What to do about it


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Since Friday (Dec. 14, 2012), it’s been the elephant in the room of our minds.

It won’t go away.  It’s too horrible to look at directly, and it’s too big to ignore.  It is an foul, obnoxious, unwelcome houseguest that is draining the joy out of our most joyous season.

Some can only discuss the elephant, while others can’t bear to.

So what do we do?  How do we proceed?  How do we squeeze that mammoth body out a much-too-small doorway in our hearts?

There’s no clear answer, but until we manage to make the elephant smaller and give him less real estate, he will wreck everything, and he will win.

So here’s what I propose:

  • Pray like you’ve never prayed before.  Fill the air with so many determined and genuine words of love and comfort that evil doesn’t dare expose its ugly face.
  • Sing often and sing loud.  Annoy the people you work with by humming and whistling in the hallways.
  • Anonymously pay for a stranger’s coffee or groceries.
  • Offer to help someone with their packages, or to assist them in lifting something heavy into their truck.  (Lift with the legs!)
  • When someone at work says, “Hey.  How are you?” as a mindless nicety, smile and respond with, “I’m blessed,” and mean it.
  • Take a month-long hiatus from gossip.  Consider making this a permanent change.
  • Go to a nursing home and visit with a resident.  Ask them about their amazingly rich life and about their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Ask them what they did for a living, where they traveled, and what occupies their thoughts now.
  • Run or walk a mile while listening to Christmas music on your iPod.  (Only the best, classic stuff.  Anything with Burl Ives or Andy Williams will do.)
  • Watch “Miracle on 34th Street” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” and let yourself weep at the end.  (If your wife is in the room, go ahead and hide your face in the couch pillow.)
  • Read “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.
  • Read the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 2, Verses 8-14.  Repeat.
  • Read the 23rd Psalm.  Repeat.
  • Remember that while bad things happen in this world, many more good things happen.
  • Say “yes” to your kids when you might normally say “no.”  Watch their surprised confusion.  It’s fun.
  • Grieve, but don’t dispair.  Be joyful, because Jesus was born and death was defeated, regardless of what evil would have you believe.

This is my list.  This is how I plan to shrink my elephant.

I hope it helps to shrink yours, too.


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5 Responses to “What to do about it”

  1. Laura says:

    Thanks Mark

  2. This is a powerful list. The idea that we have to replace our troubled thoughts with better ones works well for me. I like the playful creativity of your “worry replacers.” Very fun. Very uplifting.

  3. Sam Johnson says:

    That’s a good idea, Dad.


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