When Life Gets Hard, Take a Step
I think most of us would agree. The past two years haven’t been our best ones.
Death and disease flood our newsfeeds. Disaster and destruction shock us far too frequently. Chaos and questions keep us unsettled.
Just when we think life is returning to a normal pace, another unwelcomed surprise forces us to change course, adjust, delay. For someone who thrives on consistently, I often wonder where the routine has gone.
But as I reflect over the past year, I see one main theme emerge in my life—take a step.
For the first part of 2021 a black cloud seemed to hover over my existence. Fear kept me wondering what negative event might transpire next. Anxiety left me exhausted and dreading each day new.
The trouble in the world around me, the struggles in my own life, and the worry that swirled within me often left me feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. But amidst all the uncertainty, I learned a beautiful lesson.
As much as I value routine, I’m not promised another day. Before 2020 it was easier to check off our to-do lists, make our plans, and go on as if we were largely in control.
But anyone who has suffered or experienced loss knows how quickly plans change, to-do list become inconsequential, and life’s trajectory can change forever. Yet in the brokenness and loss we learn to embrace the beauty of today.
The Bible calls us to remember what God did yesterday and believe what God has promised for tomorrow. But it also insists we live for the present.
Jesus taught us to ask God for daily bread (Matthew 6:11)—for what we need today. Amidst suffering David focused on the day God had made and chose to rejoice in it (Psalm 118:24). During exile Jeremiah had hope as he remembered the new mercies God gives each morning (Lamentations 3:22–23).
God calls us to live each day, fully present, right where he has placed us. It’s the only way to live our very best life. And in seasons of darkness and despair, it’s often the only way we get through them.
We don’t have to figure out how we’ll make it through the next six months. We don’t even have to plan out the entire week. We just have to wake up on each new day, trusting God will be faithful in it. And we take a step.
When we shorten our gaze and focus on the present, we start to see the beauty standing right in front of us. How our child’s smile lights up a room. The simple act of our spouse as he seeks to lighten our load a little. The kindness of a friend to remember and text.
Slowly our perspective shifts. We start to see the mercy in each day. We feel the hope return. We let the joy back in.
Once you’ve learned to live in the present, to take each day as it comes, you really don’t want to leave it. You may plan and dream again. But realize the best things in life are here and now—in the messy and mundane, in the sorrow and surprises. We live, love, grieve, and hope. We take all that life gives us in a day, and we live it fully.
So if you find yourself in a hard season, don’t get too far ahead. Live in the present. And take a step.
How will you embrace and celebrate today?