Updated: Jan 1
"Oh, the Who-Manity!" in my best Grinch voice. No, I'm not gonna draw some mind-blowing parallel to Whoville, where Cindy-Lou Who resides. On the other hand, I would like to take you walking through Whoville, where all the Whos are allowed to steal our happiness, leaving us all Grinchy, and we never understand why!
Like the Grinch, I remember having some lonely Christmas'. In fact, our itinerary was near-identical. At 4:00 pm, wallow in self-pity; 4:30 pm, stare into the abyss; 5:00 pm, solve world hunger, tell no one; 5:30 pm, jazzercize; 6:30 pm, dinner with me—I can't cancel that again; 7:00 pm, wrestle with my self-loathing! I'm booked! Of course, if I bump the loathing to 9, I could still be done in time to lay in bed, staring at the ceiling and slip slowly into madness." While that was one of many low points, it wasn't the one where a Grinch stole my Christmas. In fact, until recently, I didn't even realize he did. So, as Dr. Suess would say, "You're off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way."
WELCOME TO MT. CRUMPIT
As women, we give a lot, but we take a lot too, especially in the name of love. I mean, from either side of the fence, we allow the words of our partner to saturate our spirits more than a soul tie—okay, maybe not, but you get my point. Sadly, it can either make us or break us. Sometimes you win but let's be honest; you probably lose so much more. Today's soul searching question, "What did a who in Whoville steal from you?"
In conversation with a friend the other day, we discussed music and how it's not what we remember it to be. You've heard me say it before, but I'll repeat it, I'm a millennial trapped in the mind of a Gen-Xer. Anyway, I proceeded to tell her how new music didn't matter to me because I can't dance. She then asked, and somewhat annoyed I might add, "Why do you always say that? Dancing is relative. You don't have to be a professional to be able to allow yourself to enjoy the music!" She went on quite a tangent about it, too. It was apparent I had said this enough times to her to sit plump on her last nerve. Needless to say, after our conversation, I was mulling over what she had told me. Then it hit me. I didn't always think I couldn't dance, so what in the jingle bells happened? I use to love music, and given an opportunity to hit the floor, I was on it.
I remember being in junior high school, and when the first dance of the semester was called, I was on the line, present, $2 in hand to get inside. In my ignorance is bliss bubble, I never thought my brother, who was in high school at the time, would go home and snitch on me. That was one of our many brother-sister rivals that made me wish I had the chops to back up the threat "Snitches get stitches!" You could bet your bottom dollar a whole bible study lecture ensued. As a preacher's kid, those kinds of behaviours just weren't acceptable. I didn't care; every dance after that, I was still present and accounted for.
I loved music, and it seemed music loved me. To avoid another run-in with the "is thine heart right with God" police, aka my older sisters, I would make myself visible to my father's son. I'd pass his class at least twice before school ended, so he'd think I wasn't in the auditorium doing the butterfly. Even if I only got in 30 minutes of dance time, I was happy. I mean, after all, I had practiced all my moves in the mirror at home, and I wasn't about to miss any opportunity to shake my tail feather.
HORTON HEARS A WHO?
Fast forward to adult me. I was still very much in the church, but that little desire to live on the wild side had not entirely subsided just yet. I had a solid 2 years thereabout in my 20's where I was no stranger to a club or a good backyard party. You better believe I was that one on the dance floor, shoes in hand, having a grand ole time.
Fast forward a little more, and I had begun dating a guy I worked with. It was customary that the year-end Christmas party featured the island's most sought-after DJ. My dance buddy/coworker and I couldn't wait to hit the dance floor. While she was by far a better dancer than me, that didn't stop the show. From Soca to dancehall to reggae to that down-home Bahamian flavour, whew child, we were gonna need some Bengay after this. From that first beat dropped 'til the last nail knocked, it was like Angela and Machel say, "Party Dun." I'm painting this very vivid picture for you because what happens next is so deeply rooted that I believed I made this proclamation on my own. This was the night that I didn't realize the Grinch stole my Christmas."
After the party, bae and I get to the car, and on the drive home, as expected, we were discussing the party. Things like who won awards and the politics behind it all. The nice prizes they had and how some people seem to be born lucky cause they win all the time. Of course, he was reserved, merely sitting and watching the whole night. This was one of those rare relationships where I was the extrovert and the fella the introvert. Anyway, he agreed with me that it was a great party. The food was on point, the ambiance was festive, the music was tight, but "Ahhh Raquel, you do know you can't dance, right?" "Err, now what now?" I was dumbfounded, and I mean speechless. Which even back then was hard to do. "I beg your pardon, Sir?!" No one at any point in my life had ever said this to me. And like I said in a previous blog, I was a liturgical dance princess. All my partners told me for a chubby girl; I could move.
HOLIDAY WHO-BE WHAT-EE?
Needless to say, that night, a seed was planted, and a whole forest grew at warped speed. And now, some 16 years later, the thought of not being a good dancer is a sturdy oak tree. I no longer did something because someone told me I couldn't. So much so that I believed it wholeheartedly, it became one of those things that 'is what it is!'
From then to now, I've not danced again. I never went on another dance floor, and I started finding every excuse not to dance in church. And even when I led worship, to this day, I have a one-two-step because my spirit was paralyzed into believing it couldn't move as it thought it could. If ever the music moved me, I was always sure to give my disclaimer, "Chal, I can't dance, but I like this song!" So that people looking at me won't think I was unaware of my inability. I mean, after all, folks of my pigmentation pride ourselves on our innate oneness with rhythm. Otherwise, it's like that 90's movie assumption that White Men Can't Jump.
Well-beloved, I ask you, "Who has told you, you couldn't do something, and now your life has not flourished?" While dancing is not a life goal or necessity, the lesson in this is how we let people yoke us into being bound by their vision of who we should be and not who we are. Surely I believed this man. After all, we were in love, and he wouldn't lie to me, right? In his defence, cause I'm not bashing him, I'm just gonna chalk this up to youth. Honestly, I don't know if it was a control mechanism or an unbiased opinion. Nonetheless, I allowed his words to take root, grow and cripple me into numbing a part of my innate being.
WHO TOLD YOU THAT?
All this reminded me of Adam when he hid from God. God asked him, "Who told you you were naked?" (Genesis 3:11). So I'm asking you, "Who told you you're trash? Who told you you were unfit to be tied or not wife material? Who told you you'd never find someone to love you or that you are difficult to love? Who told you you're not considerate and that the things you did weren't thoughtful? Who told you they deserve better than you? Who told you you were too fat or not pretty enough? Who told you you're a liability and not an asset? Who told you you're less than amazing? Who told you, you are not good enough or that you simply aren't enough? Who told you you are just like your no-good pa or your wayward ma? Sir, Ma'am, who told you these lies?"
My friend went on to say, "I wish my girls could see the queens they are! You ladies are amazing in every way, yet you'll let mediocre dudes dull you'll shine!" Whew, child, she was the Sassy Scribe that day, and I, needed to have several seats in the corner! I understood every word she said because I'd be that person saying all this to someone else. Isn't that just like us to not know the treasure we are inside, but it takes someone from the outside looking in to remind us of our worth? I'm not saying be arrogant and think you are unflawed. I'm saying know who you are. Eve was made in absolute perfection. I mean taken from the rib of the man. Talk about if soul mate and my rib was a person. Yet she let some slick-talking vermin tell her she needed to be more than she already was.
Hear me, if you've never heard me before, regardless of what 'tingum-ma-bob' told you, you are a-ma-zing. Fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14-16). If you know you've been the best you could be a dude or chick, they can unfriend you, block you, avoid you, but hunnay, they can't un-remember you. Now, you'll know I am an equal opportunity fusser. If you were the worst, they still can't un-remeber you. Decide which indelible mark you're gonna leave.
WHAT'S THAT, STENCH? IT'S FANTASTIC!
I'm sorry that today's piece is not about Christmas in a conventional sense; hey, I'm not wired regular. All I came to do is remind you why Jesus even had to be born. His display of love through His sacrifice was too great for you to allow someone else to destroy the value and gift He's placed on and within us. Look here, unwrap the gift of 'you' this Christmas. Reintroduce yourself to yourself. Like Grinchy said, "It came without ribbons, it came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store. Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." Go 'head and fall in love with Jesus this Christmas, and I promise, Who-manity won't have a chance to steal anything that's a 'must' from you.