When I was asked to speak at church about my experiences of motherhood, I heartily agreed. I was asked to speak this Mother’s Day which is just around the corner. Although I was given plenty of advanced notice, I continue to find myself at a loss for words. How do I condense eighteen years of being a mother into a ten minute homily? What does God want me to share with other moms? How do I explain motherhood?
“How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time. This saying is used in the business world to help explain short term versus long term goal setting. If you see the proverbial elephant as a larger than life barrier to achieving your goal, you need to eat it slowly – one bite at a time. If you see the elephant as an older wiser ally, you’d better not eat it. You’d better feed and nurture it – allowing it to grow daily. Let’s face it, eating an elephant one bite at a time would be exhausting anyway. Why does the elephant exists? Does it mean you harm? Is it in your way?
If motherhood is the elephant, did I eat away at mine or did I nourish it and allow myself to become stronger than I knew was possible? Neither. God chose an alternative path for me and my elephant to take. God showed me how to climb up on a ladder and sit atop my elephant as its rider. I Switched it up and learned to view the world of motherhood through my own unique perspective. I allowed God to use my elephant for good, not evil. I dismissed all human expectations and knowledge about how to live with or destroy my elephant. I surrendered my elephant over to God and allowed God to keep it alive and well. After all, God gave me the elephant and trusted me with it. It somehow came in a packaged deal with my kids.
My elephant was especially large and difficult to train as its rider. I had to take many riding lessons. Sometimes I was thrown to the ground and didn’t know if I would survive. Other times, I got off the elephant and walked beside him out of sure fatigue. Some days, my husband tried to ride the elephant. He kept it on the right path, but he often fought with the elephant or wanted to eat it all at once. My husband wanted the elephant to disappear. I did too. My kids especially despised the elephant in our lives. They wanted a puppy instead. They didn’t ask for the elephant, none of us did. But, we all lived with him. We learned to love him and feed him properly. We learned that if we didn’t do these things, he would surely sit on us and smother us to death.
Mostly, we learned as a family that God means all things for good through His grace and love. Loving an elephant is hard at times. I wonder if that’s how God may feel about us as well. I wonder how many other mothers are trying to figure out how to deal with their elephants?