Yes, I cried. Mind you that’s not very surprising, I’d had a lump in my throat just reading a review before I even went! I could feel myself welling up in the opening scenes. By the time the credits rolled at the end, even David was crying.
In case you don’t know the plot has moved on. Andy the little boy owner of Woody, Buzz and all the gang is all grown up and about to leave for college. So what will happen to the toys still languishing in the long neglected toy chest: attic or trash? Donate or destroy? A brilliant story unfolds as the toys narrowly avoid the trash cart, escape from ‘Stalag Daycare’ and fight their way back to Andy… but when they are rediscovered, what will he do?
Behind the Toy Story is the ‘Mom’ story: letting go of her little boy who is growing up and moving on. Obviously this is the bit that packs the real punch emotionally and going to see the film the day after our ‘little boy’ left to wander around India for 8 weeks probably wasn’t the best idea I ever had.
If your kids are in their late teens/early twenties then the original Toy Story films were part of their childhood. We vividly remember bringing Matt home from the first film. He rushed upstairs, put all his toys out on the floor and then we caught him standing outside on the landing, peering through a crack in the door to see if they moved! (He’s going to kill me for telling that story, but he’s in India, what do I care?)
For those of us currently in the process of packing away that childhood, the nostalgia is almost unbearable. I so well remember sitting in my daughter’s depleted bedroom after leaving her at Uni for the first time thinking ‘Well, that’s it, she’s left home, how the heck did that happen so fast?’
But it’s not all gloom. Moving on has to be a good thing. Decisions about what to store, what to donate and what to dump have to happen if you are going to make space in your life for a new thing. After I finished teaching English it took me three years to finally dispose of all my resources, even though I desperately needed the space for my new calling but I still found it hard to let go of the past.
Letting go of children, recognising you no longer have control or authority in their lives is both a relief and a grief. Yesterday I was reading about Moses whose mother ‘let him go’ at 3 months old. She abandoned him into a basket amongst the reeds, no doubt hoping and praying someone would pick him up. (Leaving a child by the river was the equivalent of the orphanage steps). She abandoned him into the arms of another woman and yet she received him back. She was even paid to nurse her own child for a season but it was only to have to let him go again.
Children: we are given them… we give them back… we are given them again for a little while but they’ve never been ours to keep. We have to keep giving them over to the one who gave them to us in the first place and only as we empty our hands (of fear, worry, control) can our hands be refilled in whatever way God chooses.