3 Life Changing Lessons About Trials I Found in the Latest Pixar Movie


Inside Out has quickly become the movie of the summer for adults and children alike. For those of you who haven’t seen it, this may have a few spoilers so take that as caution. I don’t want to ruin the movie for you.

This is one of the most creative, brilliant movies I’ve seen in a while. There are 5 “personalities,” Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear inside the mind of a little girl, Riley. After a life changing move across the country, Riley has to adjust to a new city and brand new life without everything she grew up loving. Throughout the movie Joy is trying to ensure that every memory Riley has is a happy one. Joy is also trying to stop Sadness from turning happy memories sad and in turn gets herself and Sadness locked out of “headquarters,” the command center of Riley’s brain.

Here are 3 things that Inside Out taught me about the trials we encounter in our walk with God.

1. Sometimes sadness has to come before joy.

Towards the end of the movie, Joy realizes that some of Riley’s happiest memories came after some of the saddest moments. Sometimes our walk with God is the same way. Not every season we walk through is a mountain top, sometimes we have to walk through a dry, cracked, painful, lonely valley.

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy
Psalm 30:11 (NLT)

If you’re walking through a valley right now, be encouraged. Though it may not always seem like it, once you climb those hurdles, overcome those challenges, there will be joy and a mountain top. And remember, as you walk through this difficult season, it’s okay to not be okay.

2. When it’s not okay, there are lessons to be learned.

There were lessons that had to be learned by both Joy and Sadness when they were stuck outside of Headquarters. Joy had to learn that sometimes sadness comes before happiness and Sadness had to learn that she was important too. In our walk with God, we have lessons that have to be learned while we’re trudging through our most difficult seasons.

Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
James 1:2-4 (NLT)

When you’re walking through a season that is challenging, embrace the lessons God is teaching you. Is He helping you grow in an area you’re lacking? Is He giving you hope even when your situation feels hopeless? Embrace where you are, learn your lessons and keep climbing. These lessons will come in handy later. God wouldn’t have you walk through a trial for no reason.

3. Trials shape who we are.

Part of the big challenge that Joy faces when she’s trying to get back to headquarters is to keep Riley’s “Core Memories” safe. These memories shape who Riley is, they are the core of her personality. During the movie, all of the things that make up Riley’s personality become cracked, broken, or completely lost. At the end of the movie you see Riley create new “Core Memories, shaping who she is.

When we endure trials in our walk with God, the same thing happens. Those lessons that we learn change how we embrace life and how we see the world.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
Romans 5:3-4 (NLT)

This one ties in really well to the last lesson. When we learn from our trials we not only develop who we are, but we also learn who God is. When something breaks us, or tears down everything that we know, we learn to trust God more, and lean on Him. When the things we view as our “core memories” are cracked, broken or completely lost we have no choice but to trust God.

When “life as we know it” is altered in these trials, we learn new lessons that transform the way we see the world and how we embrace other obstacles that may come our way. Trials stretch us out of our comfort zone and teach us new skills and new ways of reacting to change and life challenges. We mature more as humans, and as Christ followers when we embrace the trials and choose to learn from them. We need to let them reshape who we are, in a positive way.

(Photo from Disney)

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