I saw an advertisement the other day for a circus. There was a picture of an elephant chained to a small stake in the ground beside a circus tent, with information about the event and a number you could call to purchase tickets.
I’ve never been much of a fan of the circus (due, in part, to my overwhelming fear of mimes), but I stood there for quite a while staring at the flyer.
I couldn’t help but wonder how that MASSIVE elephant with ENORMOUS muscles was restrained by such a small chain. Why didn’t it just pull the stake out of the ground and march on out of there? Didn’t it know its own strength?
Being the information-glutton that I am, I went home and looked up the answer.
Apparently, circus elephants are first restrained when they are small . . . too small to actually break free from the chains.(Yes, I know this is cruel. But please stick with me and wait to call PETA until after you have finished reading this post.)
Try as they might, the baby elephants can’t break free from the stake.
And this is where my mind was blown:
Since elephants have such good memories, each time they are restrained by the chain they remember that they weren’t able to break out in the past . . . so they accept their bondage without even putting up a fight!
Despite their massive strength as an adult, they continue to remain in bondage to the same chains that restrained them as babies.
. . . And then I realized
. . . I am an elephant.
You see, I wasn’t always like this. I used to be confident, out-going, and carefree. I used to be bold, laugh without hesitation, and actively engage with others.
And then I turned seven.
Okay, so maybe there wasn’t a dramatic overnight change in me. But slowly, as I began to grow up, I started to become chained to the messages around me: you’re ugly, you’re fat, you’re awkward, you’re crazy, you’re too much, you’re not enough, etc.
The list went on and on.
I slowly began to believe these messages and started to carry myself as if they were true. Every time I entered a new situation, I kept hearing those same messages whispered in my ear and I found myself allowing them to constrain me.
Day in and day out.
To make matters worse, whenever someone came into my life and tried to say or do anything to negate those messages, I freaked out. I pushed them away or tried to prove them wrong. I did everything in my power to show them that I really was ugly, fat, awkward, crazy, too much, and not enough.
And then, when they had finally had enough and decided to leave, I used their rejection to drive the stake even further into the ground.
But the fact of the matter is, I am not ugly, fat, awkward, crazy, too much, or not enough.
In all actuality, I’m pretty damn cool.
. . . And it’s about time I started living like it.
So this is me acknowledging my own strength, pulling that stake out of the ground, and marching on out of here.
Who’s with me?