On The Lego Movie, Unikitty, and Positive Thinking

Art credit:  Naomi Romero 

Art credit: Naomi Romero 

Any idea is a good idea. Except the not-happy ones. Those you push down deep inside where you’ll never, ever, ever, EVER find them.
— Unikitty, in The Lego Movie

We are a little late to the game, but a few weeks ago I took my kids to see The Lego Movie at our discount movie theater. We all really enjoyed it, and of course as soon as we got home all the kids wanted to do was play with Lego bricks.

But after we saw the movie, I kept thinking about one character: Unikitty. A resident of Cloud Cuckoo Land, Unikitty (just what she sounds like--a cross between a kitty and a unicorn, a toy marketer's dream come true) is the princess of positive thinking. While exposing the ridiculous nature of our modern ideas of tolerance (see above quote, and her list of rules, all of which start with "no," including "no negativity"--delicious irony), she also teaches us something about the limits of positive thinking.

This is an idea I've been thinking about a lot recently. The women in our church do a monthly chapel service for women at a local addiction recovery center. These women hear a wide range of messages from various church groups and the resources used at the center, and it seems a popular one is the power of positive thinking. Now, I understand that it can be harmful to dwell on the negative, ending up in a pit of dread and doubt. That's not what this is about. This is about the idea that we can control our situation with our thinking.

If you've seen The Lego Movie, you know what I'm talking about. Unikitty repeats her mantra, "Stay positive," over and over, even in the midst of her world literally falling apart. But there is a limit to her ability to stay positive. She has buried those un-happy ideas so far down, but eventually they come up. And boy do they. 

I recently read a quote from a well-known Christian teacher, who was speaking on the topic of attitudes and positive thinking. She said, “A positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances instead of your circumstances having power over you.” 

That sounds really nice. But I know some people who have experienced really intense suffering in their lives, and I'm pretty sure they would not tell us the secret to their not drowning in sorrow was staying positive. If Unikitty has taught us anything, it's that eventually we have to do something with all those feelings we're pushing down.

Let's think about what we see in the Bible. We see people desperate for healing, coming to Christ. Think about the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:25-34) who clutches Jesus’ cloak in utter helplessness, with faith that He alone can heal her. She’s not sitting there putting a positive spin on her situation, saying, “Well, yes, I’ve been bleeding for twelve years and no one can heal me, but I’m going to stay positive and not let it get the best of me. I’m stronger than that.” No! She knows she’s weak, so she runs to the only One who can heal. He gives her the faith to believe, and she truly does believe. 

This story gives me so much comfort, because even though I am not in her extreme situation, I've reached the limit of my positive thinking many times. I am naturally a generally optimistic person, or a "bright-side thinker," as my husband says. But sometimes in my attempts to remain positive, I end up depending on myself, rather than running in faith to my Savior. I am learning to be thankful for His grace in allowing me to reach the end of my rope quickly, because rather than tying a knot and swinging (as the saying goes), I realize I never needed the rope in the first place--He was carrying me all along. 

Today, on this Monday, I'm just so thankful Jesus loves desperate people. 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9