Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Eating Elephants- Grove
It's an old proverb: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Sometimes elephants come crashing through our front door - uninvited, unexpected, they push their way in and take up all the room. Illness, job loss, relationship problems. Even a good problem like being too busy at work, or buying a new home can turn into fat, rude elephants and take over our lives.
I've been staring an elephant in the eye lately - maybe you have been too. And as I contemplate my elephant, I've been thinking about the best ways to take care of it. Should I push it back out the door, carve it up into manageable pieces, or just throw an area rug over it and hope no one notices? Hmmm
Have you ever noticed that when you first cut into an elephant with your quivering knife and fork that the initial cuts don't seem to make much of an impact on the elephant? They don't seem to be DOING anything! Such tiny bits come off - the elephant doesn't even notice, never misses them. It's so easy to drop our cutlery at this point, call it names like "Useless" and "Mistake".
But what would happen if we kept going? Kept jabbing and dicing. What if we didn't give up? What if we pursued our goal relentlessly? One small step at a time.
How do we hang on to our cutlery when all seems hopeless?
1) Remember you're not alone. God put you on the planet, but He didn't abandon you. He is with you. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is a constant presence who teaches and guides each one of us. On top of that, God has supplied you with family, friends, people who love you. If you go to church, you also have a community of like-minded people who will support you. With all those knives and forks, it takes less time to get that elephant eaten.
2) Look your elephant in the eye. Elephants come in different shapes and sizes. Sometimes it's difficult to know just how big the thing really is because we are too upset, frightened, or depressed to give a good, close look. But when we examine our elephant an amazing thing happens - we calm down, stop being afraid, and can come up with a game plan. The elephant starts to shrink.
3) Remember you have choices. Don't let your elephant sit on you! Even in difficult circumstances you always have choices, options, and freedom of thought. Pray, talk to friends, and work to adjust your emotional response to the problem. You always have control over how you react to an elephant. Sometimes the way to change the world is to change the way you think about the world.
Problems come, and sometimes they are big, overwhelming, time consuming problems. Grab your cutlery, recruit your trusted friends and families, and lean hard on God. And don't give up.
Bonnie Grove is the author of Your Best You: Discovering and Developing the Strengths God Gave You (Beacon Hill Press, March 1, 2009). Pre-order your copy today at http://www.amazon.ca/, http://www.amazon.com/, http://www.tower.com/ or http://www.christianbooks.com/ or anywhere you like to buy books online.