Eating Elephants

There is an elephant that enters the room every time something dominates our news feed. Whether it is a shooting, suicide, racial violence, sexual allegations, or other horrendous acts, this elephant sits there as an enormous weight dropped on our chest. It’s the question: how should I respond?

I’m not sure the elephant ever leaves the room. He sits there waiting for us to move. And he takes up space around (and in) us until the next awful thing comes along.  

How should you handle the pachyderm weighing on your soul?

Well, I have another question: “how do you eat an elephant?”

As we continue to walk in this world filled with hate, questionable morality, and division, I think God is asking us to start by taking a bite.  

In the age of instant news feeds and mass communication, we are privy to a lot more information than ever before. Instead of learning about life outside through physical interaction and relationships, the world’s heaviest issues get delivered to your doorstep or, more precisely, the palm of your hand. This causes anxiety, depression, or apathy because it’s overwhelming. You believe the lie; you need to do something huge to make any difference. And because it can be paralyzing, you fall back and do nothing.

The world is too big to change single-handedly. Even Jesus, who did change the world, mind you, didn’t do it overnight. It took many years after his resurrection for the Good News to gain worldwide traction.

He started by taking one bite at a time. He was fully present, and he entered into the lives of those who were physically near him. He went into people’s homes. He ate with them. He went to weddings. He asked questions. He told stories. He told others about His Father. He affected his immediate circle of influence.

You are probably saying: but I am not Jesus. While this is true, you aren’t alone. As we head into Easter weekend and celebrate our Risen savior, we can celebrate the other gift God gave us: His Holy Spirit. 

Before Jesus went to the cross he promised his followers that he would send the Helper. 

I tell you the truth. It is better for you that I go away. If I do not go, the Helper will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you. - John 16:7

You see? You don’t have to guess what to do. You have the Spirit of God within you!

He will show you who to talk to and when to be silent. He will guide you in navigating complex relationships. He will open doors of change and opportunities to help. It starts today, right here, in your home, neighborhood, workplace, community. Ask Him for eyes to see around the elephant to those who need help, encouragement, and Hope.

Eventually, the massive animal will get smaller and smaller until he no longer demands your attention. The next time he shows up at your door, you simply invite him to dinner and begin again.

  1. Call or text that Person. I have a friend who is really good at reaching out even in the awkward times. She's obedient when God prompts her to text a person, even if it's uncomfortable.
  2. Enter with the intent to understand. So often I want to be understood. The conversation changes completely when I try to really understand the other human before me.
  3. Invite someone new over for dinner. This one has been tricky lately. As we emerge from our COVID bomb shelters, it is time to broaden our circle just a touch, even if it's just the neighbor on the other side of the street.


JL McCarthy

March 30, 2021