Written By: Ashley Elliott
Our family spent a lot of time over winter break cuddled on the couch watching movies. One favorite that we revisited was Inside Out – spoiler alerts coming if you haven’t seen it yet, but really, GO watch it if you haven’t!
The movie follows the emotions of an 11-year-old girl named Riley, as her family goes through a big move from Minnesota to California, turning her world upside-down. Chances are you are reading this as a military member or spouse and can already relate to the storyline. The highlighted emotions manifest as the main characters: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. We follow them as they work together (and against each other at times) through Riley’s transition. Conflict arises when “Sadness” starts touching old memories that were once joyful in Riley’s memory bank. Once Sadness gets a hold of the memories, the way Riley feels when recalling that memory is changed forever. For example – the thought of her playing ice hockey together with her parents, once a warm, happy memory, now makes her sad to recall. The happy emotion – cleverly named “Joy,” then tries her best to restore these memories back to a feeling of happiness and tries to prevent Sadness from “ruining” any more of Riley’s memories. A girl trying to fit in and make the best of a new place certainly doesn’t need more sadness creeping in, right?
Have you ever been in a situation feeling sad, and you desperately wanted to change that? Maybe you covered it up, brushed over it, or just flat out ignored the negative emotions popping up. “I’m fine; things are fine.” Sadness can seem like an enemy or a weakness, and who has time for that? Throughout the story in Inside Out, we see parts of Riley’s personality completely crumble because both Sadness and Joy are missing from Riley’s control booth. * I’ll let you watch the movie to find out where they both go.*
The purpose of this post wasn’t just a fun, for-your-entertainment, movie review. But instead to point out to you that all of your emotions matter. The ins and outs that make you, YOU, are made up of complex memories and experiences that involve ALL of your emotions. That includes sadness! Feeling sad is not something to cover up, hide from, or ignore. It is an essential emotion and plays a crucial role in experiencing all of the other emotions in the spectrum too.
Some philosophies of thought follow the belief that emotions are irrational thinking – they disrupt order. But the truth of the matter, as so visually pointed out in this movie, is that emotions are guides. Our memories and feelings shape our moral judgments and affect how we respond to situations around us.
If you have gone through loss, big changes, or something that triggers sadness, consider this…maybe it is setting the stage for you to develop a new facet of your identity. This can go for anger, disgust, and fear too. Rather than try to ignore these feelings, why not bring them to God, with thoughtful prayer, and see what they are prompting? What doors are waiting to be opened up, or new paths are waiting to be forged?
What emotions are you giving to God? What emotions are you opening up with to your spouse? Your friends? Your kids?
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; don’t be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
If you’re constantly trying to push an Instagram-worthy reel of highlights of joy, you’re not shortchanging anyone but yourself. I can’t speak for your kids, your community of close friends, or spouse, but I firmly think our Almighty God wants more than just our joy – He. Wants. It. All. The good, the bad, the ugly, the sad, the confused, etc. – LIFT it up to God. Every single one of our emotions can prompt a response.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Inside Out offers an unusual approach to sadness…to embrace it. Not for the sake of being morbid and passive, but to let it unfold, to engage patiently with what you’re struggling with, and to allow clarity to the situation. Let those close to you know what you’re going through, reach out for help with unchartered waters, and prayerfully open up to your kids. What better role model for dealing with emotions for your kids than you?
My youngest girls aren’t exactly ready for all of those talks, but my eight-year-old has appreciated the times where I have slowed down enough to share with her the emotion(s) that I’m juggling with. We both went through sadness with our move and can relate to moments of frustration and anger. Remind yourself, as mentioned above, that emotions are not weakness. In case you need it, I’m giving you permission to feel “the feels.” My prayer for you is that you don’t feel the need to hide or cover your emotions, especially with God. He knows our hearts and is seeking us. Tend to each of your emotions, ask for patience, ask for clarity, and open up to those around you.
Which emotion is the hardest for you to share with others?
Written By: Ashley Elliott