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Inside Out & the Place of Sadness

*There are a few spoilers*
In the film Inside Out we meet two emotions that seem totally opposed to one another; joy and sadness. They live inside an 11-year-old girls head called Riley. It turns out that Joy doesn’t want Sadness anywhere near Riley’s memories.

It’s because Sadness seems to ruin everything. Sadness make the world turn blue, cold and wet through with tears.

I often feel like I want to get rid of sadness too, banish it from my world. This is mostly because I’m not sure how to deal with it, perhaps its a cultural in-grain of the stiff upper lip. Or perhaps its a difficulty to know where to place it.

But the film teaches us that sadness can take its place alongside joy. It does takes a whole adventure for Joy (and the audience) to realise that Riley needs sadness to function as much as she needs Joy.

We soon see sadness is not an emotion to lock away or be afraid of. But we can allow it to take words, shape and form;

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” – Macbeth, Shakespeare.

It reminds us that we too need to allow sadness to shed its tears, to make our hearts ache, to cry out and to mourn. Otherwise we see ourselves do what Riley did – become very confused, angry and have the desire to run away from it all.Inside-Out-Joy-Sadness

This made me think about the place of sadness in our Christian communities and whether we provide the space for it.
Even though there is much to be celebrated, and as we look along the sunbeam we should find great joy in many things. Yet sadness is still very much a reality of our world. There is no escape from it.

In scripture we find many places where sadness drips from the pages and I think it prompts us to join in:

So as “Jesus wept” (John 11:35), we can also weep at the horrors of death and suffering. As kings and cities ripped their clothes and sat in ashcloth, mourning for days, not eating but crying out to God; then we can join in their lamentation over our own nation and sin.

As the Psalms sing “My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!” (Psalm 119:28) then we can allow the songs we sing in church to reflect and cry out our sorrow and despair to God, so that we may be strengthened once again by His word.

We can take great courage that the Christian life is not just a place for smiles but for tears too.

The film Inside Out reminds me that sadness is needed as we strive and grapple through this life. That we need not be afraid to experience it or give it words.

But also lets not forget that Sadness never stands alone, even though it may feel like it and we feel so overwhelmed. But Joy is always right alongside it:

“Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30v5

That Joy only comes in the morning as the Sun rises – like a “bridegroom leaving his chamber” and “nothing is hidden from its heat.” (Psalm 19v5&6)

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