April 2018 by Penelope (Penny) Martin
A man was passing by an encampment of elephants. They were not confined in cages, but rather each one’s single leg was tied to a simple rope. The gentleman was puzzled as to why the elephants in their massive size and strength would not simply break free from their ropes and escape. Thus, he asked the trainer why they just stood there without escaping.
The trainer explained how the young elephant calves are tied to a strong rope to restrain them. They tug and struggle relentlessly until eventually they submit to the confines of the rope. As they grow, they remain tied to this same size rope. As a result the elephants become bound by a false belief in their hopeless restrictions…a false reality that permeates into the very depths of their spirits.
Quite often we too hang on to false beliefs that have become ingrained into our subconscious. Perhaps there were words of defeat spoken to us as children or throughout difficult times of our lives. Perhaps years of negativity experienced throughout a relationship has left us with feelings of inadequacy and a false perception of who we truly are. Or perhaps we may have gone through a series of trials that have left us defeated and somewhat cynical.
Nevertheless beneath the confines of our mind’s limitations, lies a world of hope. Beyond the restraints of our false fears lies a life of unlimited possibilities. In order to discover what truly lies within us, we must break free from these fears and restrictions. As children of God created, not for failure, but for victory, we must soar beyond any past defeats knowing He will guide us toward becoming the person He intended us to become.
It takes time to shed those misconceptions. However, regardless of our age or stage of life, each new day is an opportunity to make a conscious effort to grow towards the truth. We must decide each morning to step out of our comfort zone and do something new (i.e. reach out to meet with someone who has been on our mind; offer to help a difficult co-worker; volunteer at church, school, nonprofit, etc.; take someone to their doctor’s appointment; learn a new hobby; take a public speaking course, etc.). It need be nothing on a grandiose scale…a simple act of kindness will do.
“We can do no great things, but only small things with great love.” —St. Teresa of Calcutta
I guarantee you a bit of discomfort will bring a profound sense of accomplishment and inspire you to overcome your limitations. Set your goals. Begin with baby steps, and you will gain the confidence and satisfaction to stretch yourself even further. Then at the end of each day, bask in your accomplishments and plan your next step.
“God of deep waters and infinite riches, challenge me to go where I fear, to do what is difficult and what I thought could never be done. Push me to go to the deep waters of life and cast my net wide, for I put all my hope, trust and faith in you.” —Matthew Kelly
A couple of years ago after taking up horseback riding, I came to recognize a parallel between life and a particular aspect of my riding. At times I have a tendency to look down while riding. Whether I’m trying to gauge the position of my reins or watch my horse, my trainer is constantly “hollering” at me to “stop looking down and look up!” He reminds me to look up in the direction of where I want to go, and then warns me if I look down, that is exactly where I’ll end up…on the ground!
So it is with life as well. We must look up and focus on our future. Don’t look back at what you thought you couldn’t possibly do, but look forward to the unlimited possibilities God has placed before you.
The elephants were conditioned to believe they couldn’t escape. Had they stepped out beyond the confines of their ropes, they would have discovered their freedom. However, they remained trapped in the prisons of their minds. We, however, through the grace and power of God, have the ability to defeat our fears and limitations.
Today is a new day…a day to discover what is holding you back and to face your self-doubts–leaving them forever behind you. So don’t waste another moment. Step out in faith, and never look back!