Knowing Us Inside Out

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Written By Candice Lim, Singapore

A typical question I get asked as a psychology major is: “Can you read my mind?” (No prizes for guessing my answer.) Perhaps that is why I have thought about how wonderful it would be if I could actually read another person’s mind. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person to think that way, which is why I think Disney’s latest Pixar offering, Inside Out, appeals to so many of us.

At its core, Inside Out is a refreshing, fun-filled journey into the complexities of our emotions, imagination, behavior, and thoughts. It centers on the adventures of the core emotions in 11-year-old Riley’s head (headquarters, rather): Anger, Disgust, Fear, Joy, and Sadness.

From Riley’s birth, Joy is the de facto leader. She tries to guard Riley’s happiness and memories with much devotion—but unwittingly relegates Sadness to the sidelines. But a crisis happens which sparks a madcap adventure to make Riley “herself” again—and in the process Joy learns to appreciate Sadness.

What an accurate portrayal of reality! Indeed, much of our actions are geared towards maintaining joy and avoiding sadness. We often see sadness as an awkward pessimist—someone we’d want to keep out of sight. Yet, sorrow is an important and natural part of being human. Proverbs 14:13 tells us: “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief.” Sadness can bring people together and lead us to empathize with others—and above all, remind us that joy on this earth is temporary.

We might find joy in experiences, things, relationships, and life itself—but it will never be perfect on earth. Only in heaven will we have a joy that is complete and true, with no tears, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4). It is one that Jesus will share with us in heaven.

But Joy and Sadness aren’t the only characters in the movie that offer us lessons. Inside Out also gives a sobering reminder that disaster can occur when Fear, Anger, and Disgust take control. It reminds us that we need much wisdom to exercise self-control and not give in to our emotions, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). So, while we may be told to go with our heart, maybe we should think twice before allowing our emotions to get to our head.

To be human is to be complex, in a beautiful way. We can’t define all the emotions we experience, nor even tell where they come from within our brains and bodies. It is difficult to understand ourselves fully, if not entirely impossible.

Well, the good news is that we are not complete mysteries—not to our Creator! Psalm 139 tells us how God formed our innermost parts, and that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (v.14). God knows and understands us fully. When He was on earth, Jesus himself experienced the same emotions we do—joy, anger, sadness, grief, amazement, and others. Even if we don’t comprehend ourselves fully, God knows us inside out—and loves us anyway.

Photo Credit: Forbes

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