Four Steps To Forgiveness I Learned from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Last month I had the incredible opportunity to revisit DreamWorks Animation Studios and attend a prescreening of the upcoming film, How to Train Your Dragon 2, written and directed by the wonderful Dean DeBlois.

In the film there is a recurring theme of moving past pain, and finding the courage to forgive someone you love. Although there are similar ideas of forgiveness in the first film, in How to Train Your Dragon 2 the depth of the ability to forgive is tested when a tragedy threatens to sever bonds once considered unbreakable.

Without spilling any cinematic beans, I wanted to talk about the powerful example of forgiveness demonstrated by Hiccup and Toothless, a dynamic pair that experiences the biggest loss, yet finds a way to heal one another, and repair what was broken.

Forgiveness is a tricky concept for many. It’s widely regarded as the right thing to do; yet finding the space in our hearts to truly forgive someone can sometimes feel insurmountable.

In the film, much like real life, one of our favorite characters experiences a personality shift that leaves the other bewildered. How often have we too experienced a friend or loved one who suddenly behaves differently, causing us to question the validity of our relationship? What causes us to fight for some connections, while we let others flail?

Hiccup and Toothless’s enduring friendship creates a stable space for which the two can not only deal with the pain caused by the unnerving change, but rebuild an even stronger bond. Do you want to master the fine art of forgiveness? Here’s what we can learn from Hiccup and Toothless in How to Train Your Dragon 2:

1.) When one of the two friends experienced a sudden personality shift, the other realized the behavior was abnormal, and worked to figure out the cause. In our own lives, sometimes we forget that people are all dealing with their own burdens and difficulties, and we can be less than empathetic when a friend suddenly seems different. Try to dig beneath the change and see what’s happening to cause your friend to behave differently.

2.) Once the cause of the personality shift was understood, the other worked to fix the problem at its source. Relationships should be easy, but sometimes, they deserve a little effort on our part. If our friends or family are troubled by something outside their ability to conquer, they may need us to go to bat for them.

3.) In the film, the consequences of one friend’s actions deeply impacted the other. Sometimes, when our friends and loved ones are experiencing troubles in their lives, their reactions may inadvertently create problems for us. In How to Train Your Dragon 2, the friend who experienced the impact of the other’s choices initially responded with anger. Ultimately, however, he realized that the true character of his friend and the value of their relationship outweighed the negative, allowing him to find forgiveness. Does this mean that we should allow people we love to hurt us and then forgive them right away? No, it doesn’t. We can take into consideration the value of our friendships, and the nature of the person we love, and allow that to guide our ultimate decision on whether or not we can forgive them.

4.) Love conquers all. I know, it’s the cheesiest line ever, but in How to Train Your Dragon 2, the ultimate salve turns out to be love. It’s easy to hold on to hurt and anger, and to blame someone for the pain they’ve caused. However, the act of forgiveness, combined with the choice to love someone, faults and all, allows us to carry less of a burden in our lives. The ultimate reward is in the reconnection we have with the people who truly matter, and who deserve our forgiveness.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 arrives in theaters Friday, June 13. It’s a great family film, and although the storyline may not be appropriate for very young children, I think it gives viewers of all ages a chance to ask themselves, could I also forgive someone I love if they hurt me?

Come back here once you’ve seen the film and let me know your thoughts. Until then, check out the exciting trailer below.