I really hate crying, especially in public. I’m not what you would call a “pretty crier”. Nope. I go from “ok” to snorting, snotting, and turning a a lovely shade of grape in about five seconds. Sometimes, it just hits me unexpectedly. Like, when I’m at a movie with all four of my kids, watching “The Grinch that Stole Christmas”. Yep. I’m that girl.
I tend to notice the inconspicuous, somewhat unremarkable attributes of my surroundings. When others are engrossed in the movie, my mind tends to wander. I notice the intricacies of digital theatre and marvel at things like the detail of the snow covering the Grinch’s bright green, hairy foot. Hey, we’re all a little weird, but I’ve just grown to accept mine and be ok with it.
I also hear the laughter throughout the theatre when Max digs himself into the snow when the Grinch snaps the reigns of his large sled and commands him to “mush”. More than the comedic relief, I see the friend in Max who’s willing to love the Grinch, despite how unkind and unfair he treats him.
I notice the businessman beside me with his glass of wine, bag of popcorn, and forlorn face as he hears my children giggle and laugh. I wonder what brought him there and why there wasn’t anyone accompanying him. I wonder what his story was and what brought him to that place.
I notice my daughter’s eyes grow ten times larger than normal when she sees the hurt behind the meanness of the Grinch. She connected with the pain, not the act of unkindness. Proof that I’m not screwing her up (completely). That’s a win for this momma.
I felt the tears when the Grinch watched his reindeer leave him when being reunited with his family, because at the heart of every misperception, mislead opinion, and act of unkindness is hurt. The Grinch focused all of his free time, energy, and efforts towards destroying Christmas because he never healed from the one thing that hurt him the most- being forgotten on one Christmas day as a child. The resentment and anger built up and made him hard towards others, isolated him from people, and creating unhealthy habits to satisfy the desire for what he truly desired: to be known.
He overate, used the only friend he had, constructed inventions to suck up toys, pouch lights, steal garland, and destroy everything about Christmas. The one thing that began changing his cold heart was Cindy Lou-hoo telling him if he simply closed his eyes and sang around the town tree it could erase all sadness. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get that little girl and her words out of his head. Yet he still went from house to house, pillaging all that he could fit on his sleigh.
Meanwhile, back in Hooville, even when everything was gone, he could still hear the people in town singing. No matter how much he stole, the Grinch couldn’t steal the true meaning of Christmas. He didn’t understand, didn’t they know what he had done? How could they still find joy?
Then the miracle happened...
The voices from Hooville grew in strength and volume, swelling the heart of the Grinch with soft, unexpected surprise. He began to heal, change, and feel again.
The end of the story is the best. He did a 180 and found what he needed most: friendship, love, and joy. He stopped dreading life and began to celebrate it. It’s when his heart softened that he saw his wrong doing. It’s when his self-awareness drove him to ask forgiveness from those he isolated himself from; those he thought wouldn’t forgive or accept him, for stealing Christmas and being unkind for so many years.
But he was wrong. They didn’t reject him. They accepted him. Even though he stole Christmas, that little girl that shifted his perspective came knocking at his door, inviting him to Christmas dinner, regardless of the hurt he tried to cause.
At that moment, I noticed the smiles on everyone’s faces around me as they left the theatre. Their hearts grew just a little bit bigger because of the Grinch’s story, as did mine. Cue the ugly crying. So embarrassing. I saw how the Grinch’s story touched each and every one of theirs. I couldn’t help but be moved by how beautiful that was.
There’s a beauty in the story of the Grinch, much like the journey of life. We might not always see the reasoning behind the hurt and the pain but we can hold on to the promise of hope and redemption through Jesus.
The Grinch got lost in the pain of his past. It robbed him of joy, love, and relationship. But to regain the loss he had to confront the past. That took courage and a ton of vulnerability. He had to push past the fear of being rejected to receive the things he desired the most. He had to acknowledge hurt when it would’ve been easier to ignore. He had to exchange selfishness for relationship, and that took self-awareness and the desire for change.
There’s a lot of lessons to be learned from the Grinch’s story, but the one that speaks loudest to me was hope. Even when reconciliation seemed impossible, there was still hope for redemption. If we are willing to soften our hearts to others, listen and seek out the answers from Him, we will be healed from our past and gifted what we desire the most: acceptance, love, and intimacy.
I challenge you to lean in to the uncomforts of the healing process, open your heart up to others (no matter how scary), and walk into the unknowns of vulnerability. The result will grow the size of your heart ten times the size you’d ever imagine. We all have similar stories to the Grinch, and so many of us are moved by it. From the businessman, to the child, to the parent ugly crying next to them, we all find ways to connect to his story. Start by recognizing what it took the Grinch so long to identify: you are worthy of joy, you are more than enough and capable to overcome your past, and you are deserving of intimate relationship.
Happy December friends!
Motherhood isn’t for the faint-of-heart and if we aren’t careful, it can wear us out more than it builds us up. These five verses have helped me grow as a mother with every stage of childhood I’ve been through thus far, which to this date, has been an 8 yr old, 6 yr old, 4 yr old, and a 2 yr old. I've crawled my way to bed at night wondering what in the wide world I was thinking when I let my husband impregnate me not once, not twice, not thrice, but FOUR times. Then there were other nights I went to bed deliriously happy and with a full heart, but it usually occurred after multiple glasses of wine OR a night without my kids.
I wanted to live somewhere in between those two norms and possibly with a little less wine, mommy had a lot of headaches. It started with my mindset. It needed to shift, desperately. These four verses and truths help me be a better mom, a better wife, friend, and individual. I hope they help you. Actually, I hope they make you cry, with relief, a couple of belly-laughs, and the feeling of not being alone. Cause you're not momma- I hear you and I'm walking this road of parenthood with you. From one momma to another, if you don't read any further than this, know you're one of many taking it one day at a time (or even a minute, depending on if you have a toddler or infant that requires a boob in their mouth so often you wonder why you even put on a shirt, or constant guarding from the possibility of death with every second of the day.)
So lets get started, cause I know you don't have much time:
1. Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
I don’t know if you realized this yet, but you were hand-picked by God to raise the child growing inside of you. There is no other person on this earth that could do it better than you. Fear-based isn’t holy-spirit based. Trust that God will deliver you and your child out of any trial.
When my daughter was only 18 months old, she was bitten by a dog while sitting on our front porch. The attack left her with 22 stitches on her little face and an emotional wound larger than the physical one. For the longest time, I parented her out of fear, keeping her from anything that could potentially hurt her. There wasn’t a safe enough slide, calm enough animal to pet, or babysitter qualified enough to watch her. It took time and prayer to realize I was robbing her of enjoying the simple things inher life and mine. I had to let go of the “what ifs” and trust enough to start saying, “why not”?
2. Psalm 127: 3-4, “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth."
Your children will be the greatest joy of your life. You will love them like no other person on the planet, even in the most trying moments. This isn’t easy when your toddler is throwing a tantrum in the store because you won’t let her buy that block of blue cheese she doesn’t even like (how dare you).
Side note, there will always be an older woman that will see your children throwing the most epic tantrums and choose to remind you that these will be the days that you miss, right smack dab when you’re about to threaten all the spankings and timeouts. Don’t hit her, just nod and walk away, because we all know, that even though kids are loved, these moments are not the times we’d like to be reminded of what we’ll miss. The only thing we miss in those moments are silence and days when we didn’t wear yoga pants as our “work attire”.
Remind yourself of the good moments at the end of the day. Sometimes it’s a tiny giggle, a quick snuggle, or an unexpected hug that make all the rest of the stress float away. Give yourself a break, a glass of wine, and a bubble bath. You deserve it!
3. Psalm 112:7, “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”
It’s inevitable that our kids will disappoint us. No matter how many times we tell them not to do something, they won’t always listen. This isn’t a reflection of your faults, but a normal part of development, for both of you. When we approach our children with a steadfast love, like our heavenly father, they learn to trust instead of fear us and that’s what will win their little hearts.
4. Philippians 4:6-8, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”
I don’t care if you’ve heard this a million times, from your grandma to your momma to your pastor, I’m gonna say it again, PRAY. Parenthood will make you say and do things you never thought possible. You’ll be left more confused at what you say than what they do, but when it all comes down to it, praying through it all is what will get you through it. It will deepen your relationship with Jesus and your children.
Let’s face it mommas, there’s a lot of truth in, “if momma ain’t happy, no one is”. We are the glue that binds our homes. When we stay strong, so does our family. Lean heavy on your maker. Guard yourselves with His word and ground yourself in its truth.