“Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him (Psalm 98:1).”
A new year is supposedly a time of change. What most people think about is making resolutions to change themselves in some way.
This isn’t the theme of the current animated fantasy movie “Brave”. According to the protagonist Merida, a princess, the person that really needs transformation is her mother Elinor.
Elinor and her husband King Fergus have invited allied Scottish clans to their castle so that the first-born sons can compete for the hand of the teenage Merida. However, the spunky young lass wants no part of this arrangement. This is understandable, as she can run rings around the doofus boys who are her suitors in every way.
In scenes as old as the hills, Merida and Elinor have clash after clash. Teenager against parent. What a surprise.
Merida is out in the forest one day when she encounters a “will o’ the wisp” which leads her to a witch’s cottage. Merida arranges to buy a cake which the witch has promised will “change” her mother.
After Elinor unsuspectedly eats a piece, she is changed alright. She is turned into a bear.
This is bad enough, but the impact of the event is exacerbated by the family history. Her husband King Fergus is renowned for having fought and defeated a monster bear, losing his leg in the process. So the king has no love for bears.
Merida and Elinor flee the palace and find a holographic recording left by the witch. This message says that the spell will become permanent “by the second sunrise” unless Merida “mends the bond torn by pride”. Merida takes this to mean that she is to repair the family tapestry she tore during one of her fights with her mother.
Merida and Elinor reenter the castle and take the tapestry as they are being pursued by Fergus and the clans. Merida mends the tapestry as they once again flee.
In the exciting conclusion, Merida fights off her own father and the others, telling them “”I will not let you kill my mother!”. Of course, they have no idea what she is talking about.
In the process, the evil bear defeated by her father shows up and attempts to swallow Merida. Elinor fights off her fellow bear and this enemy is killed.
As the sun rises on the second day, Merida remembers the parameters of the witch’s curse and throws the tapestry over Elinor. However, it appears to be too late.
Merida cries and kneels before her mother and exclaims
“Oh, no! I don’t understand. I… Oh, mom, I’m sorry. This is all my fault. I did this to you, to us. You’ve always been there for me. You’ve never given up on me. I just need you back. I want you back, mommy. I love you.”
Merida feels the touch of her mother and looks up to see that her mother is once again human. Elinor hugs and kisses her daughter.
“You’ve changed!”, Merida screams. Elinor replies, “Oh darling. We both have.”
The real bond torn by pride has been mended: by love.
I think many of us are like Merida. We claim we need to change, but what we really want is for the people who are causing us grief to be transformed.
What we don’t understand is the impact our own negative behavior has on those around us, especially those close to us. We most likely have had a major role in making the person who they are today.
We like Merida could state,”I have done this to you.” Our barking, cajoling, yelling, manipulation and and abuse have done major damage. Furthermore our attempts to remake others to suit us have actually harmed them.
The teenager Merida had to go through hell to see that the solution to the problem she was having with others lay within her. At the end of the movie, she says:
“Some say fate is beyond our command, but I know better. Our destiny is within us. You just have to be brave enough to see it.”
Merida took the first step in changing herself. She had the courage to look within. Then she confessed her lack. God calls us to do this as well (I John 1:9).
However, we shouldn’t just stay in remorse. We ought to move on to love, compassion and understanding of the other, as Merida and her mother did. Doing this will at least change us.
More than likely, though, continued love of the other will also result in their changing as well. However, even if the other person doesn’t change, we will engage in what Emerson Eggerich calls “The Rewarded Cycle”. Even though the other person doesn’t respond to our love (and we may have to wait a long time), God will reward us for our effort.
If you are like me, you have a tendency to dwell on the results of the curse we are under in this world and our own failures and say “Woe is Me!”. However, the third stanza of a popular New Year carol tells me that this is not God’s desire for us:
“No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.”
Jesus came at Christmas to dispense with the evil portrayed in “Brave”. The curse doesn’t have to be allowed to stay in our homes, our workplaces or other spheres where we have influence. It can be booted.
What is needed is the courage at the New Year to change ourselves by appropriating and spreading His encouragements in our relationships with others.