The Healing Power of God Through Animated Movie Music

meaningful music from cartoons

As a young mother of two little girls, we watch a lot of animated shows and movies. Even before I had children, I was an avid Disney fan. I could sing almost every song in the Disney songbook from heart. If I didn’t have children, I probably would be watching just as many of these family-friendly films. Just not as feverishly. Animated movies typically attract great songwriters and composers. So it’s easy to get the songs stuck in your head, even when you’re not obeying the demands of your oh-so-cute 3 year-old to watch the same movie on a daily basis over the course of two weeks.

Songs Stuck in My Head

I can remember sitting in the Adoration chapel of our church two years ago. I was trying to listen to the ways God was calling me to grow during that Lenten season. The silence was broken with the tinkling of notes from someone practicing on a piano in the church. The song they were playing? “Let It Go” from Disney’s popular film Frozen. It also happened to be my older daughter’s favorite movie at the time. I chuckled to myself.

Even when I was away from my daughter, I couldn’t escape that soundtrack.

Letting it Go

The quiet of Adoration helps me zero in on my heart’s listening skills. So I knew that the soft playing of “Let It Go” was God’s way of telling me to pay attention and to hear His voice through the lyrics of that song.

There were many lines I could relate to, especially, “Conceal, don’t feel.” How accurately do those words describe the way our society talks about depression and anxiety, something that I was struggling with at the time?

God was telling me through this kids’ song (that I had heard thousands of times before) that I was bottling up my feelings. It felt much like the main character Elsa’s “swirling storm inside”.

Further Scripture reflection in front of the Blessed Sacrament that tied in with these lyrics helped me realize that I needed to seek help to recover from those past hurts in order to move on and “let it go.” I started seeing a counselor soon after.

Music Heals

There have been other times when I’ve watched an animated show or movie with my daughter only to break down crying. Whether it was Moana singing, “I am everything I’ve learned and more, still it calls me,” or a Sofia the First episode where Mulan sings to Sofia, “You’re stronger than you know,” something would stir deep inside of me. I felt like God was trying to speak to me, to let me know that He was aware of my suffering. God can speak even through the songs that were becoming the soundtrack of my life as a mother.

These words, written melodically to advance the plot of my daughter’s favorite films, were like God serenading me. More often than not, I could relate the lyrics from the music to the Gospels or verses from Scripture that I was reading. When I have a song stuck in my head, even if it’s not from a kids’ movie, I make it a point to look up the lyrics if I don’t already know them. I reflect on them just in case it’s God singing into my ear. Sometimes I’m moved to tears, and other times I laugh at God’s sense of humor.

Time to Be Awesome

Recently, I had a song from My Little Pony: The Movie stuck in my head. One could argue that it was only because I’ve seen it about ten times in less than a week. But after looking up the lyrics, I knew it was God singing to me to help lift my spirits with each beat. The name of the song? “Time to Be Awesome.”

This song spoke to my struggling with balancing motherhood while also pursuing personal hopes and dreams. In the movie, a spunky little pony named Rainbow Dash tries to encourage a group of pirates to get their mojo back through song. Some of my favorite lyrics are: “But there’s a light, shining deep inside beneath those fears and doubts so just squash ‘em. And let it shine for all the world to see that it is time, yeah, time to be awesome.”

Is God letting me know that it’s time to be awesome? Most definitely. My Scripture reflections back up this silly but encouraging song. Psalm 139:14, which I had been reading earlier, confirm, “I am wonderfully made.” Paul writes in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious about nothing,” and later in verses 11-13, “…in whatever state I am, it is sufficient… Everything is possible in him who has strengthened me.” When I’m too busy being plagued by fears and doubts, God is telling me to “squash ‘em” and remember that He is the “light, shining deep inside.” If that’s not awesome, I’m not sure what is.

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Amy Heyse is an artist and mother who lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her graphic design husband. You can often find her trying to squeeze in time for personal art making between motherhood and working as an art instructor at a local paint-and-sip studio. You can find out more about her here.

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