A friend of mine reminded me of a quote that I like that is originally from an unknown poet supposedly based on a simple sign on some old English parsonage containing the phrase: “Do the next thing.”
With holidays already roaring through in their usual fashion, I was reflecting on this quote/poem again and I think it may be fitting for us all, but especially those of us who are struggling with the demands that come with a diagnosis or unexpected medical condition that has changed “our” world. Take that on any normal day of the year and it can easily become overwhelming. Add in the holidays with its stressors, emotions and extra commitments and we can feel tired just thinking about our lists and calendars.
If you or someone you know has been living this new life of appointments, medications, hospital stays, insurance battles, set backs, etc. maybe this can be one of our mantras to not just get us “through” the holidays, but perhaps even bring a little “merry” back, as well.
“Do the next thing.”
The poem, as to be expected when connected to a preacher’s house, has a Christian message to it about trusting in the One who takes each step with us without the surprise and fear that we often struggle with. Whatever your religious affiliation or non-affiliation, I think we can all sit together around the idea that when we get overwhelmed but need to keep moving in life, sometimes it helps to have a splash of common sense and wisdom to drink down.
So here it is - do the next thing. Whether that is the load of laundry or making it to the store for your grocery pick up - do the next thing. If it’s scheduling a follow up appointment at a hospital that has left you scarred because of the news you received when there last - do the next thing. If it’s setting reminders in your phone to make sure you hit all of the medication or treatment needs for your kiddo - do the next thing. If it’s calling a friend for some much needed down time or taking the dog for a walk or going to that office Christmas party - do the next thing.
Remember, though, the substance of the poem is based on doing it in the grasp of a loving God - which means we don’t have to pretend that it’s not horrible. Or hard. Or that we just plain don’t have the capacity to feel anything anymore because our feelers are shot. If doing the next thing is having a good cry - we do the next thing. If doing the next thing means taking a brisk walk to release the anger we feel about our child’s illness - we do the next thing. We don’t have to robotically go through the motions when we’re sad, scared, angry, fill in the blank. And we don’t have to get stuck spinning our wheels because it's all a bit heavy.
Whatever that next thing is for you, I hope you have the courage to do it. If you’re not even sure what that may be - reach out to those around you who may be able to see things a little more clearly from their seat and take on good advice. I find it particularly fitting that our author is unknown. That’s a big part of life, isn’t it? Not knowing what’s around the next bend, the next phone call, or sometimes even feeling like you just aren’t seen - unknown. And yet look at all of the inspiration this person has left us! If you need support - emotional, financial, or otherwise, you can always contact me and I’d be happy to help connect you to the best resources for your needs. Give me a call at 307-333-1273 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can work together to do the next thing to inspire you (and most likely others) on the same path!
PS - if you’d like to read the full poem, let me know and I can send you a link.