Why My Son is So Mad at Pinocchio

For years, my son was mad at Pinocchio.

(Yes, I’m referring to the fictional wooden puppet characterized in the classic children’s novel and animated Disney movie.)

You couldn’t even utter Pinocchio’s name in our house without eliciting harsh words and opening up tender wounds from Brandon. He was visibly hurt – deeply.

You’re probably wondering, “What heinous act could Pinocchio possibly have committed to produce SIX years of hurt and hostility in the heart of my child?”

During a trip to Disneyland when my son was three, Pinocchio took Brandon’s beloved blankie. No, he didn’t steal it. There was nothing malicious about it. Pinocchio simply admired it, borrowed it to cuddle with for a few seconds and gently returned it.

To Brandon, however, Pinocchio broke the cardinal toddler rule: Never ever EVER touch the blankie of a three-year-old! This was a direct infringement on his personal space and property and Brandon was resolute in his determination NOT to let it go.

It was quite a problem. For years, this is how our conversations would go…

“Brandon, why won’t you forgive Pinocchio?” 

“He took my blankie.” 

“Pinocchio didn’t really take your blankie. He was just showing you how much he loved it.”

“I don’t like him and I don’t forgive him.”

Finally, while on a trip to Disney World many years later, Brandon decided it was about time to end his six-year feud with the wooden puppet and extend forgiveness to Pinocchio. He’d let his anger stew long enough and needed to let it go, move on and enjoy our time at Disney World.

With nervous determination, he entered the park.

Believe it or not, amidst the thousands of people at the Magic Kingdom, amidst all of the characters to meet, Pinocchio was at the park entrance greeting eager Disney goers. After waiting patiently in line, Brandon explained to Pinocchio how upset he had been and how the whole blankie incident had really affected him.

Pinocchio seemed unaware of his offense while Brandon was talking to him, but graciously, he played along. After a few seconds together, Brandon and Pinocchio hugged, amends were made and off we went to enjoy a wonderful day at the park.

Why is forgiveness so hard sometimes? Why do we seem to find more pleasure in holding onto the offense than letting go of it?

A funny thing about our anger is sometimes it doesn’t even hurt the other person. In fact there are times, as in our case with Pinocchio, the person didn’t even know they hurt us!

But we’re the ones who suffer. Stomping around for days (perhaps years), clenching our jaw when a person’s name is mentioned, hosting imaginary conversations in our heads, hoping for the chance to “give them a piece of our mind”, secretly wanting them to fail, as we wait around for an apology that may never even come.

For a while, it may feel good to hold onto the anger, to nurse the grudge. But slowly, unexpectedly, unforgiveness will kill us, rotting us from the inside out like a cancer choking life from our bodies.

Years ago, I remember an incident when a close friend really hurt me. As time passed, I really thought I had forgiven her, but every time her name came up, I felt anger and frustration rise. Every time I talked about the incident to my husband, I would start to tear up. I had a hard time watching her succeed – secretly wanting her to keep all of her pregnancy weight on.

Clearly, I still had work to do on my heart.

The apostle Paul knew the danger unforgiveness had in a person’s heart and in a community. His instruction to the Ephesian church was strong,

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4_31-32

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Paul didn’t talk about anger management or manipulating our behavior; he said, get rid of it – all of it. Just like you get rid of your trash and get rid of the rotting food in your refrigerator, get rid of your bitterness, rage and anger.

I’d like to think that by taking the trash out of my house once, I would never have to do it again. The reality is that I have to continually do the work of removing spoiled food and smelly garbage from my home.


Forgiveness requires us to bring our hurt before God, to confront the pain in our heart, to deal with our emotions and to choose to not hold someone’s past over them.


And again tomorrow.

And again the next day.

As long as it takes until the weight is lifted.

Dear friend, this is the work of forgiveness. It’s not a one and done prayer; it’s a daily work of tending your heart. And when you do this work, you’re able to breathe a little deeper, rest a little better and walk a whole lot lighter.

Forgive so you can be free again. Forgive so you can feel clean again. Forgive so you can have your life back. It’s so worth it.

Contagiously Clean

While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 13 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. Luke 5:12-13

Leprosy is a horrible disease that affects the skin destroys the nerve endings, making its victim unable to feel anything. Sores break out on the skin and when they begin to ulcerate, the smell is horrible. Those diagnosed with leprosy were declared “unclean” in the Jewish culture, and because leprosy was contagious, those who contracted it were forbidden to live in the community. They were considered outcasts and even those who touched them would also be considered unclean.

In this Bible story, Luke tells us that this man was covered in leprosy. Imagine the disfigurement. Sense the stench coming from his body. Feel the fear that gripped people as they saw this man enter the community, their community – a community filled with their children and the people they loved. And this man had the audacity to enter their midst, with his body decaying and oozing leprosy in their town.

What would you do? How would you treat this man? Honestly, I would grab my kids and run. Sadly, I don’t think I would even try to be kind or compassionate; I’d be more concerned about staying away from him.

Most likely this man was used to rude treatment, insensitive comments, fearful gazes and people shrinking back in his presence. He had lived as an outcast, rejected by society, a disgrace to his family, and shunned in the Jewish culture.

In desperation, as a last resort, this man musters a shred of hope and cries out to Jesus, “If you are willing…”

Notice that he didn’t say, “If you are able…” This man knew rejection. He wore the scars of shame. He lived in the shadows as an outcast—unloved, unwanted, unaccepted and avoided by people. His concern wasn’t in Christ’s ability. It was Jesus’ willingness to help him.

Would Jesus help someone like me?

Could Jesus love – or even kinda care about – someone like me?

And Jesus responds by touching him.

What a tender moment Luke captures! Jesus touched the man before he cleansed him. He drew near to this man while he was still unclean, still an outcast, still unacceptable, still avoided by society. Jesus identifies with him by becoming unclean himself before He heals him.

Is your story any different? Not really. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul reminds us that

God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

It is in our uncleanliness, in our pain, in our ugliness that Jesus extends His love to cleanse and heal our lives. In our awkwardness and feeling alienated from God, Jesus reaches out to us and does a beautiful thing.

He becomes sin for us, sharing our pain, taking the burden of our shame upon Himself.

Sin, like leprosy, isolates us, cloaking us in shame. Even more importantly, it isolates us from God. It’s highly contagious – running unrestrained and rampant in our world like chicken pox in an elementary school.

Shame tells us that what we’ve done is too bad to be forgiven, that our mistakes are irreparable and our failures are unrecoverable. Shame whispers to us that our lives are beyond repair.

But to the contrary, Jesus is contagiously clean. Anything He touches is restored. Anything in His presence is transformed, made holy, righteous and whole. In His light, the darkness of shame begins to recede, making way for truth. Pure, hope-full, grace-filled truth!

Our failures become opportunities for growth, our mistakes are forgiven, leaving us to experience His abundant grace generously, and undeservedly poured out to us.

You don’t have to shrink back in fear; you no longer have to live isolated, bound by sin and cloaked in shame.

You don’t have to doubt God’s willingness to cleanse you.

In Christ, you are clean.

What fear, failure or feeling of shame keeps you from believing the truth that, in Christ, you are clean?

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7