Not too long ago, my family purchased the Dreamworks movie, “Trolls.” It quickly became a hit with our oldest, who immediately began acting as the lead hero before the end of the first viewing. The obsession with that movie meant daily viewings – at least, until our family purchased “Moana.”
Without spoilers, the general premise of the new Trolls is this: the Bergen are ogre- looking, listless creatures determined to believe the only thing which will make them happy is to eat a troll. The trolls, as the persecuted victims of the movie, find the positivity in life through their belief in music, spending their days in song, and stopping hourly for a well-timed hug. Events conspire to allow the trolls to bring happiness to all – themselves, and the Bergen! The two main characters are Branch (voiced by Justin Timberlake) and Poppy (voiced by Anna Kendrick).
I am not one to usually find the moral meaning, which can sometimes be overtly obvious to everyone else… for example, I didn’t get the religious tones of The Shack until after I read a review long after my initial reading of the story. And yet, as I sat and watched Trolls for the umpteenth-hundredth time, I stopped short. I realized I was reading far deeper into Trolls than I would wager even the writers ever imagined…
That night, watching the Bergen mope around their town, I realized they represent our lives… they are our lives without God. In Matthew Kelly’s recent book, Resisting Happiness, the author asserts on page 11:
“Nothing on earth can satisfy your desire for happiness.
The reason is very simple: you have a God-size hole. You cannot fill it with things, money, status, power, sex, drugs, alcohol, other people, experiences, or accomplishments. Only God can fill the hole…”
At least the Bergen knew nothing would make them happy… save eating a troll. And, even eating the troll would result in momentary happiness. Instead of searching for happiness in other avenues, the Bergen wandered around aimlessly, doing chores and caring for each other. Yet, their song was dull, and the rote manner in which they attended their tasks, and each other, lacked in enthusiasm.
The trolls, on the other hand, have a vivacious demeanor. Most of them are able to find the silver lining in their darkest hour. They are energetic, and radiate warmth, kindness, and love. They go about their tasks with a skip in their step, and when hard times befall them, they turn to each other and pull each other up. Quite simply, they maintain hope.
This is strikingly similar to living a life with God. For, as Jesus instructs in Matthew 19:26:
For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible.
Struggle as we might in this life, living a life with God in our sights allows us to maintain hope that we are not alone, that we will come out the other side intact, and that our suffering in this life is not in vain. As difficult as it may be, living a life with God allows us to find a silver lining in our experiences.
So, where is God in this movie?!
He was where He always is – He was everywhere. Unseen, but heard…
God is the music in this movie.
Never forcing Himself on us, He still tugs gently at our souls, inviting us into a relationship with Him. And, those moments we accept that invitation, as we see with the Bergen king and his love interest, we are given an insight into the splendor of His love for us!
God is in our actions – the way we conduct ourselves, and the way we look out for others. He’s in those moments we try to push Him away, the way we see the character of Branch doing in the movie. He’s willing to lie dormant under the surface, until we have time to process through our pain and hurt. He’s in the moments we recognize the pain and hurt in others, and when we encourage them to allow us to journey with them through their pain.
God is infused in our lives, waiting eagerly for us to recognize Him and invite Him to be active in our lives.
The question only becomes,
Will we accept Him and His presence, the way the trolls do?
Or, will we overlook His offer, and toss His gift of love aside?
The choice is up to us.
AnnAliese is a proud Army wife to her husband Chris and mother to their two young children. She has a BA in History, a Masters in Social Work, and has worked with disabled veterans, troubled teens, and in early childhood intervention therapy. Since the birth of her children, she has dedicated her time to volunteering with Army Community Services and several military chapel communities. As a cradle-Catholic, AnnAliese has been active in the Church since she was a child. As an adult, she has spent time serving as a lector, EMHC, Adoration coordinator, and Catholic Women of the Chapel (CWOC) chapter president and vice president. She also blogs about topics of Catholicism, parenting, and military life at A Beautiful, Camouflaged Mess of A Life. You can also follow her on Twitter @BeautifulCamoMe, on Instagram at beautifulcamouflagedmess, or on Facebook at A Beautiful, Camouflaged Mess of A Life.