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I’ve been watching a lot of Toy Story lately. While Brody doesn’t ask to watch TV all day long (hurray!), he has taken a shine to this particular movie trilogy and wants it and it alone when the mood strikes. And you know what? That’s fine with me. If I have to watch any kids’ movie series, this is a great one.

Yesterday, we watched Toy Story 2. In this installment, Woody gets his arm torn loose at the seam just before he and his owner, Andy, are headed off to Cowboy Camp. Mom offers to try and fix Woody on the way, but, defeated, Andy tells Mom no, to just leave him, and she sits poor Woody up on the dusty shelf.

Woody has been Andy’s number one, go-to toy from the moment he was received, so being “shelved,” (horror of horrors in toy land) is a real blow. Because toys come to life when out of human sight, we’re aware of Woody’s ability to climb down from the shelf. However, even after his other toy friends beg him to come down, he retreats further onto the shelf, Andy’s name on the bottom of his boot fading from view as he pulls himself out of sight.

I have done this. After being dealt a blow I didn’t see coming, I have retreated into the far-removed, dank recesses of self-pity. I have stewed over how I was wronged, and all the ways I didn’t deserve it, shutting out those who love me most in favor of my own sour company. In the end, I found myself breathing in, and coughing out, the stale layer of dust that my self-centered inactivity had awarded me.

There is no forward movement in self-pity. It’s impossible when your focus is turned inward, instead of ahead. It’s only when you bring your gaze toward another that you find your limbs able to function again. For Woody, it was the surprising discovery of his old friend, Wheezy, stuck behind a book, and suddenly whisked down from the shelf by Mom for a garage sale. Unwilling to let Wheezy be sold for a mere 25¢, Woody forgets his own troubles and springs into action to rescue his friend, sending himself on a new adventure in the process.

If you’re feeling shelved today, turn your gaze to the world around you and see who else is suffering. What can you do to help? In the effort, you might just find that you’re no longer hacking out dust, and you have a much clearer view of a road ahead, filled with new adventure. You might even discover that your torn parts are ultimately healed, too, as you find your way back home, your Owner’s name proudly displayed for all to see.

 

Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. ~ Philippians 2:4 MSG