How the Hakuna Matata Generation Totally Misread ‘The Lion King’

Hakuna Matata,
What a wonderful phrase,
Hakuna Matata,
Ain’t no passing craze,

It means no worries, for the rest of your days!

…Right?

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Bear with me here. Because I’m about to take your childhood and point out a blemish in it that you won’t be able to unsee.

The Lion King is my #1 favorite film of all time. I have Rafiki’s painting of Simba tattooed on my foot. I know the entire script by heart. Yes, I’m completely, unashamedly in love with a children’s animated film. I think there are worse things to be a fan of. So, I’ve sat quietly with a realization, assuming I must either be crazy or wrong. But I can sit quietly no longer.

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You guys, Hakuna Matata is not what The Lion King is about.

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Take a deep breath. In. And out.

I know what you’re doing. You’re thinking about that neon orange and turquoise Hakuna Matata poster hanging in your room when you were a kid. You glance over at the vintage style Hakuna Matata tank top hanging in your closet that you wear when you’re feeling particularly playful. And you remember back to when you had a Hakuna Matata icon on your Myspace page back in 2006 and you thought you were so cool.

But here’s the thing. If you think the real message of Simba’s bildungsroman tale is to learn to let all of his worries go and live a life free of responsibility, you are wrong.

Let’s flesh this out, cause I can feel your rage building.

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Spoiler alert: Simba’s dad dies.

I actually fast forward through this scene because it gets harder every time I watch it. Parenthood has ruined me. Simba is so young and naïve he doesn’t understand Mufasa is really gone. Tears galore. Anyway, in walks Uncle Scar and he’s all, “Simba, what have you done?” “If it weren’t for you he’d still be alive.” Real traumatizing stuff. Simba asks what he should do at this point, and Scar tells him to run away.

Here’s the first lesson Simba learns in response to crisis: Run away. Run away from the issue, run away from your responsibilities, run away from your fears and your grief.

So out of the Pride Lands he runs. Little lion cub doesn’t know how to cope with losing everything he’s ever known. In charges a comic relief duo Timon & Pumbaa, who can sense his depression.

“Look kid, bad things happen. And you can’t do anything about it, right?”
“Right.”
“WRONG. When the world turns its back on you, you turn your back on the world.”
“Well that’s not what I was taught…”

This is important. Simba knows he was raised better than these hippies.

“Then maybe you need a new lesson. Repeat after me. Ahem. HAKUNA MATATA.”

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It means no worries for the rest of your days.
It’s our problem-free philosophy.
These two words’ll solve all your problems!

Here’s the second lesson Simba learns about dealing with grief: let it go. Turn your back on your problems and your past, and just let it go. While this philosophy may have helped him to get over that initial pain of losing his father, this isn’t a healthy long-term solution.

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So then we get a super fun growing-up montage, watching Simba grow from cub to awkward teen and full-maned young adult, shedding away the endearing Jonathan Taylor Thomas character and embracing a whole new Matthew Broderick persona. He has gone full Hakuna Matata – eating paleo, growing out the beard, swinging on vines without a worry in the world. Man, that looks fun! What a cool, hip, carefree lifestyle!

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BUT WAIT. Timon and Pumbaa crack up when Simba recalls a tender memory from his childhood, about how the stars in the sky are the great kings of the past. He brushes it off, no worries, right? But it does bother him. He awkwardly walks off and we know his past is still haunting him. As much as he’s tried to embrace this carefree lifestyle, he knows this isn’t who he is. Clearly those two words haven’t solved all his problems.

Nala. Romance. Hammocks. Arguing. Squash Banana. Jungle running.

Cloud Dad!

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This is the most important scene of the movie. Gets me every time. Here’s what Cloudfasa’s got to say to his son from the stars:

Simba. You have forgotten me. You have forgotten who you are, and so, forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life. Remember who you are. You are my son, and the one true King. Remember who you are.

If there’s a theme in the movie, it’s in James Earl Jones’ immortal voice. Don’t walk away from your past. You have responsibilities to your family, to your home, to who you really are. You have to stop running, and get back to real life. NOT HAKUNA MATATA.

“Ah yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it!”

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So what does Simba do? He runs back to the Pride lands. He goes home, defeats Scar, climbs Pride Rock (fun fact: I walked down the aisle at my wedding to the music that plays here) and takes his place as King. He shed away his hippie years, and embraced maturity and the true message of the film: Remember who you are.

As much as I have wanted to buy Lion King merchandise, I can’t bring myself to if it has Hakuna Matata written on it. It’s just not what the movie is about. It’s a song in the movie. It’s a side track in the main story line. In fact, its a speed bump that holds the protagonist back from solving his problems and defeating his crazy uncle. It’s a broken philosophy that is practically an enemy in itself.

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I apologize if you feel that your past has been shattered. You can sing the song. I’ll still join you. But this is a point that needed to be made. Disney, please don’t get mad at me.

If anything, I hope this made you want to take 1 hour and 29 minutes out of your day to watch the movie for yourself in this new light. I promise it will actually make you love it more, if that is even possible.

Now, I was determined to keep this post pure escapism and not add any political undertones. But here’s the thing guys, America is going through a similar adolescent grief to Simba right now. We’re confused, misguided, losing sight of who we really are. Some of us want to run away from it, some of us want to ignore the problem. But the right thing to do is continue fighting, and remember what we really believe in. Don’t get dragged down into the negativity. Don’t let yourself become ignorant to reality. You have a kingdom to protect.

Remember to look at the stars. And always, always, remember who you are.
(a baboon … and I’m not)

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When You Hate Where You Live

So here’s the thing. When my husband found out which plane he would be working with in the Air Force, there were a handful of bases we could have been stationed to. Some decent, some close to home, some meh. Nebraska was the bottom of our list. It was our last choice. And that’s where we’ve been planted.

Maybe it’s because I grew to really love the South. Maybe it’s because my family is there. Maybe it’s because I fell in love there, started my adult life there, became me there. But here just just not home to me.

I don’t like the weather, or the layout of the city, or the people. I don’t like that it’s not trendy, it’s not fun, it’s different. For goodness’ sake, we don’t have a Moe’s here…

And I could sit here for days… months… years… and continue to complain about where we’ve been stationed because I’ve decided it isn’t my home.

But that’s not what God wants from me.

He wants me to grow where I’m planted. Even if I don’t want to.

Maybe, especially if I don’t want to.

So this is my new prayer.

God I don’t like where I live. I don’t like where you have placed me. I don’t want to grow where I am planted. I confess all of these things. But my prayer is that you change my heart to love this place. My prayer is that you will make this place beautiful for me and be a place where I want to have my family. God, make this place where I want to live, make me never want to leave. Help me grow, give me water and sun, give me the nutrients and determination it takes to grow, flourish and thrive here in Omaha. Amen.


“If This Text Goes Through, I Love You” & Other Hard Things to Hear

Today I’ve been weak. It’s been the definition of “one of those days.” I’ve had ups, downs, side blinders and zig zaggies. Things that have probably bothered me for months have finally caught up to me, and I was ill prepared for their inevitable collision.

This afternoon I spent several hours at my in-laws’ house wiping up dog vomit from my weak stomached Goldendoodle and scrubbing the walls free of my brindle lab’s blood splatters from a tail wound she won’t let heal. They’re both exhausted and anxious, tired of staying in a home that isn’t theirs and missing their daddy something fierce. I want to get them home so badly, staying in Knoxville during this deployment has been so hard on them. They need their routine, their yard, their life back.

While I’m deep in that elbow grease, I receive a text from my husband that they have had a power outage on his base and the wifi isn’t working well. We played phone tag for hours and then he texted me a text I hope no one ever has to receive from someone they love and miss: “Still not working. Phone’s going to die. If this goes through, I love you.”

In a moment when I needed to speak to my companion more than anything, I couldn’t. And it feels wrong. I collapsed onto the couch, my dogs laid each of their heads in my lap, and the impulse to cry hit me like a train… But no tears came. I couldn’t cry. Is it being a mom now, I have acquired this need to stay strong despite all things colliding at once? Some kind of strange strength that is tapped into when you have a child, to protect them and yourself from unnecessary emotional interruption? I don’t know. 

Sitting there, I just pet my babies and breathed in and out. The moment I felt like I got a handle of the moment, I received a second text from my mother, saying my daughter was awake from her nap and crying and I needed to come and nurse her. Responsibility is following me everywhere I go, I can’t escape it. I want to find some closet somewhere and just sit alone in the darkness, imagining myself void of all responsibilities and tasks. Just breathe and be. Just for a minute.

Because today just took me. I got lost in it. It’s not the hardest day I’ve ever had, by any means. But I’m stressing. I miss my husband. I miss his help. I miss his positivity and light. I miss being able to vent all these things to him. Because even though I do get to talk to him sometimes, there’s always a chance the wifi will go out, or he’ll get called off to work on something, or they’ll shift his flight hours and we won’t get to talk that day. 

We have less than two weeks left of this, and I can’t help but feel disappointed in myself for not keeping it together. I was so determined to stay “OK” while he was gone. Because logic tells me that I have to learn to be fine even if he’s not here, because reality is, he won’t be here all the time in the future. I have to learn to cope and thrive, regardless of whether he’s here to help me or not. But I’m not okay, I’m not thriving. I’m mad. I’m bitter. I’m lonely. I’m failing, in my eyes.

Saying all this, I know I need to give myself grace for today, and all my hard days. But for today, while I’m still feeling this, I have to acknowledge this feeling for what it is in this moment. It sucks. I don’t ever want to get a text like that from my husband ever again.

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Havent posted in a while cause things have started to settle and nothing much to report. But, journaling is healthy. 

Baby kicks. So hard. Wakes me up sometimes. This week she’s practicing her flips and tumbles. One second I’ll feel her kicks on one side of my stomach, and the next second she’s totally upside down kicking me on another side of my tummy. Crazy crazy kid in there. Future gymnast for sure.

Really hoping my belly gets more round and big for our maternity photos and baby shower later this month back in Knoxville. I ordered a couple cheap maternity dresses online and I want them to look like they fit correctly. My tummy is kind of lumpy/weird right now. I had a belly fat roll before pregnancy that I think is making the stretching process a little weird. Oddly thankful for it though, because it’s keeping me from developing an outie belly button, which I think are totally gross.

So yes, we have another trip to Knoxville planned. Originally just to do photography for a friend’s wedding, Drew was going to be deployed at this time but it got moved to March YAY, but now we’re making it a joint babymoon/wedding/friend’s graduation/baby shower/last visit for a very very long time. Going to spend a couple nights in Asheville, NC at our honeymoon hotel for a short babymoon getaway. Cannot wait. 

So weird to think that this time last year I was busy packing and preparing for our move out here. I had no idea what to expect, my life was going to get a complete makeover. It’s been a really full year. Stressing over training my dog to a new yard, learning to navigate a new city, being 900 miles from home, how was I to know that just one year later I would be 5 months pregnant with our first daughter?

I really miss home. But I know by now it would be driving me crazy if we’d never left. If it weren’t for my husband’s sacrifices we wouldn’t have a house, two wonderful dogs, job security, a decent income, and a future to feel safe about. I guess I sacrificed some comforts for this too. But it doesn’t seem like a sacrifice when you’re doing it for someone you love.

Like my changing body. I don’t really grumble about these stretch marks, or aches and pains. The fact that my body will never look or feel the same after this pregnancy isn’t really a problem for me. Because I’m doing it for her. Labor? Yeah that will suck. But I’m not mad. I don’t resent her, or our decision to be parents just because it’s going to physically hurt. Because it’s for her. And it’s all to bring glory to her Creator, who is insanely awesome.

I wanna take baby T to the Smokey Mountains when we’re in Knoxville. She’s not born, I know. But there’s a spiritual connection I have there that she’s gotta feel. The waters will be warm and the air won’t be too stifling or humid. I have this spot I want to take her that’s a small secluded waterfall off a pretty common trail that isn’t too well known. And just sit there and breathe and pray. And see if God has anything new to tell me about her. 

We haven’t named her yet, and we probably won’t anytime soon. We have a few names on the table, but no certain feelings about any of them. I’m comfortable with that. Her name just isn’t important right now.

It’s weird once you get past the excitement of learning the gender, how things just start to settle and stagnate. Her little movements are so common to me now, I’m not squealing and grabbing my husband’s hand to feel every little nudge. I’ve gotten about as far on the nursery as we can right now – we have a crib and a changing table dresser, repainted with new knobs, and most of her clothes and things we’ve picked up are organized. I have a couple projects to work on, but for the most part I have to keep reminding myself that there’s no rush. I’m barely over halfway there. We have so much time to paint and decorate and plan. And that’s a little overwhelming. I feel her, I know it’s a her, and I can’t fathom having to wait another four months to meet her now that it’s taken this long. My future pregnancies probably won’t feel this slow, but this is like glacier-slow. I need more hobbies.

Wow tangents on tangents on tangents. What a weird post, Molls. Way to just stick to your insane pregnancy brain stream of consciousness. You know actually, this post is a pretty accurate depiction of where my brain is at these days. Kind of all over the place, but in a settled kind of way.

So now to close, I’m going to sit here and think of all the things I would want to eat right now. Enjoy.

Oreo mint milkshake. Five Guys cheese burger. Lomein noodles. McDonald’s fries dipped in a Wendy’s frosty. Banana bread. Corn on the cob. Cookie dough cheesecake. Eggrolls. Super crunch sushi roll from Surin in Knoxville. Watermelon slushie. Caesar salad from Newk’s. Biscuits and honey. 

Ok… I’m starving now.

This Imperfect Christian’s Perspective

Today the Supreme Court of the United States of America held that the 14th amendment requires states to license same-sex marriage and recognize those marriages entered into in other states. It’s not a novel concept in our time, but it will be an historic day in American history. Time to print a new edition of textbooks.

While loose interpretation of the U.S. Constitution really grinds my gears, I have to applaud the SC for finally pushing this through. Nearly every day for my perceivable adult life thus far, I have been so irritated and frankly embarrassed that same sex marriage is still politically debated in 2015. The fact that it is a debate point for the 2016 election is beyond embarrassing though, it’s just sad. The American people have been so beyond this issue for so long already. It’s sad that our representatives in government have yet to catch up.

Let me preface – I am an Evangelical Christian. I am imperfect. I do not presume to say that I know all the answers or even that my opinions are correctly aligned with what my faith’s leadership would mandate. I form my opinions from my life experience, which includes my personal experiences with God and His word. 

That being said, I have always been supportive of legalizing same-sex marriage. I recognize that same-sex relations were not God’s intention, and this phenomenon is a result of a fallen world. Don’t cringe when I say it, but it’s a sin to act on homosexual desires. Now, it is EQUALLY sinful to act on feelings of envy, lust, and hate (no matter what your sexual orientation is). In essence, a sin is a sin is a sin. 

The bible does not tell me to hold others to a standard of God’s original intention for His creation. I am not called to judge. Even personally, God did not create me to politically withhold liberties from other sinners. Here’s where I reach a catch sometimes though – if I were to be a law-enforcer, with my beliefs of equal sin, should it not be equally righteous for me to prevent murderers from killing as it would be for me to prevent homosexuals from acting on their desires? That’s a rough argument for me, and I can’t say that I know how to get past it just yet.

But here is what I do know. I am called to love my neighbor. I am called to be accepting, and show grace to sinners, as I am one – equally guilty as anyone else. My sin and those of a homosexual are equal to God. But here’s the thing: the cross happened. Christ happened. Heterosexuals and homosexuals alike, he carried the sins of all mankind when he was crucified. I keep seeing the hashtag #LoveWon all over the place. But #LoveAlreadyWon. Jesus’ perfect sacrifice paid the fine of all our sins. Therefore we are free to love one another and enjoy a life of liberty, covered by the grace of his perfect love.

What does it say about me if I am to tell a homosexual couple that because their desire is sinful, they don’t deserve God’s grace, forgiveness, love, and blessing of a holy marriage? When I got married, was I not a sinner as well, as I still am today? Does that mean I didn’t deserve to enjoy the legal bond of marriage? I may offend my fellow Christian community by feeling this way, but I say No. I choose love. I choose acceptance. Even if only just for my absolute disgust and fatigue with the argument as a whole. 

We are beyond this. Christians should not fear this decision, nor should the Christian community choose now to victimize itself in light of being fundamentally refuted. The worst thing a Christian could do in this time is be a sore loser. Embrace this change. Personally, my prayer is that in these same-sex marriages, God would reveal himself and his design to these individuals, and His love would fill their legal covenants. 

I get the Christian “turmoil” as it were. As Christians, we know what’s coming. Times they are a-changing. The bible warns of a time when sin will consume us: “sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Colossians 3:5–6). Along with that, it warns that these sinful acts will be idolized, celebrated, institutionalized. Herein lies the fear of the Christian community – that with the legalization of the institution of same-sex marriage, we are falling into dark times, and therefore should be mourning this decision.

… am I missing something? What about the cross? What about our hope for the future? What about our evangelical duty? Are you telling me that because the “world” is falling into this period of prophetized sin & turmoil, we are supposed to just sit back and bitch about it and lose faith that God will continue to save the sinner? 

Guys, I get it. What God mourns, we should also. But we have a job to do, and God isn’t in the business of giving-up. Me neither. My job is love. My mission is to accept changes as they happen, respect my leaders, trust God’s will ALWAYS, and love like there’s no tomorrow. 

Differences aside, we’re going to get through this. Idiot radicals aside, progressive change will come. And sin of the world aside, God loves abundantly. I’m talkin in ways no political faction, Christian leader or gay average Joe could possibly fathom. We don’t know the plan, we don’t know what’s to come. But as a very intelligent burly half-giant wizard once said, 

“What’s comin will come, an’ we’ll meet it when it does.” 

-Rubeus Hagrid

Adult musings

just a short post to acknowledge that I’ve come to the point where I no longer can tolerate self-serving people in my life.

I had a roommate once who was one of those very bubbly personality types. She was a self-declared “people-pleaser” and that never seemed to sit right with me. She was always very sensitive, but to the point where she made you feel like everything you did was hurting her or making her feel bad. It made me realize those people who compulsively say “I’m sorry” are actually really manipulative. They’re basically making you feel like you put them in the place where they feel the need to “apologize” even if it’s not really an apology, more a victimized compulsive utterance. So living with her and having a bad break from her friendship made me realize what a waste of time it was to cultivate a relationship with a person who ended up blabbing all my private life to anyone who would listen thereafter. Anything for attention.

I don’t have time for self-serving people in my life. I can’t waste time investing into a relationship when the other person is constantly going to pursue being a victim of me. And more on a two-dimensional personality trait level, people who don’t authentically care for other people are a waste of your time. They’re not going to build you up. They’re not going to have your back when it’s hardest for them to do so. That’s who you need to invest in – the person who would be there for you at an expense to themselves. 

If only family were always able to be selfless to each other. This is the exception to the rule. Because the thing is, no matter how selfish they are or how much you disagree, you’re still going to be related tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. I feel like a lot of people don’t grasp that – you can’t un-family somebody. Grudges between family members piss me off so much. It reminds me of my favorite quote about forgiveness:

“Refusing to forgive someone is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

So that leads me to just a general public service announcement: you don’t need 100 friends. In truth, you don’t need 10 friends, if 9 of them are self-serving victimized jerks. Cutting these people out of your life is like pruning away the dead branches so new life can flourish. It will make those people who are worth having around glow even brighter.