looking ahead

When Looking Ahead is Overwhelming

looking aheadLooking ahead in bite-size pieces

Dave found me off in a corner, crying. There I sat, looking at our newborn son in his bassinet. Suddenly, the responsibility of caring for and raising our son for the next twenty years was overwhelming. I did what any new mother would do. I cried, because crying makes everything easier, right?

“What am I going to do with him for the next twenty years?!” I blubbered into my tissue. “I don’t know how to raise a boy.”

I saw the hidden smile in Dave’s eyes, but he didn’t laugh.

Instead, he said, “Can you take care of him today? Do you know how to take care of him today? Do you know what he  needs when he cries or has a tummy ache?”

“Of course, I know how to take care of my baby today!”, I said. “I know his cries and I can tell if he’s tired or hungry or needs to burp.”

“Then just take care of him today,” Dave said.  “You don’t have to do the next twenty years today. We’ll talk about tomorrow, tomorrow.”

So I did. I diapered and nursed and burped and rocked our newborn. He grew up and we sent him out as an arrow to make a difference in the world. Our oldest has been in over fifteen Third World countries and lives in a western state. We got there one day, one event, at a time.

Taking away the “I can’t”

I remember the evening Dave and I were in our room getting ready for church. We had three new foster kids in our home, and adjusting to school work, medications, moodiness and stubbornness left us worn out. We hid in our room, not wanting to come out!

Dave had spent an hour helping a child study for a test. No matter how hard Dave tried, the kid could not remember the Pinta, Nina, and Santa Maria. [We discovered later he knew the names but chose not to remember them, probably because it got him more attention.]

“I don’t think I can do this, Gert,” my husband told me.

“Oh, but we have to,” I replied tearfully. “They’re already here and we said we’d take them. We’re not giving them back.”

So there we were. Stuck with three kids who needed love and attention when we had little energy to give. You know what we did? We kept giving because it was the right thing to do – and eventually, the insurmountable became surmountable. We found ways to nudge and prod until the stubbornness was gone. We also learned to nix false ideas and fill our minds with Truth.

I knew scripture I could claim to help me through, but I needed more than a verse to grab. I needed something practical until the scripture became Truth and a part of my daily thinking.

I focused on making it through one day instead of looking ahead at the week. One morning of getting the kids out the door for school instead of the myriad phone calls regarding specialists, medications, seizure precautions, and psychiatrist appointments. I made it through by focusing on the next task, and not the next day. When looking ahead, I had to take away the “I can’t” and replace it with “I will.”

Still practicing looking ahead

I still have days I struggle with the insurmountable and overwhelming things on the horizon.  You know what I do?

I put myself back in that bedroom in my rocking chair with a baby in a bassinet sleeping obliviously. I remember how I thought I could not do this. Then I remember what Dave said.

“Can you do this today?”

I know I can – today. I have many of those “todays” when I need to grab hold of that Truth and move forward because I will.

Sometimes I ask Dave to help me sort out the pieces of what seems overwhelming. We look at what we know are facts and get rid of the other stuff that has no part in the equation. We take out the What Ifs and the I can’ts and replace them with “I can and I will.” 

Especially true for me are the words from Philippians, “I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength.

You, too, can choose to grab hold of today, instead of looking ahead at the Overwhelming. Choose to grab hold of that strength, instead of hiding behind the Insurmountable.

looking ahead


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