Eating an Elephant


I’ve never eaten elephant, not do I ever intend to and I imagine that you haven’t eaten elephant either.  Yet, at times most of us ask that proverbial question, “How do you eat an elephant?” And we know the answer is, “One bite at a time.”

The entire analogy is quite hilarious if you think of it literally. 1. We don’t eat elephants. 2. If we did, we would still never be able to eat the whole thing anyway.

Nonetheless, back to my point, or points, which I haven’t even stated yet.

Life can be overwhelming.  When we only focus on the enormity of the task in front of us, we can get shut down emotionally and find ourselves paralyzed, not actually accomplishing anything because we know that we can’t eat an elephant; it’s just too big.

I’ve been struggling as of late with eating some of the elephants that are in my life.

For example, I really want to finish writing a book that I’m working on. I keep thinking that if only I could get a week away at the beach, I’d get it finished. Well, in reality, I’m not likely to get that week away.

So I’ve been trying to change my mindset into one that is more productive, more freeing. As someone recently suggested to me, “Why not think of it as writing a lot of little blogs instead of writing an entire book?”  That rang true in my heart and I’m working toward that, and even in that, as you can tell by the frequency of my blogs lately, even that is difficult.

One of my elephants has been assuming care of my elderly mother. She’s found herself in the stage of life where she needs more support. I’m the only living child, so that’d be me.

So right at the time when my two youngest children are almost independent and my husband and I will be free to “travel the world”, life has changed, again.

When I try to think about how to care for my mother well and honorably and what the next 10 years of life might look like (or 5 or 15, we never know), it overwhelms me.

Am I never able to take another week long trip? How do I deal with the guilt when I need to go to work and my husband is home with my mother as he works from his home office? How do I care for myself, my marriage, my kiddos, my job, my church, and my mother at the same time? How do I prioritize my life?

Truly, this is not an exercise in self-pity, but I have really tried to make this blog real. Raw. Relevant. I’ve tried to resist the urge to hide behind religious terminology. My heart is to connect, authentically, with my readers. No facades. And yet, I haven’t really invited you into this part of my journey and I want to.

It has been challenging for me on several levels. Emotionally, it will mess with you when you, as a child, assume the role of the parent to your parent. I know many of you are there and have been there. It’s been new territory for me.

I’ve found myself experiencing a range of emotions from anger to fear to guilt to anxiousness.

And I think of how life would be different if my brother were still living. We’d work together to know what we should do and I wouldn’t feel, well, so responsible.

I find myself thinking of some of the phraseology I learned while leading an addiction recovery group:

We speak of accepting life on life’s terms.

Doing the next right thing.

Just for today.

Of change being a process, not an event.

Emotionally, I am trying to take life a day at a time. I am trying to lean into God’s heart and access grace for that day.

In some ways, I am eating the elephant of today and the elephant of my past. God reminds me of ways I need more healing. I just know that in order to care for my heart, I will have to eat this elephant one bite at a time.

Matthew 6:34 tells me that I don’t need to be anxious about tomorrow. Tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Earlier in this chapter, Jesus modeled how we are to pray: Give us this day our daily bread. Could we translate that “Eat your elephant one bite at a time?”

Well, I must go. I’m headed into the kitchen to cook today’s portion of elephant. Anyone have a recipe for elephant sauce? 


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