Since its release in 1994, most of us have seen the Disney Hamlet adaptation, and cinematic masterpiece otherwise known as The Lion King.
Disney has shaped me, like many others, throughout my childhood. But there is undisputedly only one scene which broke my heart first, before all others. I think most of us know which scene I’m referring to: the death of Mufasa. If you cried during this scene, it’s because you’re a human being.
But in re-watching the movie, there were a number of lessons within the movie I hadn’t realized were there. Here are 6 lessons that I learned from The Lion King.
1. You can’t always trust those closest to you.
Watching Scar on-screen honestly makes me cringe. When I was a child, I didn’t pick up on the obvious red flags to not trust Scar, but now as an adult, it’s as obvious as leftover spinach in your teeth. He encourages Simba to keep “a little secret” between themselves, so that what is a game to Simba is an temporary assurance of Scar’s safety from the King. Scar manipulates this relationship to make Simba feel guilty for a crime he did not commit.
While we can hope that we can trust everyone, we can’t. Sometimes the people who hang around you and seem nice are actually just trying to tear you down. This could not only be someone that you don’t like, but it could be someone that you do like – such as someone you consider a friend, a neighbour, or even a family member. I’ve seen this play out in life, and it’s not pretty. Simba trusted Scar because he was his uncle, and Scar manipulated that. Scar even killed his brother, Mufasa.
Be reminded of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. Judas was one of the chosen ones, and yet even he could not be trusted. In Frozen, Anna is betrayed by Hans. Snow White is betrayed by her stepmother. And the list goes on.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t trust people, nor be scared of the world. There are a number of people who you can freely trust. But just be mindful that not everyone is out for your best interest.
2. Sometimes you need time away to figure things out.
After Mufasa died, Simba ran away. And while the length of the time Simba spent away from his pride was not ideal, Simba learned some invaluable lessons in this time.
Timon and Pumbaa taught Simba Hakuna Matata, meaning “no worries”. Sometimes, bad things happen and there’s nothing you can do about it, and so there’s no need to use up all your brain space worrying. Granted, there are times when you need to react (like with Scar taking over the pridelands, hello). But, it is good advice for other situations.
As a Christian, I take Hakuna Matata to not just mean “no worries”, but also “put it in God’s hands”. Someone is mean to you for no reason? Hakuna Matata. Don’t take it personally. You get a bad health diagnosis? Hakuna Matata. God’s looking out for you. You get a bad grade? Hakuna Matata. You still need to put in the effort, such as trying to rectify a broken relationship, taking care of your body, and studying to boost your grades, but God (the true Lion King) can also work things for the better.
Without taking that time away from the pridelands, I’m not confident that Simba would have been able to know when to let things go. It actually made him a better King.
3. The death of a loved one does not mean that they’re gone forever.
The Lion King brings children face-to-face with the death of a parent. Most young children do not have a parent die, but some do, and the result is traumatizing and potentially damaging for the child’s emotional growth.
When Rafiki brings Simba to the pool of water to show where Mufasa is, Simba realizes that his father does still live – in him. Half your DNA is given to you by each parent, and we retain a lot of what we have learned when we were children.
Perhaps I’m a bit biased, since I’m apparently a clone of my mom and grandma. Regardless, we do still share some traits with our parents. Sometimes desirable ones, and sometimes not so desirable ones. Which means that our parents will live on.
4. Be careful of first impressions – you can learn something.
The Lion King teaches us to be careful of first impressions. Just when Simba runs away from Nala after being confronted by his responsibilities, Rafiki finds him. Simba doesn’t recognize the baboon, and so assumes that he’s a stranger. Little does he know that Rafiki had watched over him his whole life.
Because Rafiki sometimes acts a little nutty, Simba didn’t really pay much attention to him. That is, until Rafiki mentioned Mufasa.
God knows how to get your attention. And he will use people to teach you lessons. Rafiki teaches Simba the ultimate lesson, “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.”
Simba realized his first impressions were wrong, and that Rafiki was not a bumbling baboon, but rather a wise creature. Rafiki’s lesson was inspiration needed to turn Simba’s life around and take on his responsibilities at Pride Rock.
“The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.”
5. You need to face your inner demons.
In The Lion King, whenever there was a problem, Simba would run from it. He allowed his guilt to eat him up inside, and avoided his rightful place as King.
Sometimes we run from God and allow our guilt to eat us up inside, and avoid our own rightful place as God’s children.
Satan loves to use guilt to his advantage. He wants to separate you from God, just as Scar wanted to separate Simba from Pride Rock. Satan wants to rule. And he will rule as long as we let our guilt control us.
God never wants our guilt to eat us up inside. He wants us to repent and return to Him. God wants your heart, no matter what stage you’re at. Running from Him just hurts ourselves, and God.
In order to move forward, we must confront Satan’s whispers that we are not “good enough”. We must address the guilt he instills in us. Otherwise we will, like Simba, be on the run for the rest of our lives.
6. Remember who (or whose) you are.
Simba avoided his family for most of his life, and had convinced himself that he would not be a good king. People do this now, when they avoid God throughout their life because they’ve convinced themselves that they’re not “good enough”.
Simba was destined to be king since birth. It’s in his blood. He didn’t have to do anything to be royal; Simba just needed to step into the position.
Similarly, we are God’s children since birth. It’s in our blood. We don’t have to do anything to be loved as God’s children, we just need to love God in return and believe in Jesus’ death for our sins. Remember that you belong to God; you were created by Him for a purpose.
Sometimes I forget this. How could I possibly be from God if I’m not perfect? But I don’t need to be perfect; I just need to fulfill my purpose.
There are many more lessons in The Lion King. What are some that have stuck with you?