Toy Story 3: The Wilderness of the Playroom

Being an emotional guy (it comes with the territory of being a writer), it’s rare that I don’t cry in movies. I seek out unity and beauty in storytelling, and when all the pieces flow together like a great symphony, I’m a goner.

Now, it’s fine to let the floodgates open in the privacy of your own home, but poor Sarabeth and I had no idea what sort of emotional toll was waiting for me at the theaters when we went to see the latest Toy Story installment.

Those who have seen it know what I’m talking about. During the closing scene, when Andy is giving all of his beloved toys away, Sarabeth, being more of a rock than I am, turns to me and can practically see the entire movie screen in my wet eyes and drenched cheeks.

“Are you okay?” she asked. I could only nod my head, not fully convincing her that I was. She rolled her eyes and shook her head, probably thinking, “I married such a sissy.” Needless to say, we had to wait until the lights came back on in the theater to make a safe and somewhat dignified departure. (Recently I asked her when she had seen me cry the hardest and she said it was during Toy Story 3. I personally thought it was when we watched My Dog Skip.)

To make myself feel better, I googled the question, “How many men in their 20’s cried during Toy Story 3?” The vast number of confessors helped restore my masculinity. But why such an emotional response? I’m sure there are many answers to this question: Nostalgia; saying goodbye to childhood; leaving Andy; we’re all just a bunch of saps… I would like to propose another answer. I think somewhere deep down we envy Woody’s loyalty. He’s not perfect by any means, and he could be faulted for a lot of things, but his biggest fault could be his steadfast devotion to others. And it’s not even his loyalty to Andy that we envy, it’s his loyalty to fulfill what he was meant to do – to be played with. But the passage of time had stripped him and his friends of that opportunity.

We have all been caught in the wilderness. With an abundance of motivation and a large supply of talents, we’ve been stopped in our tracks and refused permission to proceed with our goals. Maybe you’re waiting for your adoption papers. Or you don’t have the funds to invest in your talents. Maybe the economy turned your dream job into a nightmare. Or you’ve got plenty of love to give, but no one to give it to. These are all situations where we should feel most at home with many characters from the Bible, particularly the Israelites who were forced to wander the wilderness for forty years for their sins. Many of us are in the wilderness because of our sins – laziness, lack of faith, fill in the blank. And others of us are just suffering the consequences of a fallen world, or you just haven’t reached Gods timing yet. We can list off a hundred different reasons why we’re in the wilderness, but the fact is the wilderness is chillingly real and we are very much in it.

But the point is, what will you do while you’re in the wilderness? Will you follow my lead and pout, stomp your foot and complain to God while feeling sorry for yourself in the corner of a room? Or will you follow Paul’s lead and find joy in the darkness of a damp prison? Or Jesus’, spurring the temptations of the Devil? Or Joshua and Caleb, holding steadfast to the God they love even while everyone they know and love is falling dead around them and their day-to-day lives are more mundane than our own 9-5’s?

I think it’s appropriate that Disney/Pixar’s most evil villain is not a dragon or a witch or even a puppy-snatcher. In fact, Lotso, Toy Story 3’s antagonist, is probably one of the most evil villains in most movies combined. Satan comes to us in the form of a loveable, pink teddy bear who smells like strawberries. God might put us in the wilderness, but Satan is there to meet us head-on. He’ll convince you that a) the wilderness isn’t so bad, that life isn’t meant to be enjoyed so you might as well accept the status quo, or b) you deserve better than this, how dare God leave you in such a wretched state; curse Him, spit on Him, leave Him!

Brothers and sisters, no matter who you are or where you’re at in life, you’re in the wilderness right now. Life is a wilderness of wandering and finding truth, waiting out the storms and fighting the good fight. Those who trust in Jesus Christ know that there will be an end to this wilderness and we will live in Paradise in the end. But to those of you who do not put your hope and trust in God, this is the greatest paradise you will ever know and your wilderness will be waiting for you on the other side and it will never ever end, and once you’re there, trusting in God will do no good.

But while we’re here, trust n God that this meaningless wandering will come to an end, and that when you’re in Jesus, there is actually nothing meaningless at all about your wilderness stay. Joseph trusted God in prison. David praised God in hiding. And Joshua and Caleb? They were the only ones who had enough faith in God to see the promised land at the end of the 40 years, and their efforts were greatly rewarded.

Woody held out until the very end to do what he was meant to do. Even in the face of adversary from his friends, apparent abandonment from his owner, hostile adversaries, betrayal and even death, Woody never once lost sight of who he was supposed to be and what he was made for. And we shouldn’t either. We are here to praise God and worship Him. That’s our purpose for being here. I wonder, if they made a movie about Joshua and Caleb, if I would cry in the end of that one too, because I certainly envy and long for their loyalty. And you should, too.

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About adoptingjames
My lovely wife and I are foster parents, dog owners, home owners, and Christians. I am a blogger, book editor, and author. On my blog you'll read about adoption, faith topics, inspirational thoughts, and a whole lotta Disney/Pixar lovin'! For the most exciting read ever, check out my suspense/adventure novel, The Man in the Box. You. Will. Love it.

16 Responses to Toy Story 3: The Wilderness of the Playroom

  1. southernjohnson says:

    Wow!!! Well said all the way around! I needed that reminder! Thank you! God bless!!! :)

  2. southernjohnson says:

    Reblogged this on Southern Johnson.

  3. abtwixt says:

    I love your Pixar commentary! It’s easy to grasp, and yet very deep. Keep it up!

  4. Rebekah L. says:

    I am not usually emotional about movies but I bawled my eyes out in the theater at the close of TS3. I was mortified. I feel much better knowing I wasn’t the only one. ;)

  5. Although I am an almost 50 year old Grandma and not a man in my 20’s…. I have always had the tears flow freely at movies… and even cartoons!! Love your analogy….very relate-able !

  6. Chrystal says:

    This was awesome! In every way!

  7. linneann says:

    Smooth job! It’s so nice to read something both deep and entertaining. Well-done. It’s also nice to meet a young man who is a mature crier. :)

  8. Stacey Blubaugh says:

    You know, my family (Dad in particular) really took a chance when they sat down with me for a movie. I (was) am highly sensitive and when things were good, I was elated, declaring “This is the best movie ever!” and when things were bad (all of 5 minutes later), “I hate this movie!”

    Dad would then mumble a few expletives and command me to just watch the expletive movie! Of course, in a most loving way possible…expletive.

    I laughed out loud. Sarabeth and my husband should probably start a “movies make my spouse cry” fan club. John is so good to me though. There are no mention of expletives.

    This glorifies God and provokes us! Thanks! I’ll be going through your archives for sure!

  9. Cozziscorner says:

    Wow, very good post! I really enjoyed reading this! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Wayne Augden says:

    What a great post. Some of the best writing I’ve read in awhile. I shared this on my facebook page. I should have asked, and I apologize for not having done so, but I was so excited after reading it, and thought people have got to see this! I truly hope you don’t mind, and that I haven’t offended you.

  11. During the furnance scene near the end I had to balance my head upwards ever so carefully so that no tears would escape. Such a great movie.

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Woody’s loyalty to his purpose in life (and that he was able to fulfill it eventually) is probably one of the biggest reasons this movie resonates with us on such a deep level. I’m really enjoying your series on Pixar movies because you keep pointing out this resonance to us. Keep it up!

  12. btg5885 says:

    I must confess my most teary movie moment is in “Field of Dreams” when Kevin Costner asks his Dad for a game of catch. Thanks for sharing your story.

  13. Writers are more in touch with their inner selves…No wonder they are more emotional.
    Man…All I could say when watching that movie was “Who cut the Onions in here?”

  14. grannyK says:

    Wow I’m so glad others had emotional moments with TS3. The ending made me so very sad but incredibly happy all at the same time! I could relate closely with the ending of a happy time. A part of your life that you cherished that came to an end. But, a new chapter is waiting and you need to be open to it. What happens next could be just as wonderful.

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