Do you resist feeling sad? When you’re feeling a little blue, do you feel sad about being sad? Sometimes feeling sad is the only way to feel. When facing the loss of a loved one or serious personal upheaval it is impossible to resist feeling sad. Other times, for mysterious reasons, we’re just a little down in the dumps.
My husband and I saw the movie Inside Out a few weeks ago, and while not quite as strong as the Toy Story trio or Up it is another Pixar pick. The movie attempts to go inside the mind of an 11-year-old girl, Riley, and gives characters to her emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust. Joy and Sadness are at the center of the film.
Riley is going through some serious personal upheaval, and Joy doesn’t want Sadness to touch any of Riley’s emotions. Refusing to see the difficult reality, she thinks that cheerful positive thinking will save the day. It always has. She just has to keep Sadness from contaminating Riley’s feelings. Sadness doesn’t want to make Riley sad, but she can’t help touching her heartstrings.
The movie does an excellent job of reminding us that sadness plays an important role in our lives. In fact, to ignore it is dangerous. Avoiding sadness keeps us from facing disappointments, coming to terms with them and being able to move on.
Joy didn’t understand that. Joy attempted to still Sadness.
Can anyone else relate to that? I have been known to put pressure on myself to feel joyful. Always. I can feel sad simply because I am feeling sad. (I know – crazy.) Why? I am a Christian, and I know that joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and that I can experience and demonstrate joy no matter what.
So, how does that work when I am feeling sad?
Here’s where the movie got it wrong. Joy is incorrectly named; she should be called Happiness.
Biblical joy is not the same as human happiness.
The Bible teaches that Christians can always be joyful. It’s true, even in unhappy circumstances. The Apostle Paul wrote the “joy book,” Philippians, while he was in prison. I doubt he was terribly happy, but he could still proclaim joy.
I have a handwritten note right at the beginning of Philippians in my Bible that says, “Joy – knowing God is working through me.” That definition of joy can be true no matter what is going on in my life. I know that kind of joy when I am happy, and when I am sad.
Sadness and happiness are both natural emotions. Joy is a supernatural confidence in God.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7
Have you experienced joy in unhappy circumstances? What did you think of Inside Out?