The best gift we can give any time of year is the gift of acceptance. In the famous show, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” Cindy Lou saw a speck of sweetness in the Grinch that no one else saw until she announced it. Because she embraced an outcast, she changed not only his heart, but those of the entire community.
When we welcome instinctual caring, our heart expands and more love flows in and out. The amount of love a heart is capable of giving and receiving is only limited by the walls we create out of fear— fear of letting someone see our tender, vulnerable side—fear of caring too much and getting hurt—just like the Grinch built walls and shrunk his heart because of cruel comments from schoolmates.
The Grinch’s heart may have been two sizes too small, but it was still tucked a bit to the left of his rib cage just like all the Whos in Whoville. If Freud is right and there is no such thing as coincidence, the heart’s position on the feminine side of the body is not by happenstance. Females are notoriously more in-tune with the expressive, nurturing song of the heart than are men—that is, with the exception of Dr. Seuss’s green giant whose name is synonymous with an illuminated holiday heart.
The Grinch’s heart grew to three times its original size just like an athletes enlarges because they work the heart muscle hard. In order to create a healthy heart, we must practice cultivating acceptance.
Mary and Joseph were strangers to the many faces opening and closing the door to them that fateful night of Jesus’ birth. Had the innkeeper not been in touch with his nurturing side, he would have possibly sent Mary and Joseph packing and the divine infant to an undeterminable fate.
Of course, the Infinite who sent Jesus had, no doubt, considered that possibility and had arranged another clandestine location in which the baby would’ve been safely born, but the All-knowing One also had equipped the innkeeper with an accepting, caring heart.
God gave each person the ability to extend that warm-hearted welcome to a stranger like the Innkeeper did to the holy couple—like Cindy Lou did to the Grinch. He gave us the ability to see into the heart of a stranger who is hurting and invite the outcasts into our circle of hay bales and hot apple cider. He gave us the ability to love as many people as deeply as we will permit ourselves to.
Of course, the size of a physical heart doesn’t determine the amount of love or understanding that cultivates within it any more than the size of a germ dictates the amount of damage it can impose on a body. A child’s tiny heart emits as much love as an adult’s much bigger one, and men are as capable of compassion as are women. For this I am thankful. All of humanity benefits when diversity is embraced and outsiders like the Grinch can be accepted for who they are.
Like the sun melts the icicles that drip onto the frozen patches of ground this winter, so too will the warmth from our hearts melt the despair that in grows in the hearts of those who feel there isn’t even a barn in which they are good enough to rest their weary heads. The wisest of men offer gifts from the heart.
Michele Zirkle Marcum is a native of Meigs County, author of “Rain No Evil” and host of Life Speaks on AIR radio.