Moving away from home is difficult. If you have ever done that, there are so many emotions that come with the realization that it is actually happening. If you have ever moved your kids away from home, there is a whole new level of emotion that accompanies that experience.
About two years ago, my family and I packed up and moved from Charleston, SC to Castle Rock, CO. I remember the day we told my daughter, Rilee we were moving. She was in kindergarten at the time and I watched as every emotion hit her all at once. She was excited, this sounded like an adventure. She was scared, what will life look like in this new place? And then, she was sad. The thought of a new school and making new friends, a new church and new way of life. All of this was a lot for a 5-year-old to process.
If you’ve ever seen the movie, “Inside Out,” you know exactly what I am talking about. The main character, whose name happens to be Riley, is moved from Minnesota to San Francisco after her dad gets a new job. Throughout the course of the movie, we see her emotions each fighting to take control of her actions as she processes her feelings. The main struggle is between Joy, who is trying everything she can to keep the other emotions at bay, and Sadness who is trying to take charge so that Riley can lean in to her emotions and just feel them.
The whole thing reminds me of Ecclesiastes 7:3. In this verse, Solomon writes, “Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.” This seems counterintuitive to the typical message the word sends. We often hear things like, “Man up!” “Suck it up!” “Power through!” and “Head down and keep moving!” But in this verse, Solomon seems to be suggesting that the pathway to joy is through the valley of sadness.
I’ve seen this first hand in my own life. When we bottle things up or try to push past the sadness without experiencing it, we shut down the opportunity for God to pull in closer and heal our hearts. When we try to sidestep the process, we miss the blessing that comes from walking through the challenge.
In the movie, when Riley is finally able to experience her pain and talk it through, that is when her family rallies around her. That is when she is able to experience the love they have for her in a tangible way. That is when they are able to identify with her, share their own feelings of sadness, and connect on a level that they have yet to experience with her. That connection allows her to feel uplifted and supported by those around her. It is sadness that can anchor us and allow us to see what true joy looks like. So, when sadness comes, don’t feel the pressure to “Power up and power through,.” Let yourself feel it, walk through the process and allow God to pull in close. Enter the valley of sadness and recognize it as part of the pathway to joy. After all, it is in the valley that we learn to see the true beauty of the mountaintop.