Where the Wild Things Are: Facing our Monsters

...The wild things cried, “Oh please don’t go – we’ll eat you up – we love you so!”

And Max said, “No!”

The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth 
and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws but Max stepped 
into his private boat and waved goodbye.
-Maurice Sendak from Where the Wild Things Are

I have always loved children's books, even after they were no longer appropriate for my reading level. The pictures drew me back to a world of imagination, magic, and wonder. I still wander into the children's section of my local bookstores and run my hands across old favorites and new discoveries. When a friend's child has a birthday, there is no greater joy or privilege than to introduce them to my old friends like Madeleine, like Max, like Alexander and his horrible, no good, very bad day. 

Max's story--the angry young boy who works through his feelings in an imaginative world of monsters and magic is one close to my heart. It is one I read over and over again as a child, paging through the pictures because I had the story memorized.  

Before I understood the metaphorical references, I understood this; there were monsters in all our lives. Good ones, bad ones, ones that seemed more like friends than enemies, ones that needed conquering.

As a child I pretended to slay and rule them with make believe weapons, to Xena-warrior-princess them into submission and make the world right. And as an adult I understand even more the importance of facing them, though the tactics aren't exactly the same.

Max becomes king of his monsters by staring into their yellow eyes without blinking. He faces them head on, conquering each and every one until they are no longer so scary, and it is only when he does this that he realizes it's time to move on and go home. 

Maurice Sendak died today, the man who gave us Max. But he leaves with us the moral of his most famous literary work.

We each have monsters, those insidious places deep in the wilderness of our hearts, lies that affect how we see the world around us made deep by wounds we received. Some are scary, and some have been there so long they seem like old friends. Some taunt us with terrible roars, digging their claws in deep, asking us to stay just a little while longer. But like the monsters in Max's story, while they say they love us, they will eat us up inside if we let them linger. 

The only way to conquer them is to face them, scary yellow eyes and all. Unlike Max, we have an advantage in this quest--an ally. A King that if we'll let Him can help us slay the wild things in our lives, whose mere words can transform our wildernesses into promised lands, who invites us to become co-laborers and co-heirs (Romans 8:17), to dance in a 'wild rumpus' beside Him, and at the end of it all to leave our monsters behind us and step into freedom, wholeness, and health.

What monsters are you facing today? Are you ready to look them in the eyes and wave goodbye, sailing into your destiny? He's waiting...

Behold, I will bring health and healing, and I will cure them and will reveal to them the abundance of peace and truth.
Jeremiah 33:6


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