When I saw Pixar’s new film Inside Out last month, I was struck by the studio’s ability to intertwine story-lines that are entertaining to kids with deeper, often profound undertones that their older viewers can appreciate. Inside Out did this well, as it told the story of the emotions inside the head of an 11-year-old girl named Riley. One of the best examples of this comes when Riley and her parents are having a discussion around the dinner table and the scene moves back and forth between the anthropomorphized emotions of Mom, Dad, and Riley. It was priceless, and went right over the head of my (almost) 11-year-old. Even more striking, though, was the ending sequence of the film where it is made clear that, in maturity, our experiences are rarely 100% happy or 100% sad. Rather, they are often a mixture, tinged with seemingly contradictory emotions.
Christianity Today writer, Ethan McCarthy, took this a step further in a recent article, noting that sadness is an important part of the Christian life. “The Christian life,” he writes, “begins with sadness—sorrow over our own sin—and that sorrow continues throughout our life as layer after layer of our soul is peeled back and revealed to us.” Reminding his readers that Jesus is depicted more in terms of grief than happiness, e sees Christian sadness as an essential, if often forgotten, component of an authentic Christian experience. He writes, “As our eyes are opened to the plight of the world, our focus starts to shift away from our own worries and desires and onto the needs of other people. We find ourselves surrounded by people to grieve with, and terrible situations to grieve over.” McCarthy’s evocative article can be read here.
The Christian heart ought to break over sin. It ought to be sobered with thoughts of our Savior’s sacrifice those many centuries ago. If we are to emulate the Savior, it is important to balance our laughter with tears as we seek His face.