Do the Next Right Thing
Can you remember a time in life when you were waiting for something? Waiting for a call from a doctor, prospective employer, a child at college or banker regarding a home loan? At one time or another we are all waiting on something.
Not that long ago my husband and I waited longer than we ever had before. The most recent recession hit us hard. Neither of us had any real experience with dramatic economic shifts. We were baptized by fire. My husbands entire department was eliminated from his company as was the case for countless Americans. Millions of people seeking employment at one time and there are virtually no new jobs available. Do the math.
We became a statistic.
A face-less number.
Casualty of the recession.
When trouble hits we usually maintain a cautious “wait and see” attitude. That’s how we started this journey. We told ourselves all the right stories of faith and courage. We prayed and recruited others to pray. Filled our minds with Scripture and positive thinking. These things were helpful, for a while. But we didn’t know what we didn’t know.
We are most brave when the looming giant is still far away. It’s not until we stand in its’ enormous shadow that bravery runs thin.
Days turned into weeks, turned into months which turned into years. Yes, years.
The giant was much bigger than we imagined.
Any sense of calm started to wane because no one can escape panic when you’re dangling over a pool of hungry sharks. This is how it feels when there is nothing protecting you from doom. This is how I felt.
Waiting became our new norm. I’d wake up to nothing changing, except resources. Those dwindled like sand through an hourglass. My fortitude dwindled too. My husband and I both needed each other to be steady. That just wasn’t always convenient.
I was running out of energy for everything; for hoping things would change, for God, for cleaning, for family, for thinking, for talking, for prayer. I was even too tired to sleep. This was an emptiness I had never known before. My inner dialog made accusations, You should be able to handle this. But I couldn’t. It was too much.
Some things happen to you without permission and without warning.
Honestly, at any given moment I didn’t know how to keep going. After all, there were kids watching. There were worried parents. There was an inwardly stressed husband holding up a strong and confident outer shell. God, how could this be? This isn’t how it’s supposed to work, right? Loving friends and family came along side but facing the daily fear monger was something I had to do alone.
Deep in the maze of endless time I heard five little words that changed everything. Do the next right thing. I don’t really know where I heard or read them but somehow they embedded in me. I found them to be a pathway; a way through the darkness by focusing on simple everyday things. As stress and fear became significant I stopped and asked, what is the next right thing to do right now. On any given day the next right thing looked surprisingly ordinary.
- do two things on my to do list
- go for a walk
- say “yes” to help someone
- listen to good music
- pick up my Bible and lean in
- meet with friends
- to choose faith despite what things looked like
- make my bed
Doing the next right thing is a form of self-kindness.
Under duress my soul was withering. I needed my mind and body to learn how care for itself. So, I began telling myself that I needed to be good to me when life became intense. It became a practice for me. A skill of listening to the Holy Spirit and invite His care into my real time situation. I didn’t deny my tension and fear but rather cast it in the direction of doing the next right thing. This was a gift only the Lord could give.
A sacred work.
A faith work.
It was my way of believing without seeing.
As our season ended I was still standing. Dealing with the fear of the unknowns? Yes. Still practicing doing the next right thing? Yes. I grew to endure living in a place of tension and not be devoured by it at the same time.
It’s still mysterious to me. What I do know is that my season of loss was also a season of gain. Doing the next right thing became a life giving practice when I needed it most. It kept me showing up for my life.