In Others’ Words: Parade Elephants

Parade Elephants I’m staying with the circus theme this week.

It’s funny how something someone says to you stays with you. It can seem the most innocuous statement, and yet you never forget it.

Back when we were a military family, my husband and I and our first three kiddos were stationed in Turkey. I always joke that the option of living in Turkey must have been in the small print of my husband’s contract with the air force. I had to pull out a map to find out where Turkey was — and when I figured it out, my stress level spiked.

During our two years there, we were in a Bible study with other families who became life-long friends. Joe Cook and his wife were part of that Bible study. I don’t remember why Joe said what he said to me. Maybe I was talking about being a young mom of three children under the age of five and having too many things to do. No matter why he said what he said, to this day I remember his words:

Don’t wash the elephants who aren’t in the parade.

In other words, do what is necessary — and ignore the other stuff.

Joe Cook is a very wise man.

One practical way I started applying this? When people came over, I cleaned the parts of the house they would see … and shut the doors to my kiddos’ rooms — and my room too. Why? Because those “elephants” weren’t in the parade. My living room, my family room, my kitchen and dining room? All were elephants in the parade and so I needed to “wash ’em.” But the other ones I could ignore.

I learned to figure out what was important … and what wasn’t … and stopped trying to drag all the elephants into the parade every single day.

In Your Words: How do you figure out which “elephants” are in the parade from one day to the next? Has anyone ever shared a word of wisdom with you that has stayed with you? I’d love for you to share it with us today!

[Tweet “Parade Elephants and Priorities #lifequotes”] [Tweet “Picking the important “elephants” #lifequotes”]

 

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7 Comments

  1. July 9, 2014, 7:07 am   /  Reply

    It’s a good point, but carried just a bit too far it can make a Potemkin village of one’s life.

    I’ve found that it’s better to wash all of the elephants that choice or circumstance has placed in my life. I trust that they are there for a reason, and they deserve my best efforts because they have been placed in my care.

    And perhaps because I never know which one will become the lead elephant in the parade.

    • July 9, 2014, 8:25 am   /  Reply

      Andrew,
      I see your point — and I now know what the phrase “Potemkin village” means — but I always let people know why those doors are closed in my house.
      😉
      See, honesty is a core value of mine, so I can’t pretend I have it all together. I abandoned the pursuit of perfection — real or fake — a long time ago!

  2. July 9, 2014, 8:16 am   /  Reply

    I like Andrew’s answer. But sometimes i do wash only the elephants in the parade, saving the other washings for a better day.

    • July 9, 2014, 8:26 am   /  Reply

      🙂
      It’s true that sometimes an unwashed elephant sometimes lumbers out during the day and I have to deal with it in all it’s dirty glory.
      And that’s life.

  3. July 9, 2014, 9:33 am   /  Reply

    Great post and thoughts, Beth. When I began writing, a number of elephants in my life stopped receiving washings. My house looks picked up, most of the time, but don’t look too closely, or you’ll see the stains of the floor and the dust on the furniture. 🙂

    In other areas of my life, I’ve set some elephants in their stalls as I’ve said no to certain activities so I can open up more time for writing and still have good time and energy available for my family.

    You’ve given me good food for thought today. As usual. 🙂

    • July 9, 2014, 5:25 pm   /  Reply

      Love that phrase: “elephants in their stalls” — brava, my friend!

  4. July 9, 2014, 8:48 pm   /  Reply

    Beth, I like the idea of not washing the elephants who aren’t in the parade. That doesn’t mean they’re never in the parade. Just wash the ones you need to, not all of them. I’m sure each elephant will get their time to “shine”! But it doesn’t have to be very single day! That’s kind of freeing to think about.

    Mary

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