"I can do hard things in my bed," she beamed as she said it. I tried to hold in my laughter at my 4-year-old saying such a funny thing so seriously.
She was at a stage when she would respond to instructions with, "It's too hard!" Whether it was picking up some toys or putting on her pants or buckling her seat belt, the whining would start.
We countered it with, "You can do hard things." We didn't ask her to do anything she physically could not do, but if she believed it was hard, then who were we to discredit that? So, we simply acknowledged that, yes, it might be hard and she could do hard things.
In this particular conversation, her and her brother were buckled in the backseat while I drove us home after a morning outing. I must've sighed or something that triggered us talking about why I was tired and overwhelmed and that sometimes taking care of kids is hard work.
I know, kind of a heavy conversation for a preschooler. I try to err on the side of open and honest, and I kept it short and sweet and in 4-year-old terms.
She, ever the people-pleaser, chimed in that she could help make my job easier. She would play with her baby brother and clean up her room and make her bed. Because, as you're now aware, she can do hard things in her bed.
Motherhood and other areas of life have been hard many times since, and that conversation often comes to mind. I can do hard things. Not just random hard things that don't matter. I can do hard things in the name of Jesus.
I can do hard things in motherhood--for these kids that I have the opportunity to directly point to Jesus as I also teach them to pick after themselves and not hit each other. I can do hard things in my writing--as I use words and this God-given interest/ability to share His love and point others to Him even as I endure others opinions. I can do hard things in my daily habits--as I struggle to let go of vices and instead lean more fully into Jesus and His plans for me that include even little things like eating healthier and using my time better.
I can do hard things, not because it's easy (duh), but because it's worth it. The best things in life may not be the easiest (in fact, they're often not the easiest), but if not now, then soon enough, the benefits will be obvious and I will be glad I had courage to do the hard thing.
Finding Courage for the Choices that Matter
So, how do we find courage to do hard things? Below are some tools that have helped me whether it's in mothering, changing a habit, doing work that matters, or any number of hard but meaningful tasks. I'm sharing this little list as a reminder for myself, too.
1. Remember your why.We don't volunteer to do hard things for no reason. Okay, maybe some of us do. Most likely, though, we do something hard because it's meaningful. It will lead to something really good. There's some hope that it will all be worth it in the end. It could promote God's Kingdom by bringing you life, serving the people around you, or sharing God's love. What does that look like for you? Whatever goals you're pursuing, find the deeper why, the value that lasts, the one from God.
2. Surround yourself with truth.It's hard to make it through any hard day with a discouraging voice in your ear, even when it's your own. That negativity and discouragement is not God's, so there's no reason to make it yours. Read His Word daily and put His truth in your heart and repeatedly in your mind. Write it in your journal, tape it beside your bed, use it as a bookmark, sticky-note it on your computer, write it on your mirror, put it on your phone's lock screen. The battlefield of our minds determines if we win or lose the war. Keep your mind in check with God through His Word. That's where we find strength in our weakness, peace that passes our understanding, and lasting change that matters.
3. Embrace different.Let's leave the "just getting by" and the "decent" living to the people who don't know better. We know better, don't we? We know that while life can hold hang-ups and challenges, it can all drive to something better and Someone bigger. And the choices that lead to His better and bigger for us are quite often not the easiest or the most popular. In fact, if we're just going with the flow around us, or even what comes natural to us, in what we watch, eat, do, think about, then that's a pretty good indicator it's time to reevaluate and ask God what needs to change--because it's likely something needs to change. When we're not exercising our ability to make good albeit hard choices, there's a deceitful being that will gladly take over those choices for us and run our autopilot into the ground. Let's stop letting him!
4. Remove distractions.It's easy for me to keep bringing up technology, because that's my weakness and my most crippling distraction. Only you know what yours are. Do you fall into a comparison trap? Do you say yes to too many things? Do you spiral into negative thinking? Remove one of your main distractions that's keeping you from doing hard but good things. Replace that time with soul rejuvenation, meaningful connections, getting something done that you've always wanted to do.
5. Do one thing today that gets you closer.You don't have to find the easiest next right step. And, actually, the next right step might actually be one of the hardest. Take it anyway. Small changes build momentum, change your perspective, and increase your drive. Make a change today that could grow into something more meaningful tomorrow. Your "hard things" will determine your next right step. As a small example, I've been wanting and even needing to get a better grip on my health. I don't eat great, I don't exercise, and I give into cravings on the daily. So, as my next right step, I changed out my daily dessert-like coffee for a cupa green tea. It's about as unlikely a swap as an apple for a cupcake, but it's a specific change that will have big impacts especially because it's a choice I make everyday. But the benefits have a ripple effect. Without much more effort, I've also been addressing my nightly sugar cravings with healthier alternatives, eating better breakfasts and lunches. And this I truly feel is just the beginning of changes that have a ripple effect throughout my life because a healthier me can do harder things and whine a little less while doing it.
6. Remember Whose you are.You are capable in Jesus Christ. And if you're not, maybe go back to the beginning. Get back in His Word, take in truth, and look at your why. Who do you belong to? What matters most in this life? What makes any of it meaningful now or forever? Go back believing God is who He says He is, and believing that He doesn't make mistakes in His beautiful flow of creation, and that includes you. You were made on purpose with a purpose for this time in history. Live it by His power and for His glory.
You can do hard things. And it will be worth it. Whether you're in a tough season, returning to the same issues you keep addressing, or facing new challenges, you can do hard things in your health, in your family, in your work, in your church, in your community. I believe in you because He believes in you. Go do that hard thing.
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