As a kid, I remember being in awe when Pixar’s Toy Story was released. Never before had I seen such graphics in a cartoon. What impressed my 10-year-old mind was the complexity of the story. To my knowledge at that point, animated movies usually stayed close to the fairy tale template of storytelling: Good battles evil, good triumphs over evil in the end. Toy Story shattered that mold, allowing for characters to have more depth and nuance. One of the more important plotlines was the growing jealousy that Woody the cowboy doll had for Buzz Lightyear the cool Space Ranger action figure. Since kindergarten, Woody had been unrivaled in holding Andy’s affections. However, Buzz Lightyear was newer, and, let’s face it cooler than him, and was instantly thrust into a place of prominence – aka Woody’s prized spot on Andy’s bed. Jealousy begins to grow in Woody’s heart (assuming toys have souls) and leads him to do a terrible, selfish act.
“Listen, Lightsnack. You stay away from Andy. He’s mine, and no one is taking him away from me.”
“What are you talking about? Where’s that bonding strip?
“And another thing. Stop with this spaceman thing! It’s getting on my nerves!”
The writing for Pixar has always been groundbreaking and trendsetting for an animated feature, and I believe this story is no different as it captures very well the heart and mind of a jealous soul. “He’s mine, and no one is taking him away from me.”
Buzz was infringing on what Woody held to be absolute; otherwise, he wouldn’t have spoken in such a manner. Woody’s deepest affections, his self-worth, and even his identity were all tied in his relationship with Andy. He was Andy’s favorite toy, and that was something he wasn’t about to lose – this is a perfect illustration of jealousy. Despite being a cartoon of an anthropomorphic toy, we can still very much relate with poor Woody.
By definition, to be jealous is to be fiercely protective and vigilant for one’s possessions or rights. Woody felt that Andy was his and therefore felt it in his right to be jealous. However, Woody’s possessiveness, insecurity, and fear of losing his position (which he tied to his identity) caused him to commit a horrible act. When anything other than God has a stranglehold on our heart, we too will act out in bitter jealousy.
James 4:1-3 tells us that we fight and quarrel because we have warring passions inside our hearts. When someone wants to come and take what we think is rightfully ours, our bitter jealousy rises. That was what happened to Woody. But what happens when the person who takes away what we believe is ours, is God? Psalm 24:1 says The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein. It is human nature to become full of bitterness when God comes and takes away the sinful identity we have been carving for ourselves.
Jealousy is not inherently wrong — we should be protectors of what God has given us to guard and protect. However bitter jealousy comes from a lack of trust in God and having an identity that is insecurely placed. The questions remain, where do you put your identity and where do you put your faith? Do you make what you do or how you want to be viewed your identity rather than being a new creation in Christ? Do you put your faith in temporary things and are you continually frustrated when they (like all temporal things by definition do) fail to hold the weight of your eternal expectations?
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
Don’t be jealous like Woody, rather trust and find your identity in a living God.