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What Disney’s “Encanto” Can Teach Us About Our Faith

January 23, 2022

In typical Disney fashion, they’ve decided to give us another beautiful, deep film filled with catchy songs, beautiful animation, and a story that will be ingrained in your brain for a long time.

The story follows the protagonist, Mirabel, the young daughter of a Columbian family, living in a magical ‘casita’, who all received supernatural gifts after surviving a tragedy. Well, everyone received gifts, except Mirabel. The film follows her journey of realizing why she wasn’t given a gift, what is happening to the magic, and what that means for her family.

For those who have not seen the film, I would 100% recommend seeing it. See it with your family, friends, and make sure you save time for a little discussion after. This article is not a review, and full of spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie, go see it first, and read this after.

SPOILERS AHEAD

One of the most fascinating things I found about this movie is that every character carried with them a beautiful spiritual lesson that relates directly to the teachings of the Bible, starting with the matriarch of the family, Abuela Alma

Abuela Alma

The grandmother, matriarch, and at times, villian of the family had been through a lot. She and her husband rescued their three young children from a village being violently taken over by savages. They worked with the community to find a better life, until her husband was forced to sacrifice his life for their safety. Following his death is when Abuela Alma is given the miracle candle and the magical ‘casita’ to help bring the community a new life together.

As we find out later in the film, Abuela has been psychologically holding the family hostage, with everyone afraid to break from her mold to avoid upsetting her, and breaking the appearance of the perfect family.

When the moment happened where her husband was killed in front of her, we see a beautifully written scene where Abuela is overcome with pain. In the moment of pain, we see all the mountains climb around her, building up walls from the outside world, and sealing her in from anymore hurt.

While this is a natural response to any traumatic moment, we need to leave room for growth, and work to not let our pain cause hurt for others.

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Romans 12:16

When we choose to force people to live by our standards, putting pressure on them, and hurting them by avoiding our own pain, we are preventing them from living in harmony with those around them, as well as preventing ourselves from doing the same

Isabela

Isabela is the eldest sister of Mirabel, and is praised for being “perfect”. She was given the gift of creating flowers, while maintaining her “perfect” life as a woman with perfect beauty, the perfect boyfriend, and everyone loving her for having no faults. Throughout the movie she practically floats on vines creating beautiful tapestries of flowers as Mirabel watches with a hint of jealousy.

What we see revealed later is a moment where Isabel drops her “perfect” facade and in a moment of anger, says “I never wanted to marry him, I was only doing it for the family”. In her moment of truth, a cactus pops up, and she looks in wonder at the fact that she has the power to create more than just flowers when she isn’t holding back.

In faith, there is a temptation to give off “perfect” vibes. We want people to see us as having it all together, as having all the answers, and never struggling, when in reality, the opposite has a more powerful effect.

When we’re open about our vulnerabilities, we can bring people along the journey with us more closely, and unlocks truths about ourselves that can change lives that we never saw possible.

These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.

Isaiah 29:13

Isabela had no idea how powerful she was until she dropped her act and started being real. Christians can do the same. Once we start acting like Christ and not just saying it, we can change lives bigger than we ever thought possible.

Bruno

Bruno is a mysterious character that holds a huge key to unlocking the meaning of this film, and represents something huge in our lives.

Bruno was given the gift of seeing the future, but when he started telling people things that they didn’t want to hear (that ended up being true), the ostracized him, refused to even mention his name, and he locked himself away in the house. His own mother forbids the family to speak of him.

When it’s discovered later in the movie that he’s been there all along, in the walls, watching and craving involvement and love in the family, there were a few things that struck me:

  1. Bruno was patching the house from the outside. When cracks started to form in the magical ‘casita’, Bruno was doing his best to patch things up to protect the family from what he knew was coming. Whenever we have a struggle in our lives, it’s so easy to just want to patch things up quick, EVEN THOUGH WE KNOW the issue is deeper than that. WE KNOW we need to change our hearts, but we avoid it.
  2. Abuela forbid mention of Bruno. Whenever we have sin it our lives, it’s so easy to just cast it aside, pretend it’s not there and choose not to think about it. However, it is there. It knows the truth of what we’ve been through, and if we don’t confront it, we live in constant fear of it being revealed.

Bruno ended up being the one to reveal the truth to Mirabel of what she needed to do to really heal their family. Sometimes, we just need to step up and do it.


Many of the other characters are reflective of the struggles in our lives that we need to overcome:

Luisa:

Feels forced to be strong for the town and struggles with high expectations

Pepa:

Her emotions create weather, so she forced herself not to feel things as to not be a burden on others

Camilo:

Gifted with shapeshifting, he was always pretending to be someone else, and was almost never his true self

Dolores:

Her gift at hearing made her more focused on everyone else, and not on herself

Scripture reminds us:

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 149:14-16

We all have things that make us unique, but depending on how we use those gifts, it can create beauty, or isolate us.

Choose beauty. Choose community. Choose to use your gifts to build each other up, and not isolate yourself.

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