Like others (perhaps you?), I have had difficulty in the past with confronting others. This has spilled over from my personal life into my professional world, and in both it has made for some very painful, frustrating, awkward moments. At first, I would tell myself that it really wasn’t a big deal and that in time I would get over it. When the person’s continued behavior or even their presence made me frustrated, I would continue to say that the problem was manageable, without any need to directly address the issue. But you know what happened next? I either intentionally waited too long or verbally lashed out at them, or I retreated further into my frustration, bitterness, and anger. You know…come to think of it, I’d have the verbal skirmish…in my car, or in the privacy of my own home, where it was safe to share how I felt…where I couldn’t be wounded by their response. I was not only ignoring the elephant in the room, I was doing whatever was necessary to accommodate the presence of what I hoped would just magically disappear.
With time, prayer, and support from mentors, this is an area in which I have grown. However, I recently began thinking about other elephants I have accommodated, who have more than overstayed their welcome – offense, bitterness, my physical and spiritual health, telling God how things are going to pan out…yeah, the list could go on! One specific issue comes to mind and I have waited quite a while to address it. For the past nine years, I have struggled with my weight. Rather than addressing the stress of graduate school, the true desires and goals I had, very painful moments from my past, the disappointment of feeling overlooked when seeking administrative opportunities, the feeling of being a failure as a husband and a father, I turned to food. And then, when Jaime was diagnosed with cancer, and I watched her suffer and then die, I spent many late nights and early mornings, trying not to “feel” by eating something. So many, including my late-wife, encouraged me to take my health more seriously. I ignored them and the scale because if I addressed my weight, I would have to address how I got to that point in the first place. Gosh, that’s the reason why I didn’t address other elephants in the room, too — if I noticed them, and talked about them, I’d have to talk about how they got there in the first place and why I was ignoring them. When it came to my physical health, the elephant in the room was my wondering if God was enough in the moment. What I have been reminded of is that I don’t need anything or anyone to replace who He IS and what He wants to do in and through my life. The weight I have lost (joyfully!!!) is of less importance to me than how God continues to transform my heart and my mind each and every day!
What is the elephant in the room for you? My guess is that you are already fully aware of what it is and that you have spent a considerable amount of time excusing, ignoring, and accommodating its presence. But, past your bluster and self-deprecating humor you are desperate for the exit. I get that – I have been there (recently!). Get angry! Get so sick of what is in your life and where you are at, and then do something about it. Friend, I fell off my treadmill several times the first week. But I got back on because I don’t ever want to forget how angry and determined I was on day 1. This moment…RIGHT NOW….could be your day 1. Just imagine all that is possible in your life once your have shown your elephants the exit!
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” – Psalm 139:23-24
“But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’.” – Matthew 19:26
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