2015 was a hard year. There had been “death in the family” and for some reason, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that I was having difficulty finding my footing in my job, my marriage, my faith – all core aspects of my life. One bright spot, one sure foothold, was that I went on my first Wilderness Trail hike that summer. When all else fails, I can always find my center with a walk in the woods. Wilderness Trail was great! I had an amazing group: Scout, Alan, Sydney, Logan, Jacob, Ashley, Sam, (I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone!). We hiked about 45 miles or so and were absolutely exhausted when we got back to Waynesville – or at least I was.
I arrived back at my house and was so glad to see my wife and I was looking forward to a big lunch and a long nap. But then, my wife told me that we had plans to go to the movies that afternoon with some friends. Everyone was really excited to see the new Disney Pixar film, Inside Out – a movie I knew almost nothing about before walking into the movie theater.
Fans of Pixar’s films will understand that they do not simply make children’s films (neither does Disney in my opinion). Pixar is very clearly committed to making films that are just as satisfying for adults as they are for the young’uns. And, they do a great job. Toy Story, Cars, Up, Finding Nemo, Wall-E – they are all enjoyable movies for child and parent alike. Inside Out is, in my opinion, their greatest triumph yet in this regards. It is an incredibly poignant story about growing up told from both the external perspective of narration and action that we are used to, and from the perspective of personified emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, Anger. Each emotion is given a voice, a name, a face. When the child’s family moves from Minnesota to California, and she is forced to make new friends and adapt to a strange new world, this movie not only portrays the external drama of moving across the country, but also the internal struggle of emotions to make sense of a change.
And so, this is the movie that I went to see in a state of exhaustion during a difficult time in my life. Somehow, being tired allows for those repressed emotions (and I’m convinced we all have some) to bubble up to the surface. Well, it was more like a tidal wave for me that afternoon. By the end of the film, I was a bit of overcooked noodle – such is the experience of long needed emotional release! I know this is going to sound strange, but I found a great deal of healing that day at the movie theater. Healing that I had not found on the trail that week. Healing that I had not found at church that year. Emotional healing. As I watched Inside Out, I myself was turned inside out, and it felt so good.
Over the next few weeks, Pastor Keith is going to do something that we need to do more of in church and theology, we are going to examine the role that these five primary emotions play in everything that we do as individuals and a church. I am fully convinced that Christ knew these emotions well and was not one to keep them hidden. If we are to be like Christ, we too must learn to speak the language of emotions with honesty and articulation. We must allow ourselves to be turned inside out for this world.