By: Alisse French
If you’re like me then you will probably need a full box of tissues to get through the first 10 minutes of Disney Pixar’s Up. And the kicker is, there are very few words in this opening scene. So how can it be so emotionally moving? Well, through actions. The first few minutes gives us a reel of the life of Carl and Ellie Frederickson from childhood on up. We see a shy and frightened boy that is pulled out of his shell by an eccentric little adventurer, Ellie. And boy what an adventure she takes them on. We get to watch a life well lived in a matter of minutes.
Now their lives were not without trouble. Their life together was weaved with good and bad times. Marriage, picnics, and anticipation of goals and dreams weaved together with unaccepted expenses, loss, and illness. Some may even say that their life ended sadly because they never accomplished their dream of living in Paradise Falls. But, I would have to disagree. Their life was not well lived by what they accomplished, but rather how they lived it. Their life was full of love and love to the fullest. We can see that in the way Carl was always there to cheer up his bride, in the way they looked at each other, in the way they felt loss. We can see that in the moment where Ellie gives Carl permission to live, even when she won’t. And we can see that in the way Carl doesn’t know how to go on. And then finally, we can see it when he takes a chance and loves again. This time though, he shows that love to an excitable yet slightly broken little boy.
So what can we learn from this? Why is this scene so hard to watch? And why do we even sometimes want to avoid it? Maybe, because although it is a movie with many fantasy filled adventures, some of the scenes look a whole lot like our own lives. Our lives are full of adventures. Some good and some not. And that at times can be frightening. It can be so much easier to guard our hearts, to lock them away, and turn away from the reality of the world. C.S. Lewis puts it well, “There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.”But Jesus didn’t call us to do that. He called us to love. In Matthew 16:24, he says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”Now when we think of this verse, you usually probably imagine extreme circumstances involving persecution and mocking for your faith. But, I would like to suggest the thought that loving can also be a tough load to carry. To love requires us to face the truth that we may not be loved back, that we may face trouble, that we may face loss, and that we will have no choice but to be vulnerable. But it’s in these things that we can see the gospel so clearly. There are very few words in those first few moments of Up. But we can no doubt, see the sacrificial love shown. When we love, there is no doubt that others can see God.
Now Carl and Ellie never accomplished their dream of living in paradise falls. But maybe that dream was not their purpose. And the same goes for us. We may not always accomplish everything we set our minds to. But that doesn’t mean God isn’t using us for his purpose. We may never know what impact our life had in God’s plan on this side of heaven and although difficult, we have to try accept that. It’s not always the big and grandeur things that have the biggest effect. Sometimes even the simple acts of smiling, listening, showing up, and being present can go a long way.
What will the reel of your life look like? Will the love of Jesus be evident? And are you willing to go all in?
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, 121.