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?
Thank you Judy. I have definitely been more sad than happy these days. Watching your spouse suffer is something impossible to explain. Happiness isn’t even on the radar screen right now. However, I have experienced the kind of joy you so wonderfully described in the small things and fleeting moments filled with hope.
Lu, That’s beautiful. I pray that you and Al will be filled with more Hope and extra Joy during these difficult days. Judy
I took my thirteen-year-old sons, and what tender hearts and insightful conversation… Thank you for the reminder, as His joy is present, even in these seasons of sadness.
Great post! I’ve been wanting to see Inside Out and take my daughters (12 and 7). This post gave me some ideas on how to start a conversation afterward about the deeper things of our Christian walk. Thank you!
You’re quite welcome:). Enjoy the movie, and let me know what you think. Thanks Laura!
Joy is that inner strength, which we can reach down and touch in the worst of situations, knowing the King is still on His throne and we are still His sons and daughters. Happiness is seeing the San Francisco Giants win the World Series in 2014 and realizing I used to be a Chicago Cubs’ fan before I switched. You see, it’s more fun to win now than to continually place your hopes on the following year.
I am still a Chicago Cubs fan. Sigh. My husband is a White Sox fan – we have a mixed marriage – and they aren’t doing to well this year either. I have long ago learned not to invest too much in baseball! I love your description of Joy. Thanks Larry!
Thank you, Judy, for expressing so clearly what it means to have joy in the Lord. It transcends our circumstances and worldly concerns. You never fail to inspire me!
Thank you Merilee. I hope you are having a wonderful summer!