Redirecting elephants in Cuba.

Two Mondays ago, I arrived in Havana, Cuba, for the first of my two scheduled visits of 2017. Had you asked me a year ago if I would ever go to Cuba, I don’t know that I could have said yes. Not because I didn’t want to, but it was never on my radar. Until recently. Now, I can’t stop thinking about it and the people there.

Cuban Sunrise

The church I serve has had a partnership with the Primera Iglesia Presiteriana-Reformada de la Habana for many years now. Each year, we send a group of adults down for a week to visit with the people there, experience their ministries, and explore Havana. I had no idea that such a small island, a church, and the people inside of that church, could change my heart so much in only a week.

First Presbyterian-Reformed Church of Havana, Cuba

In their book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, brothers Chip and Dan Heath describe the heart as a person’s elephant and the mind as the rider of said elephant. No matter how hard the rider directs the elephant, the elephant is always bigger and wins out; the elephant is not directed by logic, but by emotions and feelings. It is easy to ignore the rider because he’s small; emotions will always win out over logic when they want to. The rider can only take charge if the elephant is willing to listen and be directed. In other words, the heart has to get on board with the head before change happens. So, the rider/brain must find ways for the elephant/heart to be changed.

When we learn one another’s stories and are truly in relationship with others, that is when elephants listen; that is when hearts change. I’m in the elephant business; I’m in the business of changing hearts. Our minds can tell us something is right or wrong, but we will continue to do the opposite until our hearts tell us differently.

I thought I knew what my heart was saying and where it was leading me, but my elephant was lazy. I let it get lazy. But the funny thing about really being in relationships, is that when one side holds the other accountable, like really holds them accountable, that’s when elephants get off their asses. And mine definetly got a good swift kick this past week. That’s how big creatures like elephants get changed.

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