Sitting in a friend’s office at the end of the day, I listened to her handle a work-related issue via phone which required far more listening than talking. Twenty minutes later, she slammed the phone down into its cradle, b-lined across the room, muttering a few choice phrases about human kind, and pulled open a file cabinet drawer which possessed a large container of cheese puffs.
You know, the ones which if I had small children would be banned from the house because of the nasty orange residue.
The two of us sat at a table next to the filing cabinet of junk food secrets and popped cheese balls as we commiserated about life in general.
Then we went out to dinner. Tex-Mex. Lots of chips.
And then we complained about how we can’t lose weight.
Yes: we went on a food bender: cheese puffs, chips, guacamole, enchiladas, who knows what else, and yet we are complaining about being fat.
This makes no sense.
I can name you other people who in the same circumstances would run five miles, not eat for three days, stop speaking to the parties involved, smoke a pack of cigarettes, or emotionally check out across the board for YEARS ON END, etc., etc. And they may perhaps complain about their calves hurting, headaches, dizzy spells, why they feel so angry and distressed, a cough which won’t go away, the wife/ husband who seems distant, or the kids who no longer speak to them.
It’s relative, I guess. We all have our metaphorical elephants hanging out in the living room of our lives.
The problem though is this: elephants are large. We might marginalize our quirks, but if “whatever” takes on such an obvious state of affairs that other people are noticing and pretending not, then it’s large. And these elephants are awkward in small spaces. Their trunks can knock over lamps and if one were to sit on the furniture you’re off to buy a new couch.
And then there is the obvious (speaking of metaphorical elephants in the living room): the poop.
Did you know the average African Elephant releases 300 pounds of poop daily?
The reality is your living room probably has some metaphorical elephant poop in it. As does mine. Weirdly, I tend not to notice mine as much as I do yours and vice-versa. But it’s there and it’s palpable and as much as we need to rid it from our lives, I can’t do it for you any more than you can do it for me.
An interesting quandary: what to do with the metaphorical elephant poop.
Unless the elephant poop is yours, nothing. The reality is, about 98 percent of the metaphorical elephant poop we deal with on a daily basis is petty. Granted, please remember we’re talking 300 pounds of pettiness, but most of this is simply not life-threatening.
And if you were to examine what you perceive as anyone else’s excrement, probably you’d discover more than one creature is partying down in the living room, so to speak.
All you can do is deal with your own elephant poop. Personally, I need to slow down on the judgment and move a little more impulsively towards loving reactions, particularly with people who drive me nuts. Snaps to judgment aren’t productive and don’t serve much purpose in regards to creating the changes God wants to see in this world distorted by priorities other than His.
And there’s more to it: because of my own crazy elephant, perhaps pooping 500 pounds daily, the perspective is completely off. Consider this:
“Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?” (Luke 6:39).
“First take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck form your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:42).
And as much as we all want to scream in those “elephant in the room” scenarios, I’m not sure it serves much purpose. Probably the better answer is to listen empathetically, ask plenty of questions, and support your brothers and sisters as Jesus would support you, while looking honestly at your own role in the dilemma at hand.
Then perhaps lend them a shovel. Or even better: help them shovel because, really, Jesus’ desire is for us to love one another as He loved us.
Nevertheless, get back that shovel because you will totally need it, and them, later.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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