Letting Go

Here’s a fascinating and insightful take on Pixar films as a whole. This is taken from the book The Art of Up by Tim Hauser:

Taken as a whole, Pixar’s films can be viewed as serialized chapters in a single life: from sibling rivalry, early attachment (Toy Story), and socialization (A Bug’s Life), to maturation (Monter’s Inc.), separation, and parenthood (Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo); from protecting the nuclear family (The Incredibles), shifting out of the fast lane (Cars), and rekindling passion (Ratatouille), to planning for future generations (WALL-E), and, finally, accepting death (Up). 

Up is more than just a picture of moving on from death. To me, it’s one of the greatest images of love that Hollywood has ever placed on the silver screen. Throughout his whole life, our character Carl is set on keeping his wife’s promises. He never goes back on his word – no matter what. This is a lesson many of us, myself included, need to be reminded of. Too often I’ll make a promise to Sarabeth and I won’t go through with it either because “I forgot,” or I just didn’t feel like it because it suddenly wasn’t convenient for me. Up convicts me as a Christian.

But as wonderful as a (true) love story this is, I would like to focus on another aspect of the film that is sometimes overlooked and is pertinent to this blog. In the movie, Carl has his life set to a certain standard, and his goals are fixed without room for interruption. But interruption knocks on his door (2,000 feet in the air) and presents itself. Throughout the story, Russell the boy slowly but surely wedges his  way into Carl’s heart. And slowly we begin to see the ideology of an adoption form. We learn that Russell is fatherless and Carl steps in as his surrogate. But the only way for him to do that is by letting go of what’s closest to him.

Often, if not always, that is what ministry of any kind requires. Make no mistake that adoption falls under the category of ministry. We all can attest that it’s not easy giving things up, because it seems that what is required of us in order to do our ministry effectively, is what’s most dear to us. It could be a call to part with money, a house, comfort, or even a sin that we’re harboring in our hearts. I believe this is the reason so many Christians refrain from partaking in true self-giving ministry (myself included). In a sense, ministry is not free – there is a cost to following Jesus, and a lot of times that cost is high to pay. But we must learn to see it as more of an investment, because God promises that He will repay us in Heaven for all we have given Him on earth.

But we’re so finite! We lack the eternal sense that there is a life beyond this, where what we do here will actually matter for an eternity. Even the best of us feels pain when we part with something we would rather keep. There’s a reason why it is emotional every time a balloon pops in the movie, because we feel Carl’s pain of letting go. When his house, which is a representation of his wife’s memory, creaks, and groans and falls apart, we are witnessing someone losing the most cherished (and only) possession he has. And sometimes we feel that what we hold closest to us is all we have.

But here’s the good news. God will always replace what is lost with something richer, and more appropriate for the season of life we’re in. When my good friend Nick died of heart problems when I was a sophomore in high school, God sent a new friend into my life to fill that role. He has been my best friend from that time until now, even though we haven’t lived in the same state for several years. Or maybe God will replace something you lost with His presence, or a subtle sense of joy, or peace, or fulfillment. Carl needed someone to share his life with, because he was wasting the last days of his life away in solitude. But in order for him to accept Russell into his life, he had to let go of his past, and be willing to move forward into the next season of his life.

If you’re holding onto something today that you know you need to part with, pray that God will give you the courage and strength to do away with it. Look around at what you know God has given you, and live accordingly.


Published by Andrew Toy

Writer when I'm not being a husband or dad. So mostly just a husband and dad.

17 thoughts on “Letting Go

  1. normally, i’m first in line for a new pixar movie. they’re rarely less than brilliant. up was fabulous. however, the new movie coming out, “brave,” i might have to avoid it. the main character looks too much like my daughter, and i haven’t seen my daughter very much in almost a year. my ex-wife told her lies about me, and the poor kid believed them without talking to me first, and i can’t get her to listen. to watch that character will be too much like watching my own kid, and i won’t make it through the movie. it’ll be difficult to pass a pixar film.


  2. Mr. Fredricksen and Russell are two of my most favorite characters of all time. I never wondered why, I just loved them. You’ve explained so much of their appeal. Thank you for that.


  3. Thanks for the message and Up is a great movie! I love the dog how every so often he’d be talking and then “squirrel!” I can’t remember the names but I love the opening scene with the man and his wife!


  4. So sweet. So true. My sweetheart and I met in high school 40 years ago and have been on an adventure ever since. The movie reminded me so much of our lives, except we haven’t gotten to the dying part. That’s why we ride a motorcycle. Perhaps we shall ride off into eternity together. But if not, God will fill the gap as you so beautifully reminded. Thank you friend!


  5. Beautiful blog post! I was just reading Matthew 19:29, “and everyone who has left (or lost or let go of) houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life”. Your post explained this so well and with such a fantastic example from the movie UP. Thanks for a delightful start to my day.


  6. Amazing movie, and amazing post. Thank you so much for sharing this. I have enjoyed reading your posts on here, and am happy you found my blog so that I could experience yours.


  7. Such a lovely post! Up is one of my fav Pixar movies. And I agree…God will always replace what is lost with something richer. This has been manifested in my life, as well. Thank you for stopping by my blog recently.


  8. Letting go is one of those reminders that needs to come back at us over and over again, like a ferris wheel… just when we get too attached, just when we think we cannot do without.. thanks for just one more reminder. I really enjoy your writing!
    Thanks for dropping by my blog,


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