We Don’t Talk About Conflict

Encanto is a Disney movie unlike any other. Although the story is told through the eyes of Mirabel, the focus isn’t just on her and her desires. The focus is also on family and the ties that hold it together or suffocate it. In today’s culture, people are wondering more and more what value family has. Encanto breaks stereotypes to show both the importance of family and its difficulties. The film shows how fear, conflict, and expectations can ingrain trauma in members of the family. Yet, it shows that forgiveness and reconciliation can heal the deepest wounds.


Since its release, Encanto has received much praise for its sincere story and diverse characters. It centers around the Madrigal family and their miraculous, living home that they call the Encanto. But that isn’t the only thing about their family that is out of the ordinary—everyone who has grown up in the Encanto has a gift that gives them amazing abilities like super strength, shape shifting, and control of the weather. Everyone except Mirabel.

Mirabel is the only one in her family who wasn’t given a magical gift by the miracle that blessed her family. Her Abuela (grandmother), the matriarch of the family, has always impressed upon the family the importance of sharing their miracle with the community by using their gifts to serve others. Because of this, Mirabel has always tried desperately to use her creativity and problem solving skills to serve others. Time and again she is told that it is better if she stays out of the way.

When cracks begin to appear in their home, Abuela insists that “the magic is strong.” But in trying to save face, she ignores the pain her family is experiencing personally. However, the more Mirabel looks into why the cracks are appearing, the more she realizes that they are being caused by the broken relationships in her family. The miracle is breaking because her family is breaking.

Encanto is a story about the hurt in families that often lies hidden beneath the surface but can be healed when confronted in love.The Bible has a lot to say about conflict in family. Given that Christians are part of the biggest family, the family of God, it is vital that we know how to handle conflict in a broken world where sin and hurt are inevitable. God tells us we are to be one with each other and at peace as far as it concerns us (Romans 12:18).

The Tendency to Hurt and be Hurt
As can be seen throughout Encanto, each member of the family has been hurt by the actions of other family members—many by Abuela in particular. Her good intentions to serve the community with their gifts leave many in the family feeling like they are only seen for what they can bring to the table. This idea is reinforced by the way Mirabel is treated by many of her family members. She is told to stay out of the way, to leave those with gifts to help, and to stop causing problems. Despite claims that she is “just as special as everyone else,” it becomes clear that what everyone has said to her has convinced her otherwise.

This is a reflection of what can happen in any family—one person hurts another, intentionally or unintentionally, so the injured person hurts the other person back, and the cycle continues. Often, pride gets in the way of being willing to talk through what has happened. But God calls us to focus on the importance of humility and being willing to listen to one another—to see things from another’s perspective. God says “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). But this can’t be done without God’s love at work in us. In our own power, we are prone to “insist on [our] own way,” but God’s love “is patient and kind; [it] does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude” (1 Corinthians 13:1-5).

Taking this harder path often seems impossible—especially when it feels like a friend or family member has gone too far and caused too much hurt. It becomes easy to believe that communication and connection are impossible because we believe the lie that the other person doesn’t care about what we have to say. God asks us to do something difficult: to both listen and be vulnerable with our loved ones. He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us do this. In this way, God offers healing to all involved.

Always Waiting on a Miracle
One of the most vital parts of conflict resolution is confronting the conflict. When Mirabel seeks a way to save her family’s miracle, she talks with family members who reveal to her that they believe that if they show weakness or break away from their family’s expectations, then they would be failing the family. They are too afraid to say anything about how the expectations placed on them have impacted them emotionally and physically. Not confronting conflict can feel like always waiting on a miracle, as Mirabel puts it. But in conflict, God asks us not to just wait for him to fix it, but to take an active role in the reconciliation with family and others.

Bringing up the negative impact of a friend’s or family member’s actions may be terrifying, but it is a vital step in having the kind of close relationship that God created us to have with our community. Sometimes it can feel like being angry with another person is a sin, but God says, “Be angry and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). Being angry isn’t a sin in and of itself—the sin is what anger often causes us to do. By confronting conflict head-on with the goal of restoring a right relationship, we can avoid inching closer and closer to any number of sins, including hating others in our heart. God encourages us to fight for our family’s unity because he knows that it is worth it.

Jesus said that “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (Matthew 18:15). God knows that many of us would rather ignore the things that cause resentment to grow in our hearts, but that isn’t God’s way of doing things. His approach asks us to go towards conflict and not away—to talk to the one who has sinned against us and tell them that they have caused hurt. God asks us to confront fear and speak the truth instead of waiting for a miracle to make the conflict vanish.

The Real Villain of the Story
When family relationships or friendships become broken, it can feel like the person who caused the hurt is the villain of the story. Since Encanto’s release, social media has started discussing whether or not Abuela is the villain of the story. Despite her redemption at the end, some insist that the way she treated Mirabel and the emotional distress that she caused the other members of her family makes her a villian. This is in line with the cancel culture trend that tells us to cut toxic people from their lives and from culture’s view. The truth is that family conflicts are complicated—while there are times when one side is most definitely the villain, most often neither side is. Dr.James Dobson of Family Talk discusses a conflict with his wife where “neither of us sought to hurt the other person. Our initial anger was not motivated by malice or vindictiveness, but by a sense of having been wronged.” This is the reality of most conflicts. When we turn the other person into the villain, we lose both the truth of the situation and love for the other person.

At the end of the day, God calls us to forgive those who hurt us and to “not let the sun go down on” our anger (Colossians 3:13, Ephesians 4:26). Part of forgiveness includes confronting conflict and setting wise boundaries. Happily, in Disney fashion, when Mirabel finally confronts her Abuela about how her expectations started the cracks in their Encanto, the story ends with the whole family closer together with restored relationships and understanding of one another. Abuela is able to explain that she was so desperate to be worthy of the miracle they were given because she didn’t want to lose it and her family the same way she lost her husband. She asks for their forgiveness for not caring more about the pain that her expectation was causing the family. That is what God wants for families and friendships—the restoration of relationships.

There are still times, however, when restoration doesn’t happen—but God addresses that too (Matthew 18:16-17). He knows people can be hard-hearted towards him as well as one another when they lose sight of what they are fighting about or refuse to take responsibility for their own faults. That is why God tells us to walk by the power of his Spirit and to be in constant communion with him. When we do that, he reveals to us when we are holding desperately to pride the way that Abuela held to her miracle. He softens our hardened hearts and shows us the way to go. God offers healing for wounds that conflict brings so that, through restoration with others, we can be reminded of how he restored us to himself through Jesus.

By Rebecca Sachaj

Sign up here to receive weekly Reflect emails in your inbox!

Rebecca Sachaj

Rebecca Sachaj is enthusiastic about helping fellow believers deepen their relationship with God. After finishing her Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing, she pursued further study in Apologetics through The Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics. She plans to obtain her Masters in Apologetics, focusing on the connection between the Christian Imagination and Apologetics. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her two dogs, Strider and Samwise.