I am off schedule with this post. I typically like to write on Sunday and pop into your inbox on Monday, but that didn’t happen last. ALSO, I had originally planned to talk about a totally different topic this week, but here is what happened and it’s now a week later.
I have been been eating an entire two ton elephant that has been heavily hanging out on my shoulders for far too long. Most of the elephant is gone and now I’m feeling extra light and a little celebratory. Eating an elephant is not easy or fun, but sometimes it is the only way. It is also not for the faint of heart, the lazy or for folks who want to stick their heads in the sand thinking it will simply go away.
But here is the thing that I have to tell you. You can do it. You can eat the elephant. Whatever your elephant may be. Yes you can and if you do have an elephant looming overhead or hanging around weighing you down, then I want to tell you the simple steps that helped me. My hope is they might help you or someone you may know.
First of all, give your elephant a name. Sounds ridiculous, right? Hear me out. There’s something about identifying your big bad thing that helps make it a little lighter or smaller. Think of something clever, a little Tongue in cheek or light-hearted to take the awfulness out of it. I didn’t plan on naming the elephant. A name just happened with. no thought and it actually helps. Giving it an identity can make it seem more like an object or just a thing. That helps bring the thing into something that is identifiable and not this esoteric mist following you around like one of the death eaters in Harry Potter. The name has helped me when I needed to categorise time or compartmentalise what I was doing for a chunk of the day. I could write it in my calendar as working on “_____”. It brings it down to earth and so it can be reduced to a size smaller than you. Giving the elephant a name makes it easy to put it in calendar, talk about it, pray about it and only give it the amount of attention you determine to give it at any given time.
Do Three Things each day. During a particularly overwhelming time in my life I found that as long as I could accomplish three things every single day then I was good. I am a list maker and there is nothing more fulfilling than marking something off a list. I think some of us are just born that way. However, when there too many things to get done in a day that is humanly possible, you wake up feeling like a failure and the two ton Tessy elephant has you buried before your first cup of coffee. Here is the thing to do. Do three things off of the list. Just three. At least three. I’m not sure what it is, but the number three is the perfect number. It is like Goldilocks, it’s not too few and not too many. It is just right.
Next, accept help. I promise this is the healthiest thing you can do for you and anyone around you. If you are under water drowning and you have people reaching their hands in to grab you or throwing you a life ring, you absolutely need to take it and grab hold. And listen to this because it is important. It’s not all about you. You have people in your life who want to help, so look at it as doing them a favor. They want to help and you need the help so it’s a perfect match. Here is my example. I had a time when I was faced with working at a new job during the week, orchestrating packing and moving from our big family home to something smaller, and being the single parent to a son in the midst of a gruelling and time consuming wrestling season. That packing and moving was an enormous elephant. I would leave early on a Saturday morning to support and cheer on at wrestling matches and when I came home I would find that my friends would have been in my house packing up my china, or pictures off the wall, or the linen closet. I’m not sure how I will ever re-pay these friends, and I actually hope they will not need the kind of help they poured onto me, but they were right there eating that elephant for me and with me. And I was not too proud to accept it.
Do the best you can. I’ve said all along that I am not perfect and I make messes every single day. I also say that if someone would just give me an instruction book or a roadmap to follow, I would be the best follower ever. But there are some things in life that do not come with the perfect set of instructions. My mom always said that my brother and I didn’t come with a set of instructions on our bottoms when we were born. Same thing here. That’s when you learn to get wise counsel, listen to your gut, pray and do the best you can. Then pray some more.
I hope this helps you whether you have a baby elephant or a big mama hanging around.