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Romans 12:2
Encouragement to fulfill God's purpose through Practical Life Application and Navigation

Life Lessons in Finding Dory

Last week I had a blast going with family to see Finding Dory. It was my grandson’s first ‘Big Movie’ and boy did he love it! I don’t know if I had more fun watching Finding Dory or watching Kai. Bright-eyed with squeals of delight, he was over-the-top crazy about the whole experience.  Not only did he have his cousins there with him, but there was popcorn, candy, and even a blue Icee to boot. Life just doesn’t get much better than that when you’re three.


While I thoroughly enjoyed the movie too, I found myself watching it through Kai’s eyes. What was he thinking and feeling? What was going through his smart, sensitive mind?


It wasn’t until afterwards that I really pondered the characters and storyline from an adult perspective. Sure, there’s the obvious issue that Dory struggles with short-term memory loss, and the strong message that we should ‘Rescue, Rehabilitate, and Release’ marine life, but beyond that, there were so many valuable life lessons woven into the vibrant animation.



Life Lessons In Finding Dory


It’s Easy to Feel Lost In A Big, Big WorldDory broke my heart. Far from home and by herself, Dory was ignored and shunned. Even with fish all around, Dory was so very alone. This happens all the time. A bigger crowd doesn’t equate to more connections. You can be in a sea of people and still feel isolated and lonely. Relationships are at the very core of our being. We’re wired for this, and when critical connections are absent from our lives, we can easily crumble. Until Marlin, Dory was swimming around aimlessly with no attachment to anyone or anything except the memory of her parents. Talk about feeling lost in a ‘sea’ of despair. Thank goodness she didn’t give up…


The Impossible Is PossibleDory, memory loss and all, never gave up and never gave in. She was determined to find her parents and nothing was going to stop her – not a mental handicap, not distance, and not even seemingly insurmountable odds. Nothing. Perseverance prevailed! Interestingly, in Finding Nemo, Marlin displayed the same heart and character. He had no intentions of giving up his search to find his son, ever, despite how hopeless the situation seemed. How refreshing. What a display of incredible strength and loyalty to a cause. And speaking of loyalty…


Loyalty is UnderratedWithout trying to sound overly cynical, it seems that in today’s world, loyalty is close to death. In an age when it’s getting easier and cheaper to buy new rather than repair the old, nothing is sacred or safe; not even relationships. If something takes too much effort, it gets tossed. Old models are quickly traded in for new ones.  And sticking it out through thick and thin is a thing of the past. But this wasn’t the case for Dory’s parents. They never gave up, never lost faith, and never stopped loving their little girl. They sacrificed by living ‘alone’ in the ocean, in the one place they thought Dory had a chance of remembering. They were the epitome of devoted. And they did their job as parents…


Parents Have a Responsibility – Throughout the movie, Dory would have memory breakthroughs, often recounting something her parents said or taught her. They spent a great deal of time equipping Dory with the tools she would need to be successful and safe. They cared. They were tireless in their attempt to do what was right by their daughter. Her parents really had no idea if what they were sharing and teaching would ever ‘stick’ or make a positive difference, but that didn’t stop them from trying. In the end, it paid off. In our generation of entitled kids, we fail to recognize that this is often a direct result of lazy or non-participatory parents. Dory’s parents were anything but, and fortunately, until Dory was reunited with them, she ‘adopted’ some family along the way…


Friends Can Be FamilyThis is something we talk about but do we really, deep down, believe it? Undeniably, there is a link that bonds us to family, even family we don’t like or associate with often. It’s just there. And we can have friends that we spend a great deal of time with and feel intimately connected to, but at the end of the day, are they still ‘just friends’? I think Dory, and Marlin, and Nemo would unequivocally say no. And I would agree. They were not ‘just’ friends. Thrown together by a set of bizarre circumstances, these three friends became family. A true family. And loved each other unconditionally…


Unconditional Love Means SomethingOkay folks, Dory can be annoying. I realize with her short-term memory loss, many of her issues aren’t necessarily her fault, but all the same, she would drive me absolutely bonkers! And she does drive Marlin nutz. Often. In spite of her shortcomings, though, Marlin never leaves her, even knowing that Dory wouldn’t remember it if he did. He had a ‘free pass’, but his unconditional affection for Dory wouldn’t allow it. Yes, there were moments of frustration and impatience, but nothing serious enough to compromise their relationship. Marlin chose to love, warts and all. We just need more of that. Lots more. And if wouldn’t hurt to extend an extra measure of grace too…


Grace and Forgiveness Are Necessary  – I’m convinced that grace and forgiveness are at the core of every genuine relationship. Contrary to what some may believe, none of us are perfect. We’re all going to mess up from time to time, say stupid things, and even hurt feelings. If we don’t possess the desire and ability to extend mercy, no one will ever measure up to impossible standards of perfection and we’ll find ourselves with nothing but disposable people in our lives. You know, the ones who ‘it’s ALWAYS their fault’ or ‘they didn’t give you a choice’ type of people. Sure, sometimes that’s the case, but more often than not, the problem is us and our inability to tolerate a human moment. We should never subject ourselves to abuse, of course, but short of that, we would be wise to increase our compassion for those we like and love. Dory, Marlin, Nemo and the rest of the gang would have never ended up with each other if they were critical, judgmental, and unforgiving.



But It’s Just a Movie


But Sherry, it’s just a movie silly. And a cartoon at that.


H-E-L-L-OOOOO! I’m fully aware of this, but I love the incredible takeaways that are ripe for the picking in this sweet film. So many teachable moments and life skills are wrapped into 105 minutes of goodness.


What a great reminder that we can overcome adversity and achieve success. We should be encouraged to seek heart motives rather than excuses to pounce on momentary slip-ups. We must value commitments and loyalty, refusing to quit for the sake of convenience or laziness. We should embrace the opportunity to love and be loved.


This world needs a lot more hope and an infusion of kindness. We need a recharge of what matters most and the inspiration to capture it. An unashamed, unabashed pursuit of meaningful relationships with a genuine spirit of unwavering devotion. We need to care. And give. And stay. And sacrifice.


Sometimes the most extraordinary



I’m praying that though Finding Dory you’ll find some nuggets of truth you’ve lost along the way, or even pick up a few new ones in your journey. Sometimes the most extraordinary messages are found in the most unlikely of places.






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