The driving force in “Brave” is Merida’s desire to change what is happening to her. First, to change the role she has been placed in as a princess. Second, to change being forced into an unwanted marriage. Finally, to change her mother back into a person so she is not trapped as a bear forever. She is a very busy princess. It is no wonder she has no time for singing, dancing, or being romanced by a prince.
The advice she is given by the woodcarving witch, tells her that in order to break the spell on her mother, she must “Mend the bond/torn by pride”. She determines that is a reference to the tapestry that she tore during her temper tantrum earlier in the film. Adventure ensues as they must sneak back into castle to get it. The whole time this is unfolding, all I can think was, “That’s not what she meant.” The bond she was talking about was the relationship between mother and daughter. Merida needed to mend that bond in order to break the spell and that is much harder than sewing together a tapestry.
The deeper message of “Brave” is not really about changing our fate. It is about being brave enough to accept responsibility for our own mistakes, forgive others for theirs and change ourselves accordingly. This is so much harder. It is so much easier to decide who is right and who is wrong. We dig into our own self-righteousness and cast the people who disagree with us as villains. When we don’t apologize and forgive bonds get broken, sometimes irrevocably.
Church history is full of these dramas. Some are huge and world-changing like the Great Schism or the Reformation. Some revolve around justice issues like racism and sexism. Some are great theological debates that are studied and dissected by future generations. Some are frankly stupid and petty. There are two Southern Baptist churches in my very small hometown because of an argument over getting a new organ. A friend of mine lost half of his church members to another church over a disagreement about the color of new carpet. There are many, many more stories equally as petty and as I hear them I have to wonder why no one thought at any point that they had gone too far.
The church should disagree. We should challenge the status quo. We should challenge each other. We should challenge choices and decisions that we make as the Church. However, we should not break the bond. We are called to love each other not to think exactly the same thoughts about every issue before us. When we confuse those two things, love and agreement, we lash out, break bonds, and change fate in ways that we perhaps shouldn’t. It is hard to love someone who we think is wrong. It is even harder to love someone who thinks we are wrong. We are called to do it anyway. To reach out, mend the bond broken by pride, and rebuild relationship. It is easier to just move on and leave the broken relationship behind, but we are called to make a different choice. We are called to be brave.
Did you enjoy Merida’s journey? Tell me here: