How do you eat an elephant?

Elephants are really BIG! (And a big thank you to Cabela's for providing the best road trip walk-about stop ever.)
Elephants are really BIG! (And a big thank you to Cabela’s for providing the best road trip walk-about stop ever.)

I’m looking at some pretty BIG tasks right now, friends. There are BIG things going on behind the scenes in my life, and I’m so excited about them, but so incredibly terrified at the same time. Sometimes I just don’t even know where to start. These are not just one-and-done kinds of tasks.

My dad looks at these tasks and asks, “How do you eat an elephant?”


Elephants do not look tasty. Elephant skin looks old and leathery and like it would taste like dirt. (What DO elephants taste like? I ask Google, and apparently the answer is “like SPAM”—who knew?!) So, new question: why? But I’ll go with the original: how do you eat an elephant?

“One bite at a time.”

Duh. It’s the same advice Anne Lamott gives in Bird by Bird. One piece at a time. But I still panic—especially because I feel like I’m trying to eat an elephant, a polar bear, sea lion, AND a moose* all at the same time.

My overwhelming panic is driving me back to Centering Prayer again. The panic of possibility and fear course through my muscles and I can’t sit. I do everything but plug away at the computer (where all the animals need to be eaten). So I turn on some music, stretch all the coursing muscles, and then sit and breathe.

When I first started meditating, my sacred word or mantra was “Be Still” from Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.”

Be still.

Trust God. Be still. I couldn’t do it. Meditation became an exercise in trying to forcibly still my mind. Shut it off. My worries and fears floated past my mind, teasing my emotions. My back ached and I couldn’t find the right position. I couldn’t force myself to be still.

So God changed my sacred word. It happened while I was meditating with others (there’s power in community!). God said, “Let Go.”

Let go.

I am so wound tight that God needed to be super clear with me about HOW to be still. Instead of forcing it, I had to let go. Let go of the expectation of meditating. Let go of the results. Let go of my worries. Let go of my need for control. Let go of my fear. I couldn’t erase any of it: I had to let it go.

To me, letting go means trusting that God is enough. Whether that means the fear of losing my family, the fear of never publishing my book, the fear of not having a salary, the fear of my child’s development, the fear of not being still, the fear of not being enough. The list goes on.

Let it go.

That’s how you eat an elephant. You let it go. (Metaphor breakdown here.) You let go of the need to eat the elephant. Let go of the outcome. My job is to simply do the work. I cannot control what happens after I’ve done my part. I cannot control who my daughter becomes, only how I raise her and interact with her. I cannot control whether I get the job, only my application for the job. I cannot control whether my book is published, only the actual writing.

The pressure is off. Be here now. Be mindful of the morsel of elephant in front of me, and then let it go.

So here we go.



*The eating of animals in this post is metaphorical only. Disclaimer: I have a mostly vegetarian diet, so eating any of these animals will absolutely not happen. Also, can you tell I frequent the zoo?
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