About six years ago, I began a new job. We had moved to Georgia from Ohio, and after some time to get settled, I returned to my career as a school-based speech-language pathologist. I loved my new position, although there were two factors that made it extremely challenging. The first was that I was not hired until one month after school had started for that academic year; students were halfway through the first grading period before I even walked in the door, so I felt behind before I even began. The second factor was that the caseload I inherited was HUGE. Thankfully, the position also provided the invaluable help of a talented speech-language pathology assistant, Lauren. Without her, I don’t know how I would have made it through even the first week, much less the remainder of the year. Even with her capable assistance, though, many (most?) days were just plain overwhelming. I quickly adopted the mantra, “Do what’s next,” to help me avoid being paralyzed by even the thought of so much to do in so little time. That huge stack of evaluation reports to be written? Progress cards to complete? Therapy plans and materials to develop? Phone calls to make? Emails to check and to send? Meetings to prepare for and attend? When I wanted to crawl under my desk and cry, I would whisper to myself, “Do what’s next. Do what absolutely has to be done right now.” Sometimes, that meant taking on a big task, but often it meant something really small–even something that might seem insignificant in light of everything that needed to be accomplished. Something like opening my mail. Or making a photocopy. Or printing a document I needed. Sometimes it was as basic as taking time to eat my lunch or use the restroom (seriously…teachers and other school employees will know what I mean!). Gradually, by “doing what’s next,” I gained momentum and eventually was able to tick tasks off the to-do list until just my day-to-day responsibilities could be addressed and successfully managed.
“Do what’s next” has become been an ongoing mantra for me. It’s one of my tools (weapons?) in my battle against being bogged down by the perfectionist in me who doesn’t like to start tasks unless I feel confident I can do them well and completely. Recently, I have begun to realize that reminding myself to figure out what the next step is, no matter how small, can also help me to grow in my faith. In particular, I’ve been mulling over this scripture:
Your word is a lamp for my feet, and a light on my path. Psalm 119:105 (NIV)
It is rare to find ourselves in literal darkness. There’s usually such a high degree of both direct and ambient light around us that scientists sometimes use the term “light pollution” to describe it. Perhaps, though, you’ve been camping with your family and needed to use a flash light to help you stay on the path. Without a flash light, you would have to stumble around in the dark to find your way to your campsite. You might direct your light far off in the distance, but it’s most useful when you use it to illuminate where you need to step next. You won’t see everything, but you’ll see what is most important right then, at that very moment.
Right now, I’m in a season of a considerable amount of uncertainty in my life. At least, I think it’s just a season; maybe it is a long season called “adulthood.” Anyway, I need some light to show me where to step next. I don’t have enough information to see all of the big picture, but I have God’s word. Through it, He tells me that I am significant and that I am loved by the very one who created the whole universe. He tells me that I can trust Him. He reminds me that He holds my future, and that He is leading me. He reminds me that His son, Jesus, is the Light of the World, and that through Him, I need no longer walk in darkness.
So, I’m doing what’s next: I’m holding on to these promises. I’m resting in the confidence that God’s path is the one I want to take, and the assurance that He is going to provide what I need for the next step, and all of the steps to come.