Lessons From “Forky”


Last weekend we took a risk and decided to make an attempt at taking our three year-old son to his first movie in the movie theaters. He was familiar with the characters from Toy Story and ended up being captivated and charmed by seeing the story on the big screen. He was also quite taken with the popcorn.

For me, one of the strengths of Disney/Pixar films is their ability to appeal to children and adults alike. In this particular movie, I was especially struck by the character of “Forky.” In the beginning of the story, we watch as Bonnie (the proud new owner of Woody and friends from Toy Story 3) creates “Forky” – a homemade toy made from a plastic fork and other scraps salvaged from the trash in a kindergarten classroom. Bonnie is not only proud of her inventive creation, but also becomes quite attached to Forky and considers him to be her new favorite toy.

Forky is loved like a toy, played with and snuggled with like a toy, and included amongst the other beloved toys in Bonnie’s collection. Yet, he is extremely hesitant to live out his new identity, continuing to insist that he is trash—so much so that Woody is on constant alert to keep him from returning to the waste basket when Bonnie is asleep or not looking. Despite being formed into a new creation and given a new name, Forky struggles to accept the fact that he is no longer garbage.

At first, this choice seems confusing.  Why would anyone run to the trash—their old identity—and not embrace the joy of being made new and living free? This is my question until I realize that I too struggle to step into the new identity that Christ has given me. 

Our pain can be surprisingly comfortable. The labels we’ve lived under for far too long can be difficult to peel off. The messages we’ve received and adopted about our identity and sense of safety are often challenging to reverse. We are called “beloved” but we maintain that we are forever broken. We are called “adopted” but we insist that we are alone. Some of us are convinced that we are too far gone—that we are the ones that grace could never change. Others of us have refused to accept that Jesus has already purchased our freedom. We wrestle with the need to fix ourselves and remain committed to earning our own way.

But I’m reminded over and over again that to refuse to embrace our new identity—the truth about who we are—is to deny the reality that Jesus was stripped so that we could be clothed in the newness of Christ. And because of Jesus’ sacrifice, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can take off the “old self” and put on the new (Ephesians 4:20-24). We can live loved and free.

Maybe you don’t run toward the trashcan and say, “I’m trash!” But my guess is that many of us have old identities—lies about who we are—that we are tempted to return to again and again. My prayer for all of us is that we would look at Christ’s finished work and remember that our hope is not in fixing ourselves, but rather in focusing our gaze to a Savior who fixed Himself to a cross. This is where we find the courage to embrace our new name and live as a new creation.