Stranger Things: A guide to fighting Mind Flayers
If you guys haven’t already binged through the third season of Stranger Things, I suggest closing this tab because there are some major spoilers ahead. You have been warned.
This season pays nostalgic homage to all things ’80s, recalling colour block fashion, a lot of hairspray and a premise closely resembling cult classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
The Mind Flayer – a supernatural being from the Upside Down – has invaded the minds of several individuals in the town of Hawkins. Using its tentacles, it enters inside a human host, taking control over their thoughts and actions.
While Mind Flayers don’t actually exist in the real world, it felt too close to home to simply be brushed off as fiction. The Mind Flayer fed on the deep-seated fears of its hosts, giving it complete control over them.
Similarly, we too have succumbed one way or another to a certain “monster” in our life. Whether it’s a fear, an insecurity, a past hurt, depression or PTSD, we’ve let certain negative emotions rule over us.
Emotions are not always under our control. And we don’t have Eleven’s power to defeat these monsters just by using her mind. So how can we fight our own Mind Flayers?
1. REMEMBER YOUR “CALIFORNIA BEACH” MOMENTS
In the last episode, Billy – this season’s main antagonist – attempts to pin Eleven down on the floor to feed her to the Mind Flayer. Though as he does so, Eleven describes a special childhood memory of Billy and his mum on the beach she saw previously when reading his mind.
Hearing the memory, Billy’s grip on Eleven loosens and his menacing face grows softer. And as Eleven continues to bring up even more intimate details of that scene, we see a tear begin to trickle down Billy’s cheek (and mine).
It was through the recollection of this touching memory that Billy was able to snap out of the Mind Flayer’s control. Returning to his senses, Billy stood up and used his body to shield Eleven and her friends from the Mind Flayer.
We may not have Billy’s dramatic past, but we all have those “California Beach” memories we hold close to our hearts. Recalling these special moments helps snap us out of the drowning currents of negativity by injecting joy back into our life.
Mine would probably be that peaceful nap I took in my great-grandmother’s arms, a month before she passed away. This memory comforts me whenever waves of grief pass over me. It acts as an emotional and mental pillow to put me at ease.
No matter how significant or insignificant, seeking out the good and thanking God for it helps us break away from negativity. And by intentionally choosing to see the good that has happened in our life, we learn to become more grateful.
Brene Brown summarises it in a simple yet powerful statement: “Practising gratitude invites joy into our lives.”
2. LET’S BE REAL
Gratitude helps soften our hearts and initiate a change inside of us. Internal transformation should then be followed by a change in our outward expression, where we take that step to open our mouths and truthfully share our hurts and struggles with others.
Our monsters may seem ugly in our eyes because they represent our weaknesses and flaws. We thus end up hiding them from others out of shame for who we are.
For Billy, the monster nested in the centre of his childhood traumas, from his father’s emotional abuse to being abandoned by his mother. He tried to cover up his hurts with a tough exterior.
Similarly, we too put on facades of strength to cover our weaknesses. And this continuous need to project a certain image only leads us to feel more alone and trapped beneath the lies we tell.
But if there’s something horror movies teach us, it’s that being alone is never a good idea.
Everyone has a monster dwelling in the darkness and hurts of their hearts. Shame is a tool the devil uses to lead us astray from being in community.
It leads us to lie, to hide and to only sink further into darkness in an attempt to appear as put together as the people we see around us. When in fact, everyone is just as equally broken.
3. STEP OUT OF THE CAVE
Hopper said in his letter to Eleven: “…when life hurts you, because it will, remember the hurt. The hurt is good. It means you’re out of that cave.”
We need to step out of our spiritual caves – a space of darkness that we use to hide away from God.
Leaving the cave shouldn’t be confused with God instantaneously transporting us out of our painful situation. Escaping our hurts isn’t always the goal – and it’s not always God’s plan for us either.
Rather, we leave our spiritual caves when we acknowledge our emotions and find peace in God even in the midst of our pain.
Remember when Joyce, Will’s mum, was so desperately and angrily screaming at the Mind Flayer to get out of her son? That parental protectiveness and righteous anger is God’s love for us and more.
He knows us inside and out. And despite knowing our weaknesses and faults, He still desires to draw close to us (Hebrews 4:15-16).
When Eleven dives inside the minds of the hosts, we see the person trapped in some enclosed space. And when Heather the lifeguard is drowning in a dark abyss, the helpless Eleven is unable to reach Heather as she sinks.
God, on the other hand, is someone who can reach down and pull you out from the waters. No matter the circumstance, His reach isn’t limited. Which is why we can take that step out of the boat and into the storm (Matthew 14:25-33).
As Isaiah 43:2 says: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned. Nor shall the flame scorch you.”
We don’t have Eleven’s telekinesis, but we have something better to help fight our battles. And that’s none other than the greatest Light that can overcome all darkness (John 1:5). We must daily clad ourselves in the armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) to fight off our inner monsters.
The Mind Flayer’s mission was to build an army of inflicted hosts. Similarly, in the spiritual realm, there’s a battle that’s raging – the devil is out there to steal you away from God’s army. But through gratitude, community and ultimately through God, we can stand our ground and defeat him.
THINK + TALK
- Reflect on at least one thing you can be grateful for today.
- How can you reach out to someone about a problem you’re facing? And how can you be there for others who are facing similar problems?
- What are some mental/emotional battles in your life that you’ve yet to acknowledge and seek God’s help for?