4 Disney Movies That Teach Powerful Gospel Lessons

Finding Nemo—Endure to the End

Marlin the clownfish is beset with an ocean of fears, paranoia, pain, and neuroses. Like many of us, he has experienced the loss that inevitably accompanies life—in fact, it is the end goal of life. But Marlin allows this pain to paralyze him rather than motivate him. He can’t move on.

Not until he meets his endearing friend, Dory, who teaches him, “When life gets you down, do you wanna know what you've gotta do? Just keep swimming!"

So it is with each of us. Instead of being helpless beings floundering in a deep, dark ocean of turmoil, we have the choice to make the most of our journey.

As President Thomas S. Monson testified:

“Time never stands still. It must steadily march on, and with the marching comes the changes. Of course, there is no going back, but only forward. Rather than dwelling on the past, we should make the most of today, of the here and now, doing all we can to provide pleasant memories for the future." 

But, just like Marlin, we might ask ourselves, "How do you know something bad won't happen?" And, the realistic—though sometimes brutal—response to that question is we do. We do know that something bad, painful, challenging, or heartbreaking will enter into our lives. It’s one of the inevitabilities of living.

But the beautiful thing about this realization is that, with God, those experiences do not need to paralyze us. They do not need to overwhelm us or rob us of the lasting peace and joy that comes through our one constant source of strength—God.

All we must do is rely on Him—I know, it’s harder said than done in our world of uncertainties and disappointments. But, as Dory points out, "Trust. It's what friends do." We too must trust our Heavenly Father, for He is our dearest friend.

“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life" (2 Nephi 31:20).

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Beauty and the Beast—Our Hearts Can Change

The Disney “tale as old as time” mirrors beautifully the quintessential tale of love that spans all time—Christ’s sacrifice of His life and our Heavenly Father’s sacrifice of His Son for us.

Beauty and the Beast shows how love has the power to change hearts and shape us into something more. Love softens. It refines. It brings out the best in those who are loved, and those who love.

The Beast's magical transformation at the end of the movie is only made possible through Belle’s selfless love—a love that allows her to look beyond his gruesome appearance and gruff manners to something greater underneath.

This ability sounds very familiar. In fact, it’s something the Lord has commanded us to do:

"But the Lord said unto Samuel, look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7).

This level of love can be summed up with one word—charity. Christ’s love for us is devoid of any self-interest or pettiness. It is not dependent on our abilities, fashion-sense, appearance, or actions. It is universal. It is constant. And it is truly life-changing.

Elder John H. Groberg testified:

“When filled with God’s love, we can do and see and understand things that we could not otherwise do or see or understand. Filled with His love, we can endure pain, quell fear, forgive freely, avoid contention, renew strength, and bless and help others in ways surprising even to us.

"Jesus Christ was filled with unfathomable love as He endured incomprehensible pain, cruelty, and injustice for us. Through His love for us, He rose above otherwise insurmountable barriers. His love knows no barriers. He invites us to follow Him and partake of His unlimited love so we too may rise above the pain and cruelty and injustice of this world and help and forgive and bless.”

Despite the world’s pessimistic outlooks saying the contrary, we can change. As President Monson noted:

“I’m reminded of the words of a prison warden who taught this fact. A critic who knew of Warden Duffy’s efforts to rehabilitate men said, ‘Don’t you know that leopards can’t change their spots?’

"Warden Duffy responded, ‘You should know I don’t work with leopards. I work with men, and men change every day.’”

And, as in Beauty and the Beast, the motivating force behind our desire to change as well as the means to change itself comes only through our Heavenly Father and Savior’s love.

As Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught:

“The more we allow the love of God to govern our minds and emotions—the more we allow our love for our Heavenly Father to swell within our hearts—the easier it is to love others with the pure love of Christ. As we open our hearts to the glowing dawn of the love of God, the darkness and cold of animosity and envy will eventually fade.”

Lead image from IMDb
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