She’s an Angry Elf


Elf is a well-loved film about a man who thinks he’s a Christmas elf. If you know the movie, you are probably smiling right now. If not, then you are shaking your head and wondering where this is going. Stay with me for a bit, I’ll explain.

There is a point in the film where Buddy, the man-elf, bursts into a business meeting at a publishing company. At that meeting, he  unfortunately and unknowingly, but also humorously,insults a well-known creator of children’s books.

As the man gets angrier and angrier, Buddy makes the understatement of the movie “He’s an angry elf!” 

Today I’m an angry elf. I was on the subway in Boston enjoying the sounds of languages from around the world. I recognized Haitian, Hindi, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, and English. These are not tones or sounds that alienate me. Instead, I feel completely at home. I am not intimidated and I don’t care that I don’t understand – though I do try and follow the conversations in Arabic and Hindi.

So I decided to put my happy feelings onto that both hated and loved medium – Facebook. I wrote this:

Sitting on the subway in Boston listening to conversations all around me in Hindi, Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic, Haitian, and English. This is America.

It was a happy, what I thought was a non-political post. But in our world of divisions and politics, it wasn’t perceived the way I intended. Instead, someone questioned the legality of the people on the subway — those that I was listening to.

And – whether right or wrong – I felt angry. Then, the angrier I got, the more I found to be angry about.

My friends – I am an angry elf. 

I have written below a “Woe to us” piece. I say ‘us’ because for every sin I see in others, I have five more. There are times when I think I should be silent and shut up; times when I need to sit back and pray more. And right after I publish this piece? That will be a time when I need to sit back and pray more. But right now, I need to speak up.

Woe to us who support foreign missions and pray for those across the sea, but don’t invite those who are foreign to share our bread and drink our tea. 

Woe to us who think that our skin color gives us a special dispensation of grace.

Woe to us who spend money on Angel Tree and Christmas Boxes, and yet hate the people who receive them. 

Woe to us who defend evil and dress it in riches and expensive clothing. 

Woe to us who make our nations and leaders into gods and idols, and bow and pledge our souls to those idols. 

Woe to us who hold truth in our hearts, but never hold it up as a mirror to convict us. 

Woe to us who grow fat with with the Word, while others are starving. 

Woe to us – when we withhold grace, when we bask in self-righteousness, when we see ourselves as better than others. 

Woe to me – the angry elf. For I must repent. And I don’t want to. 

May God save us from ourselves. 

And a Happy U.S. Thanksgiving.

To add a lighter note – my friend Karen reminded me of some of the best lines in the film. 

“We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.”

 “This place reminds me of Santa’s Workshop! Except it smells like mushrooms and everyone looks like they want to hurt me.”

The Power of Words

I am grateful to my friend, Parry, for these beautiful and wise words of poetry. Parry is a Muslim woman who lives in Kuwait. 

Of all weapons, the most lethal a potent poison, extremely fatal more dangerous than guns or swords

Such is the power held by words.

Words can blind and they can deceive, entangle the mind, webs of lies weave,

till truth merges with fiction’s blight and is lost forever to reason and sight.

Fiery words spewed, used to propogate cloud the thoughts, spread such hate,

Inciting passions tear minds asunder, leading to wars, genocide and murder.

So be on your guard, beware of words,

Not all is true that’s spoken and heard.

The Value in a Good Vent


The Value in a Good Vent by Robynn

There are times when I feel I might explode! I’m furious. I’m so mad I might just this once really lose it. I had one of those times a month or so ago. I was so angry I was spitting nails.

Just as quickly as the storm clouds gathered, and piled up on top of each other in varying shades of black and gray and green, and the lightning flashed three times, a blaze of fury across the sky, and the thunder cracked her whip across the elements. Just as quickly as all that my rage was over. My storm passed. The sun came out. The clouds cleared. My emotional barometer found its normal center and I was fine.

What changed? You might ask. Absolutely nothing! I found relief through the simple power of the vent.

On that particular weekend my sister-in-law hosted another garage sale. It’s the second one of the season. There’s been a lot of family treasures (read: “junk”) to sort through and find homes for (read: “get rid of ” or “trash”). Death and moving have a way of forcing those issues. My sister-in-law has taken a major lead in organizing the stuff, cleaning it, dragging it into town, pricing it and laying it out to sell. It’s a huge amount of work and I’m very grateful. My mother in law and I drove over to look through the stuff before it sold. Mom wanted to see if there was anything she actually wanted. I wanted to claim the canning jars.

The day before the sale mom informed me that she was actually thinking of selling the jars. I was a little taken aback. She had promised me those jars for months. I’m the only one in the family who still cans. I make jam. I can peaches, apples and pears. I really had my eye on those jars.
That little moment sent my blood pressure rising. It really wasn’t a big deal but in the moment I felt like it was. It’s not that I don’t already have a lot of jars–just ask Sarah and Jill who helped me pack them for the move. But I had been promised those jars and I wanted them. There’s been a lot of letting go of these things lately, a thousand little sacrifices. The canning jars represented something bigger, clearly, given my over-reaction to the possibility of not getting them.

Everything changed in a short little moment in the kitchen. Lowell, calm and collected, heard my outrage. Like a sponge he soaked it in as fast as I could pour it out. My angst and anger splashed all over him. He listened with sympathy. He didn’t offer any advice. He entered into my emotion without dismissing me. He quietly asked if there was anything I wanted him to do in response. There wasn’t. I just needed to vent.

And then it was essentially over! Speaking it out loud I realized it wasn’t a big deal at all. I saw my response from a healthy distance. I could see a way through and passed the jars.

There is great power in a simple short vent. Like a pressure cooker releases steam and pressure, the vent relieves emotional stream and pressure before it can buildup. You only have to have your pressure cooker blow up one time to know it’s not ideal to have boiling hot kidney beans, tomato sauce and onions coming out of a small space at high speeds from the stove and all over your kitchen ceiling and then down the walls and on to the floor. It’s worth avoiding at all costs. Venting prevents explosions.

Lowell has recently been training to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in the court system. At one of their last classes the instructor encouraged them to seek out their supervisor should they feel the need to vent. They might process generally and vaguely with their spouse but a nitty-gritty true vent should be reserved for the safe confidentiality preserving space a supervisor could provide. I was curious that they respected and saw the benefit and power of a vent.

If you feel it building inside you– if you feel cracks forming in your thinly veiled veneer–if you feel the pressure pounding inside your person–Seek out a safe person who will listen without judgment, someone who doesn’t fan the drama into higher flames, someone who doesn’t speak folly disguised as wisdom. If such a person doesn’t exist it doesn’t mean you don’t have venting options. Talk to your dog. Pour out your heart to your cat. Get a notebook, preferably spiral bound, that can take the beating, and write it down. Get it out. Set it down. Step back from it. Walk around it. See your angst from another angle.

There is great value in a veritable vent. Somehow, mysteriously, it changes the emotional barometer. Storms pass, winds change direction. Life calms. A level lived life resumes after the vent!

Do you find value in a good vent? Would love to hear from you in the comments! 

Picture Credit:

Blind Rage

There are times when the bite of anger is so real and so piercing, that my only response is to rant and write.

On December 16th in New Delhi, India a 23-year-old female physiotherapy student was gang raped.

Today she died of the injuries sustained during that rape.

And I am in a blind rage. I rage at the men – the perpetrators of this act. I rage at the police, the collaborators by making the woman feel as though she was in the wrong, I rage at a world that allows this to happen. I grow sick as I think of the event, nauseated as I hear her screams in my mind.

More than anything I weep. I’ve been following the story, desperately hoping for a good outcome, desperately praying for a miracle.

But early morning in a hospital in Singapore where she was flown to receive treatment this woman, this young woman student with her life ahead of her, died, surrounded by her family.

I am caught once again between two worlds – the world I see around me shouts of evil, sin, broken systems, political oppression, power, rape, horror; the other world whispers that we are made for something so much better, created for so much more, made in the image of God to glorify Him.

My Christmas tree twinkles bright lights, Oxford carols are playing on a near broken CD player, I try and shield myself from the horror I feel.

And my blind rage is because I feel caught between these two, knowing I am not innocent myself, longing for wrong to be made right, wishing that this woman was home safe eating a curry with her family. And I wonder did the love of God reach down to her particular Hell?

They say she died “peacefully”.

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