The Lion King: Repentance and Our Divine Identity
The Lion King is a Disney classic that teaches a powerful message about remembering who we are and learning from the past.
Young Simba is deceived into blaming himself for his father’s death and runs away. He then meets some new friends who convince him to adopt a “Hakuna Matata” attitude in attempt to bury his feelings of guilt, hoping to find relief from his past by hiding it. However, true healing only comes when Simba remembers his royal identity and responsibilities as a leader and moves forward.
Like Simba, we all make mistakes that bring feelings of shame and guilt. While our first instinct may be to hide or run from our problems, true healing only comes in and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. By confessing and forsaking our sins (see D&C 58:43), we can find forgiveness, relief, and strength to move forward. As Rafiki wisely says, “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.”
Forgetting our divine identity may hinder us from turning to Christ and fully reaching our potential as divine heirs. We may feel unworthy to pray or feel that our Heavenly Father will never love us again because of what we’ve done. In times like this, Mufasa’s stirring words to his son can be helpful for all of us to remember:
“You have forgotten who you are, and so you have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. . . . You are my son, and the one true king. Remember who you are.”
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As we remember that we are truly sons and daughters of God, who will always love us, we can find the courage to face our past and experience real change through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Gospel Topics Essay “Becoming Like God” teaches this concept beautifully:
“Each [person] has an eternal core and is ‘a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents’ (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). Each possesses seeds of divinity and must choose whether to live in harmony or tension with that divinity. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people may ‘progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny.’ . . . [We] believe that it is only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that we can have a sure hope of eternal glory and that the power of His Atonement is fully accessed only by faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end in following the instruction and example of Christ (2 Nephi 31:20).”
By acknowledging who we are, repenting, and following the example of the Savior, we can rise above our past and reach our full potential in the kingdom of God, just as Simba took his place in the Circle of Life.