What Christians Should Learn about Sadness from Inside Out

Ryan Duncan | Crosswalk.com Entertainment Editor | Tuesday, July 21, 2015
What Christians Should Learn about Sadness from <i>Inside Out</i>

What Christians Should Learn about Sadness from <i>Inside Out</i>

There’s a song by Casting Crowns with the following lyrics,  

“Are we happy plastic people, under shiny plastic steeples,
With walls around our weakness and smiles to hide our pain?
But if the invitation’s open to every heart that has been broken,
maybe then we’ll close the curtain on our stained glass masquerade.”

As Christians, we know the Church is meant to be a hospital for sinners, not showcase for saints. Unfortunately, many of us still have a difficult time accepting our pain. When asked how we are, we choose to bury our feelings, put on a fake smile, and pretend that everything’s fine. A stain-glassed masquerade. Maybe it’s because we’re afraid of being judged, or maybe it’s because Christians see sadness as a moral failing. What’s clear is that bottling our sorrow never made someone spiritually healthy.

Ethan McCarthy of Christianity Today believes Christians can learn a lot about healthy emotions from Inside Out, the recent film from Pixar Studios. The movie tells the story of five emotions living inside a young girl: Joy, Anger, Fear, Sadness, and Disgust. Joy is the leader of the band and calls the shots, while Sadness is something of an outcast. However, as the story progresses, audiences realize Sadness has an important role to play. McCarthy writes,

“At the crux of Inside Out is its gentle acknowledgment of the important function of sadness in an emotionally healthy person. Sadness is not portrayed as a negative emotion. It is not a necessary evil to be pushed away until it’s absolutely unavoidable. Instead, Riley needs sadness. It’s the only appropriate response to the turmoil and confusion she feels.”

“Sadness—in the movie and in real life—can be a positive emotion. It is not the absence of joy, or a stubborn, Eeyore-like refusal to look on the bright side. In its proper place, sadness is merely right. At such times, no other emotion will do.”

This message isn’t new, in fact it’s one that is repeated throughout scripture (Ecclesiastes 3:4, Psalm 34:18, John 11:35). Christians need to understand that sorrow has an important place within our life. Christ knew this. As one who was fully God and fully human, he embraced all aspects of human emotion, even sorrow. McCarthy states,

Our faith is predicated on sadness. As we grow in Christ’s service, we begin to recognize ourselves in Christ’s sad gaze in the icons. The sadness of Jesus exemplifies the sadness of Christians everywhere, and through it the whole world is redeemed. For the sadness of Jesus is not an ultimate sadness: the Bible also promises the end of sadness, and the wiping away of all tears: ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’ (Matt. 5:4).

Remember the words of John 14:1 and do not let your hearts be troubled. Christ is with us in both our joy and our sadness, and that is something in which we can take great comfort.

What about you? Are there more lessons from Inside Out you think Christians can learn?


*Published 7/21/2015

**Ryan Duncan is the Entertainment Editor for Crosswalk.com