What I Learned from Inside Out

I’m a Disney fan.

It’s the simplicities of their feature animated stories I love. Good vs. evil. Love defeats fear. Our hero learns to care AND have courage! Combine those themes with the power of animation magic and you’re transported into a world that’s not only beyond your imagination, but teaches a truth we can all connect with.

Look at Inside Out. (I realize it’s a Disney “Pixar” film, but it’s all under John Lasseter now, so everyone cool your jets. : ) Inside Out has a bit of a dual story. First, you have Riley, who’s a young girl swept away from her Minnesotan home to San Francisco. She played hockey at her old place, and San Francisco has none. Riley is sad and feels alone. Obviously, we can all connect with those feelings.

Inside Out has another story happening at the same time: Inside Riley’s mind. At “headquarters” sits her emotions. Joy. Sadness. Anger. Fear. Disgust. They’re at the helm helping Riley navigate her feelings. Beyond them sits Riley’s Islands of Personality. These islands make Riley who she is. Her identity is built on them.

I connect with this part of the story the most. I have Islands of Personality. “Work” Island. “Friends” Island. “Money” Island. These are the things I hold most prominent in my life. When I’m being an awesome freelancer or I’m killing it as I work at my church, “Work” Island is electric! When I’m invited to parties or on vacation with friends or getting calls from the people I love, “Friends” Island is rocking and rolling. Here’s the problem, though. These islands, have a fatal flaw. They can easily crumble. All it takes is a day or a week or a month of a project going sour to shut down “Work” Island. All it takes is a little disapproval from a client. When it’s shaken, I’m shaken and when it crumbles, I crumble.

In Inside Out, the same happens with Riley and she eventually rebuilds some of her islands, expands others and builds new ones. Here’s the problem, though. In the film a rebuilt or replaced island is a beautiful ending, but life can’t work like that. Replacing one relationship with another and creating an island around it doesn’t solve the problem, it only provides temporary relief. It can still crumble.

If I envision the islands of identity in my mind, I like to think that if I pan over to the left a bit I see something far more beautiful and solid than anything I’ve developed on my own: The “Jesus” Island. I totally get that it sounds nerdy and cliche and Chrstianese and churchy, but I can think of no clearer way to communicate it.

The thing about the Jesus Island is that it’s not held up by the situations that surround my life. It doesn’t have a fatal flaw. it can’t crumble, because Jesus doesn’t crumble. And when I look at the islands I’ve previously made, I realize they’re all ultimately given to me by him, but I’ve made these good things THE things. I’ve centered my identity around these islands of personality. When I make a decision to put him and His island at the CENTER of my being, then not only is my identity found in an island that never fails me, but the other islands surround Him in a way that not only brings me enjoyment, but gives me an opportunity to worship him. Now, friendship island surrounds my love for conversation about Christ. Now, Work Island points to his forgiveness and leading others to Him. Now, Marriage Island is centered around His direction for our life.

Personality Islands are a beautiful metaphor for the gifts and beauty God has given us for our enjoyment and His glory. And as long as we keep Him and His island at the center, we are overwhelmed by the peace and love and joy that comes with Him.

And that’s what I’ve learned, and I hope helps you, from Inside Out. Now go watch it, cause it’s a dang good film.

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