“This is what we get for listening to a little, good-for-nothing GIRL.”
Christmas movies are one of my favorite parts of Christmas, and every year “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is a must-see for me. Political discourse as to whether the Jim Carrey or the cartoon version is the best aside (but -- for real -- we all know it’s the JC version), the Mayor of Whoville’s tirade against Cindy Lou Who always gripped my heart. The town has awoken to the realization that Christmas has officially been stolen, and the Mayor is unleashing on poor Cindy who only wanted to extend love and acceptance towards the most unloved citizen of Whoville.
We all suffer from gremlins -- those nasty voices inside our heads that tell us a variety of things and usually come in the form of an “I” statement:
I am not smart enough.
I am not strong enough.
I am not pretty enough.
I am not skinny enough.
I am a terrible mother.
I didn’t go to the right school.
I am too young.
I am too old.
I am too much of a minority.
I am not where I’m supposed to be in life.
I do not fit in.
I am unloveable.
I am ______________.
And my personal “favorite”: I do not matter. For decades, the dialogue ran rampant in my brain. “Why should I say what I’m actually thinking? People probably won’t listen.” “See how that guy glossed over you during that networking event? He can tell just by looking at you that you don’t bring anything to the table.” “Why are you spending so much time and energy fighting injustice? It won’t matter, because on earth the bad guys always win.”
My gremlin even cleverly cloaked himself in humility. “I’ll sit at one of the seats around the perimeter of the room and leave the seats at the conference table for the important people.” And my interpretations of certain interactions provided all the proof my nasty gremlin needed to reinforce his terrible messages. Rather than giving the benefit-of-the-doubt and assuming an un-returned morning greeting was a complete accident, my gremlin chided at me: “See? You’re so inconsequential you don’t even deserve a ‘hello’ back.”
This inner struggle often left me feeling like I didn’t have a voice, and these thoughts would inadvertently impact my actions. I spoke up less. When I did speak up, I sandwiched that difficult conversation I knew we needed to have between soft, cushy buns made of affirmations that took some of the sting -- and some of the effectiveness -- away. Over time, I grew resentful, because deep down I knew I wasn’t representing myself as the person God created me to be: someone who loves loving on people, loves seeking justice, and loves connecting with others in the midst of struggle.
God’s word says you are His child (John 1:12), built to bear much fruit (John 15:1, 5), freed from slavery (Gal 5:1), bold and confident (Eph 3:12), and built with a mighty purpose that only you can accomplish (Eph 2:10).
I know there have been times I didn’t greet that person for fear of yet another rejection. But when I think back on times when I felt really low, I know a simple “hey, how are ya?” would have meant the world to me. What blessing was I robbing that person of by choosing to listen to my gremlin and stay silent?
But ignoring the gremlin is much easier said than done. And I know I often struggle getting my heart to accept the truth that I intellectually already know. A powerful tool you can employ to overcome your own gremlins -- ‘cause yes, you can have more than one -- is to change the relationship you have with them.
1. Recognize the gremlin is not YOU. It isn’t part of your mind, heart, or soul, and God did NOT create you with a gremlin. It is a nasty seed planted in your brain that -- often times unfortunately -- we water, feed, and fertilize ourselves. (And girl, you best believe I was feeding mine the best dang Miracle Gro I could find FOR YEARS.) It is the enemy trying to keep you small and make you ineffective.
2. Give the gremlin a name. Might sound crazy, but trust me on this one. Just don’t give it the name of someone you know, ‘cause that could complicate future interactions with that person. I chose to name mine “The Mayor of Whoville” or “Mr. Mayor” for short, because that guy embodies every quality I do NOT want.
3. Identify what God-given values your gremlin tries to stifle. Cindy Lou Who spends the entire movie on a quest to figure out the real meaning of Christmas. She shows grace, love, and acceptance to the repulsive Grinch, because she believes deep down that we all need and deserve some love. It isn’t until after the town loses everything that they realize Christmas isn’t about the gifts, and their eyes are opened to the treasures they have in the form of their family, health, and abundance. And to my glee, Cindy’s bravery even inspires others to be their most authentic selves! Martha May Who -- the most beautiful woman in town -- effectively dumps the Mayor when she returns his engagement ring. And she does so in order to be with the man she truly loves: the “hideoderous” Grinch! The Grinch’s heart grows three sizes after finally moving past some childhood pain, and he’s warmly accepted by the Whoville community. Meanwhile, the Mayor makes zero appearances the rest of the movie. (Bye, Felicia!)
4. Choose to live those values. In those moments when that gremlin sneaks up on you, call him out by name and rebuke him in the name of Jesus. God’s word says you have been given access to the same power as God used to raise Jesus from the grave (Rom 8:11) -- use it! Calling him out reinforces the separation…that your gremlin is not YOU. And it helps remind yourself of how you want to show up in the world. With time and practice, it'll get easier.
As for me, I choose to be like Cindy. Brave, encouraging, inquisitive, challenging the status quo, powerful. Because that’s how God built me, and it’s when I behave in alignment with those values that joy abounds -- even in the midst of difficult circumstances -- and I feel like the truest and most authentic version of myself.
So ladies…what Gremlin do you need to kick to the curb today? Message me if you need help!
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures