pretend you weren’t sniffling and wiping your eyes. i hope you felt known and understood and accepted in the midst of the revelation from God through Moana. He is the God Who sees (Genesis 16:13).

  7. Brittany
    posted on Dec 18, 2016 at 1:05 PM  |  reply

    I just love your writing and perspective on my new favorite movie.

  8. Kaylee
    posted on Dec 19, 2016 at 8:02 AM  |  reply

    I am so glad to know I wasn’t the only adult woman a mess in the theater while watching this movie! It cut to my heart too. I was overcome by emotion. And you said it all so beautifully. Thank you, Annie.

  9. sarah
    posted on Dec 19, 2016 at 9:34 AM  |  reply

    and this is why I cry every.time I listen to the soundtrack (yes,even when the kids get dropped off I’m still listening to it!) she touches something in me and I’m praying my 12 year old daughter will grasp it too! love the way you wrote about it, it’s such an important truth to remember! thank you!

  10. posted on Dec 28, 2016 at 9:38 AM  |  reply

    […] Annie F Downs is a non-fiction writer and I love her. She writes blog post that are so real and down to earth. Everything she writes seems to resonate with me, and I really loved this post about calling and Moana. […]

  11. posted on Jan 03, 2017 at 8:15 PM  |  reply

    And now I’m crying. You have no idea, how much I needed these words in THIS moment. God knew I needed it and I’m ever so thankful. I thank and praise Him daily for giving me such great role models, like you and so many others to look up to and remember that everything we’re doing is to bring HIM glory, so why in the world would we stop doing that?! You have been such an inspiration and encouragement to me along my journey. I hope and pray that my writing will inspire people just as yours has done for me over and over again.

    There’s nothing more I can say except thank you God and thank you Annie!

  12. posted on Jan 08, 2017 at 4:02 PM  |  reply

    Annie, I’ve followed you now for about 2 years now, and absolutely fell in love with you on snapchat/insta stories… you make me laugh out loud and I think we’d be friends in real life. Also, I’m obsessed with That Sounds Fun. So I guess I’m a Fan Girl? Is that what they call it?

    Thanks for sharing this. Thanks for writing. Thanks for being brave to do the ministry God’s called you to. I know we don’t know the ins and outs of all that it takes (I’m sure not always glamorous). I wish I had a teaspoon of the amount of courage and bravery you have. Onward, Friend. We’re cheering you on—God’s using you in mighty, mighty ways.

    Also, i’m friends with Eve too. I’m a former YL staff friend — So I KNOW we’d for real be friends 😉

  13. posted on Jan 19, 2017 at 6:08 AM  |  reply

    Thank you for sharing. Great article. I myself feel like that life is going around in circles as I lose focus on what I think is God’s call for me. Hopefully I can pull through this period by His grace

  14. Wendy
    posted on Jan 27, 2017 at 10:08 PM  |  reply

    This is awesome!! I thought I was the only one that felt this way after watching the movie.
    Thank you for sharing this!

  15. posted on Feb 01, 2017 at 9:39 AM  |  reply

    Beautiful! I completely understand the doubts and feelings of being overwhelmed with the purpose God has given us. You clearly have been called to use your gifts for God, to encourage and inspire others. I look forward to reading future posts. Thank you.

  16. posted on Feb 06, 2017 at 7:31 PM  |  reply

    Hey Annie! I used to read your blog and then Google Reader shut down and with it I lost my reading list. And then the other day you crossed my mind and I wondered how you’re doing and if you were still blogging. And yay! You’re still here. It’s so nice to read what you’ve been up to. I’m subscribed again, this time with Newsify. Let’s hope for the best. 🙂

  17. Kellie
    posted on Mar 14, 2017 at 11:35 PM  |  reply

    Thank you for explaining to me why I was crying during Moana. I completely lost it and couldn’t explain why. This hits the nail on the head, Annie. Now I can’t wait to watch it again!! Thanks for sharing your gift with us. You inspire me, and I’m grateful for how Jesus uses you.

  18. posted on Mar 26, 2017 at 10:41 AM  |  reply

    Can I like this a thousand times? This spoke straight to the core of some things I’ve been wrestling with in the past few years. It’s tough and messy and doesn’t look anything like I’ve planned (and I’m talking about calling and being single and a ton of stuff that seems too interwoven to separate right now, too), but I keep getting reminded if I stick with God, He will make use of all of it for His glory. I haven’t seen Moana yet, but now I’ve got to. Thanks so much for this Annie!

  19. Promise Rocha
    posted on Sep 11, 2017 at 3:52 AM  |  reply

    I think you just cleared up a few areas of fog in my life that have spent some time being unnoticed, mislabeled, misunderstood or flat out denied. I am going through a very difficult time in all areas of life right now and it’s been pretty unbearable for months. It’s one of those times so painful that it will be life changing, even if it was only meant to give a couple smallish life lessons, the depth and endurance of the pain changes you forever and you can feel it as you are nearly crushed by each breath you take. I call it growing pains. They stink. But they are necessary to grow past certain barriers. One specific source of pain is my marriage seeming to be completely over. One night to avoid the sadness of being alone in our sad and broken home but also not wanting to add to problems with poor choices, I decided to Redbox a couple movies. I chose Pete’s Dragon and Moana. My heart was too hurt for real world issues and any potential of unhappy endings. I’ve been basically obsessed with Moana since that night. I watch it several times a week and still cry every time. I sing How Far I’ll Go and We Know the Way almost all day. I feel drawn to the movie so strongly that it’s almost like a physical push. I hadn’t quite been able to say why. I figured it was me wanting so badly to remember who I am and to connect with some piece of strength inside myself that would be the start of becoming the one who has what it takes to save my world and not question that it could be done or that I can do it. So I’ve been watching to try and find which of Moana’s strengths I am not putting into practice in my life. It’s not good when your life is so far away from what you recognize or who you remember being that you’ve resorted to consulting animated fictional teenage girls as reference to show you how you can “adult” again. Honestly, “adulting” is too advanced. I’ve been trying to “human” and really thought that Moana might remind me of some piece that I let slip away unknowingly. That’s sad to admit how hard I’ve been seeking any clue and how far I’ve been reaching and grasping at the feeblest of straws. Reading your experience moved me so much. And it made me cry. A lot. But it helps me see where I really am at right now in this lesson. I hadn’t realized that I gave my stone back a while ago. And that is why I don’t feel connected to anything or have any hope, the hope I always carry and why I can’t come up with any vision or concept of future for myself, let alone figure out how to get there. That’s a lot to have hit you at once. But you also gave me the most important part. He never said I have to be alone in this. And alone is all I have been able to see. It just goes to show what He can make miracles out of. A blog post from a kind hearted stranger about her own struggles and a Disney non-Princess can take the five minutes it took to read the article and answer questions that months of pursuing that info didn’t provide me. But God works all things for my good and He gives me what I need in His time, which is perfect for the outcome I need, even though it rarely goes with the result I would like at the time. It’s funny that He knows in what way, using which tools He can say what we will finally hear. I want you to know you will be in my prayers for whatever you are going through and to sustain the bravery allowing you to share your story to help others and also that you are blessed x10 for the blessings you helped come to be by caring enough to remind others of God’s love and faithfulness and that they can have that from Him, too.

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