I first saw the movie Moana with Narayan a couple months ago, and we’ve watched it at least 3 times a week since that first time – it’s definitely our family’s favorite movie since the release of Kung Fu Panda. It has something for everyone, equal parts adorable yet educational and powerful, touching on aspects of Polynesian culture, a teenager’s struggle between responsibility to her family and her own desires in life, empathy, magical creatures and so much more.

SPOILER ALERT – If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I highly recommend you watch it before reading on and spoiling the ending!

In the movie, Te Fiti is the goddess of creation. After her heart had been stolen by the demigod Maui, she became Te Ka, a demon manifested of fire and lava. A damaged and emotionless shell of her former self, Te Ka slowly plunges the world into darkness and eradicates humanity as punishment for Maui’s act.

I love the entire movie and the symbolism throughout, but it’s the ending that struck me quite powerfully.

In the ending scene, the ocean parts and Te Ka bears down angrily as Moana approaches her with the stolen heart, reminding her that the hurt she’s experienced and the angry, loveless version of herself she’s become is not who she truly is, singing Know Who you Are: 

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.

Once Moana replaces the stolen heart, Te Fiti is revived and Te Ka’s curse comes to an end. It was Moana’s reminder that although Te Fiti’s heart had been stolen, the destroyer of life she became as a result, is not who she truly is that hit home hard.

I think it serves as a reminder anyone can apply to their life and experiences. We’ve all been through things – terrible, hurtful, life-altering things, but our inner demons that manifest as a result of the hurt and pain of those wrong doings don’t define us.

I’ve held onto many things that have happened to me in my life, causing years of hurt and pain I couldn’t bring myself to let go or forgive myself for. Up until I saw the symbolism of Te Ka transforming into Te Fiti, I felt as if the pain and hurt was just part of me, part of who I am. But what that scene taught me is the hurt and the pain actually do not define me, it’s not who I am.

We are all so much more than the things that have been done to us. And when we let go, we will find unconditional self-love and forgiveness.

Screen grabs from Disney’s Moana.