One of my favorite movie franchises is Pixar’s Toy Story. I absolutely love all three of those movies and could watch/quote them ad infinitum. In fact, one of the lines from the original film gets quoted all the time by either my wife or myself; it’s delivered by Sarge, an Army soldier voiced by the incomparable R. Lee Ermey:
If you clicked on the link, you recognize, of course, that this line comes just after Woody has accidentally knocked Buzz out of Andy’s bedroom window and the other toys are discovering Woody’s villainy. I don’t know why this line resonated with us so much–perhaps it’s the idea of a tiny green toy with more moxie than size taking on “the man” atop the toy heirarchy–but we find it hysterical.
And lately, I find I’ve been saying it to myself an awful lot.
I could go all theological on you, but the plain fact of the matter is that sometimes I’m just a dirtbag. A snarky, cynically little cuss who doesn’t much care about other people and their situations, only what’s going on in my own little world. Much like Woody, I’ve knocked some people out of some windows because they encroached on my corner of the universe.
And every time I did it, I could hear the words: “Where is your honor, dirtbag?”
That’s been changing lately, thanks to places like The Hope Center and the CLC class at Grayson High School where I’ve been able to sit in on occasion. Meeting other people and hearing their stories, listening to their thoughts, has been enlightening for my own life. In taking the time to acknowledge others, I’ve found that my professional and personal life has been much more satisfying. I’m hearing Sarge less and less.
There are still moments when I’m challenged, but I’m learning to slow down, take some time to think and pray, and in the end see people differently.
Even when watching things like political debates and/or speeches.
In the end, I’m learning that I can’t boil people down to simple things like platforms or beliefs, because sometimes folks defy those things. Human beings are complex and challenging and ever-changing, and so I can’t simply stick a person into a convenient category and go about my happy way. Well, I can, but it’s not healthy–for me, for my relationships, or my faith.
Almost fifteen years into a career as a minister, and I’m suddenly and radically learning one of Jesus’ most insistent and repeated commandments: love others.
Such simple words. And the secret to not being a dirtbag.