The Grinch: A Different Perspective
I spent a couple of hours in the waiting room of an urgent care the other day and sat through the film How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I’ve seen the animated show dozens of times, but I’d never seen the film before. After becoming a believer, the story took on a new meaning for me. I saw the grumpy old Grinch as an unredeemed sinner, and his heart-changing epiphany as his experience of being born again. But as I watched the film version, I began seeing it through yet another set of eyes.
In the film, Cindy Lou Who had an encounter with the Grinch, who had gained a reputation among the residents of Whoville for being a hateful ogre. None of the Whos had ever bothered inquiring as to why he had developed that reputation. In one scene, Cindy became the victim of the Grinch’s cruelty, but then, most unexpectedly, the old sourpuss showed mercy toward her. And she was left with an experience that didn’t jive with the narrative she’d always believed about him. It made her wonder—if the Grinch were incapable of doing anything good, as she had always been told, why then did he do something so kind toward her?
Cindy wanted to know the truth so she began digging into the Grinch’s history. She scoured the town, interviewing all the Whos that had grown up with him. Then she stumbled upon a story that was almost too bizarre to be true. Apparently, when the Grinch was a boy, one of the popular girls had a crush on him. But another boy had a crush on her, and this boy, out of insecurity and envy, did everything in his power to publicly humiliate the Grinch so that the girl would see him as a failure and turn her affections elsewhere. It was at this point—when he was bullied and made the laughingstock of the town—that the Grinch’s life began to fill with darkness.
And then it hit me.
Like most of us, the Grinch became a victim of the spirit of rejection, which preys upon those who are told they’re not smart enough, not pretty enough or in some way, just not good enough. This voice reminded the Grinch daily of how he didn’t measure up, how hated he was and how he would never be loved or accepted. Seeing himself as a failure, he chose a life of solitude, thinking it better to live alone than risk further insult from those who did not love or appreciate him. But the Grinch wasn’t the only victim of emotional trauma in this story.
The Whos held an annual competition for the best holiday lighting display. Two women, Martha May and Betty Lou, took the competition to an insane level, pulling out all the stops because they wanted to win the contest more than anything in the world. Just when Betty Lou thought victory was in her grasp, the judge—in an attempt to gain favor with her more buxom competitor—ignored the decision of the Whos and named Martha May the winner. The unfairness left Betty Lou’s heart broken and bleeding.
What kind of person places such high value on a mere contest?
Someone who has suffered so much rejection that she’s decided she must find acceptance not through friendships, but through her accomplishments.
The Who that caused the Grinch so much suffering as a boy, was himself a victim of the spirit of rejection. One can only imagine how many times he must have been told he was a failure. One way to silence the voice of an accuser is to try to prove them wrong. So the boy grew up to be the Mayor of Whoville. Holding an important office gave him a sense of accomplishment. He needed it, for on the inside, he was terribly wounded. And his wounds caused him to doubt his value to the world and that made him lash out at others in acts of deception and cruelty. It was the mayor who switched winners in the contest, breaking Betty Lou’s heart.
I’d like to share one final illustration from a different story:
Cain killed his brother because his sacrifice was rejected and—misinterpreting the rejection of his sacrifice as personal rejection by God—he killed the one whose sacrifice was found acceptable. Cain was also wounded by the spirit of rejection. It’s only because we are wounded ourselves that we wound others.
The bad news is that we are all wounded in one way or another. The good news is that we don’t need to remain that way. If Christmas is to be a time of peace on earth and good will toward men, it may require the healing of our emotional wounds. One of the things prophesied about the child Mary would give birth to is that He would carry upon Himself our griefs and sorrows. Have you ever wondered what that means?
It means we can give Him our griefs and sorrows and receive His healing.
May your Christmas be filled with joy and healing,
p.s. If you need more information about emotional healing, I wrote a short book about it.