The Big Pink Elephant in the Middle of the Room

Yesterday was a long day.  It was an unusual day because I had an evening meeting with a long time minister from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.  That meeting was encouraging and satisfying.  (Much more satisfying than the Dallas Mavericks one point loss in game three of the finals last night!).

Yesterday, I was in a conversation with a friend and began to think about "the big pink elephant in the middle of the room."  Now that is a phrase which I first heard when I was working one day a week in a drug/alcohol treatment center (as a volunteer) in North Alabama.

At this treatment center (a 28 day residential program), there was a weekly meeting of all the residents and their families who had come in to visit.  The drug/alcohol counselors would address some aspect of addiction as it related to family life or marriage.  One day, a counselor talked about families who ignore "the big pink elephant in the middle of the room."  He was talking about people who ignore the obvious.  Specifically,  he was referring to families who refuse to admit that a family member or friend has a drinking/drug problem despite very obvious signs.

Could it be that many of us ignore the obvious?  Could it be that we ignore "the big pink elephant in the middle of the room?"

  • Maybe it is the person at work who everyone has too work around to get anything done.  For years, she has managed to alienate herself from most everyone.  Yet the company will address this situation with her.
  • Maybe it is the family member who receives so much attention–in fact–far too much attention.  This family works hard to keep from "upsetting him."  Meanwhile, other people and their needs are being  neglected.
  • Maybe it is that guy in a church who has the capacity to drain the life and energy out of most any good idea.  Yet, no one will really deal with his destructive behavior.

Maybe it is not someone else.  It may be "me." 

  • What if the problem is my own emotional immaturity?  What if I dealt with that issue instead of blaming my dissatisfaction on other people? 
  • What if the problem is my refusal to trust God with my life?  What if I dealt with this instead of thinking that "if I could just have "more," I would finally be happy?
  • What if the problem is my anger?  Maybe this is why I continue to alienate me from other people.  Maybe I need to stop blaming my loneliness on an "unfriendly church" and begin to ask, "Why do I destroy so many relationships?
  • What if the problem is my self-centeredness?  I may see myself as a servant but would those who know me best really describe me as a self-centered man?

These are tough issues many of us.  Yet, sometimes we never address what may be obvious to family members, friends, and others.

Many years ago, I was on a boat with my friend Doug, fishing in the Tennessee River.  I had not done much river fishing before.  As we sat quietly with our lines in the water, I began to hear the roar of a boat that got louder and louder.  A large bass boat sped thundering across the surface of the water.  As it passed, the waves rocked the boat we were in.  My friend Doug said,  “Jim, these guys don’t catch any more fish than anyone else.  They just get there first.” 

Unfortunately, some of us live like that.  We aren’t really getting very far but we are moving very fast.  One has to decide whether he will live as a bass boat just skimming the surface of life or as an ocean liner that travels deep.  Are you traveling deep or are you just skimming the surface?

Many of us live as the "big pink elephant in the middle of the room" because we are content to skim the surface in life.  We never allow Jesus to deal with the real issues in our lives.  We close off our hearts to him while we remain in complete control.  Jesus never turned a human being into an obnoxious person.  If a person is obnoxious, he or she will have to look somewhere else besides Jesus to account for that

In the meantime, I have a choice.  I can let him deal with me–who I really am and trust him with the fragile parts of me.  Or, I can be content to spend my life skimming the surface.

In the end, I may have to ask, "Did I really live?"

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

9 thoughts on “The Big Pink Elephant in the Middle of the Room

  1. Jim,
    Another good, thought-provoking post. I can’t for the life of me figure out why so many obnoxious Christians think that they’re being Christlike. And I know I get obnoxious at times…just ask Julie.
    Blessings on you.

  2. If you could hear through cyberspace, you would know that I am shouting when I say, “I want to live!”

    What a great post. Thank you!

  3. Gregg,
    Those pink elephants in churches—they are often loud, manipulative, and creating dysfunction, while we do a masterful job of being silent and practicing “faithful” avoidance.

  4. I think you are on to something by using the analogy of a treatment center to help us learn about human behavior. I have felt for a long time that much of our religiously destructive behavior is due deeper psychological problems.

    Peace to you.

  5. I have stumbled across exactly what I believe I needed to hear today. I have recently been aware that I am a big pink elephant in a church I attend. I could also agree that most if not all relationships I have had have been skimmimg the surface. I believe others are speaking out rather indirectly but it has put me in a situation where I don’t want to run around asking forgiveness from everyone or feeling that way. How can I give the reigns to Jesus without striving? Also how do I move forward in these relationships without demanding forgiveness?

  6. @aarongoodman
    Aaron– You’ve raised some good questions. Unfortunately, I really don’t know how to advise you without some more information. I am not sure what you mean exactly in the sentence below. If you would like to give more explanation, I will be glad to help if I can.

    “I believe others are speaking out rather indirectly but it has put me in a situation where I don’t want to run around asking forgiveness from everyone or feeling that way.”