When you see an elephant in the middle of the room, you need to question why it is there.
Where elephants are concerned, there are always questions.
The pachyderm in question has a story of perseverance in spite of disdain.
We found this particular stuffed animal at a garage sale in Colorado. She had a lot more stuffing back then and was holding a baby in her arms. She was quite large, and at the end of the summer as we were packing to return to Orlando, I insisted on bringing Ellie with us.
John’s comment was logical. “Are you out of your mind? She’s huge. How do we get her back home?”
An insightful statement.
We got her home, and Ellie became a play place for the littles. They laid on her, jumped on her, slept on her. She slowly lost some of her stuffing but never her allure for those small ones drawn to her gray softness.
Nolan, at eight months, loves climbing on her, over her, and holding her ears as if she’s Dumbo.
The bigger picture is…well, she’s big. When she’s in the middle of the family room, there isn’t a lot of floor space left. She spreads out and covers enough room that those wanting to get by need to maneuver carefully around her.
Or take the shortcut over her.
Doesn’t it feel like we do that a lot with the perceived elephants in the room? What some may consider as harmless or incidental, others find to be unnecessary or unsettling.
Disagreements and intolerance can grow these elephants quickly. People perceive issues from different viewpoints, and to have the conversations that allow differing parties to voice honestly their divergent perspectives is close to impossible. For others, just having to deal with an elephant can shut them down due to fear or anxiety.
What can be done about elephants in the room?
Addressing an issue with honesty and humility is a great place to start. Elephants tend to bring up extremes in reactions, so to approach a discussion with calm and respect can be a challenge.
Jesus knew what it was to address difficult situations with respect and compassion. He never backed away from a disagreement; He spoke with honesty, and, when necessary, with strong words.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:3-4
There are many problems that are demanding and overwhelming today. Cultural challenges and world conditions can be staggering to grasp, much less finding common ground for conversation.
Rather than focus on the problem, wouldn’t it be better to allow our energy to connect with those we speak with, sharing with honest hearts and language that doesn’t bring offense? If we chose to respect those different from us, with ideas that don’t agree with ours, we might grow in understanding of the greater problems at hand. Helping those who are less fortunate, supporting those who are hurting, and choosing to be selfless in our dealings with those who don’t think as we do.
Jesus gives us the wisdom to respond well.
Maybe then the elephants won’t seem so large and insurmountable.