To Infinity, And Beyond!

What Buzz Lightyear Taught Me About Humility


There was movie some years ago that most of you have Buzzprobably seen called Toy Story. It had a deep impact on me, for it came out at a critical moment in my life.

It was my 33rd year of life and the 6th year of my priesthood. As I have related elsewhere, I had suffered a nervous breakdown that required a week in the hospital and a month off to recuperate. What drove me to that point was being asked to take an assignment I really wasn’t ready for. I was asked to pastor a parish that was in serious financial trouble. The stress nearly finished me.

Invincible? I was a young priest at the time, still emerging from my “invincible” stage when I thought I could do anything. I guess it’s pretty common for men in their twenties to think they can handle anything. During those years, opinions are strong, dreams are still vivid, and hard experience has not always taught its tough lessons yet.

So the young priest had said “yes” to the assignment, even though I had reservations. Soon enough, the panic attacks came, followed by waves of depression, and days when I could barely come out of my room.  A week in the hospital for evaluation, a month off to recuperate, and years of good spiritual direction, psychotherapy, and the Sacraments have been God’s way of restoring me to health.

Somewhere in the early stages of all this, I saw the movie Toy Story. And right away, I knew I was Buzz Lightyear. Buzz begins the movie as a brash, would-be hero and savior of the planet. Buzz Lightyear’s tagline is, “To infinity … and beyond!” The only problem is that he seems to have no idea that he is just a toy. He actually thinks he has come from a distant planet to save Earth. He often radios to the mother ship and, hearing nothing, concludes she must be just out of range….

Read the original here

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8 Responses to To Infinity, And Beyond!

  1. toadspittle says:

    Fascinating account.

    Toad had thought it was a priest’s job to give nervous breakdowns – not get them.

    (Only jesting, folks!)

  2. ginnyfree says:

    Oh God bless you for your transparency. You poor man. Hurrah for sharing your life with us on the True Cross. I am glad you got the rest you needed and hope you make retreats a regular part of your Priestly life. There is a wonderful Benedictine Monastery were you can go to take the wrinkles out and it is only for men, Vultus Christi. Might help to visit them and show them where it hurts too. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  3. Brother Burrito says:

    I saw this film about 3000 times. It was my young daughter’s video favourite.

    One line stood out for me: Buzz Lightyear says to Woody with disdain “You’re mocking me, aren’t you”.

    I was given a new boss around this time. He was very polished, accomplished, and full of himself.

    I mocked him. He responded like Buzz. End of story, and illustrious career.

    It had to be done.

  4. toadspittle says:

    Your illustrious career on CP&S is just beginning, Burron. To infinity and beyond!

  5. Very fine, brilliant even – in the way the British use the word “brilliant,” when they want to say that something is terrific, even luminous.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Very moving. Thanks for posting this.

    “The lesson of the movie is a critical one and certainly the lesson I learned in my own mid-life crisis. And the lesson is that our greatness does not come from our own self-inflated notions, but from God. And God does not need us to pretend to be something we are not. What He needs is for us to be exactly what He made us to be. And it is often in our weakness that He is able to do His greatest work.” I wish I could remember this each day.

  7. “And it is often in our weakness that He is able to do His greatest work.” Yes, isn’t this a theme that runs from the thinking of St. Paul to St. Theres of Lisieux and to those even closer to our own day? It really is hard to remember it, but it’s certainly true that we should at least try not to forget. I think that idea is not only humbling, but a source of hope as well.

  8. reinkat says:

    People sometimes tease me about my love of novels–and movies such as the Toy Story series and others, but you have said it perfectly: we can hear God speaking to us from anyplace, even the most unlikely source. I loved this post and your insights.

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