25 Jun 2015

Dealing with Emotions

Recently I took two of my grandchildren to see the latest Disney Pixar film entitled Inside Out.  It is being promoted as possibly the best of an impressive roster of Disney Pixar films.  As we were leaving the theater I could honestly say that I fully agree!  Although it is a PG rated animated film, it holds so many life lessons that I believe every adult and child over the age of 8 can and should benefit from.  In short it is centered around a close knit, loving family which consists of a mother, father, and their pre-teen daughter, Riley. The movie begins with the family’s move from Minnesota to San Francisco, CA.   

Although the move is job related on the father’s part, it has a tremendous effect on all three of them.  The movie focuses on the myriad of emotions we all have; and children are certainly not exempt.  Not long after their arrival to their new home, Riley’s mom thanks her for the outstanding way in which she is handling all the changes and adjustments and asks that she keep it up and bear with them just a little longer as they are endeavoring to get settled in. 

Ironically the very next day when Riley goes to her new school for the first time she comes face to face with what life was for her and what she sees it to be now.  She enters with such a brave and optimistic attitude, but when the teacher introduces her to the class and asks her to share a little bit about herself everything begins to take a turn.  I believe that up to that point Riley had not really vocalized nor internalized the magnitude of what was going on in her life.  But when she begins to talk about where she came from, what she left behind, and all that would no longer be the life she had grown to love, reality quickly set in!

Much of the “story” is narrated by characters that represent our human emotions, i.e. joy, anger, sadness, disgust, and fear.  Joy is the principle emotion that desperately seeks to be the dominant factor in Riley’s life.  Joy works overtime trying to ensure that the other not so favorable emotions get out of control and keep everything on an even keel.  As the movie progressed I couldn’t help but formulate a spiritual connotation.  Although every one of our emotions were created by God (whether good or bad), they are a unique part of how we function in life.  These emotions shape our character, personality, and daily attitude. 

As a 12 year old Riley was unable to appropriately manage her whirlwind of emotions due to the circumstances she was thrust into beyond her control.  We experience similar scenarios that vary in content or reason, but the emotions that arise are common to us all.  But how do we handle these emotions?  Is our relationship with our Father secure and mature enough that we allow true “joy” that is only found in Him to prevail.  Or do we succumb to the other emotions that try to dominate the situation and work to our detriment as opposed to our good?  Understandably it is difficult to nearly impossible for a child to understand the sovereignty of God’s will.  However as an adult we should strive to allow our emotions to come under subjection to the will of God rather than reacting through natural immaturity and allowing our emotions to control us.  

The emotions of anger, sadness, disgust, fear, and many others do in fact have an important place in our lives.  They are meant to move us closer to God as we trust Him to be our gauge and our guide in every situation life hands us.  Out of anger we transition into forgiveness and love; through sadness we can experience the true meaning of happiness; we substitute disgust with understanding while eliminating the affliction of offence; we exchange fear with trust in God and walk in the boldness and security of the truth and reality of who we were created to be!

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down;
For the Lord upholds him with His hand.”
(Psalm 37: 23, 24)