Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Wisdom of Doing the Next Thing

Yes They're All Ours: Nourishing November

I'm really not sure how we can already be five days into November!!  Are you??

Already, I feel behind -- having lost most of three days to sickness.  Unfortunately, even when we stop dead in our tracks, the world around us doesn't!  That means our work only piles up around us  . . . 

The natural response to feeling behind is to panic and then to fly around swatting at everything at once . . . which isn't very productive, and just insures that we will quickly exhaust what measure of energy we have, with precious little to show for it.  Or, on the other hand, some of us may respond to such a situation by becoming so overwhelmed that we don't know where to begin  . . . so we throw up our hands in despair and sink down into a chair and do nothing.  I've responded in both of these ways at various times through the years.

However, neither response tends to nourish and build up our homes, our families, or ourselves.  

So, how should we respond when we feel behind and overwhelmed and surrounded by so many tasks that need to be done that we have no idea where to start??  

I think I can practically hear Elisabeth Elliot in her quiet, calm, but determined, voice saying, "Do the next thing."  

This one motto served Elisabeth well, whether dealing with natives in the jungles of Ecuador or when filling in for her daughter Valerie and attempting to manage her home while keeping up with a house full of active grandchildren, as she explains here.  Elisabeth's practice over a lifetime was to never allow herself to get ruffled or frazzled in an overwhelming situation.  Instead, she established the habit of asking God for wisdom and direction, and then calmly setting about to "do the next thing."  When that task was completed, she looked for the next job that needed done, and continued to just "do the next thing."

And that is the best advice I have for conquering any overwhelming situation you or I may find ourselves in -- "just do the next thing."


Mrs. White said...

Excellent advice!

Mrs. White
The Legacy of Home

Miu said...

I really needed this encouragement now. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Found your blog a couple of weeks ago and am amazed by how much we seem to have in common, even though I only have 3 kids.

When I read this post about advice from Elizabeth Elliot, I knew I had to post. Her wisdom was a true blessing to a new mom who had no idea how to raise children in a christian home. And like you said it is as if at times I can hear her soothing, calm voice in my head just as when I listened to her so intently each weekday on her radio broadcast when my babies were small. They are 21, 19 and 16 now and the biblical principles she taught me way back then have carried me through many trying times.

I haven't read all your posts yet, and you may have already written on another piece of advice Mrs. Elliot gave, but "everything in its place, and a place for everything" would be a great topic too :)

Amy @ Cheeky Cocoa Beans said...

Excellent post! I find myself telling this same thing to my 9 year old, who is easily overwhelmed by complete sentences, "showing his work" with math, etc. I need to frequently remind him to just work on what he's working on, and then do the next thing. I should take this advice, too! :)

Thank you for the Versatile Blogger Award! I (*finally*) posted my acceptance post. I hope you and your family have a great week!

tlmalcolm said...

The chores will be there waiting on you but the time with the children, friends and family may not wait! Its taken me a long while to figure this out in my life and at times I still struggle with it. I do find that when my house is clean and in order I feel more relaxed and happy.

pinkcamojeep said... LOVE HER!
Like you, I can just imagine her soft, gentle, lullaby voice and I can hear her speaking those words. God used her so greatly in years past to shape my life today. I praise Him for her.
I hope you have a good day and a great week as you regain strength and "do the next thing."


- karen

I was looking for a recording of her speaking the words, but found, rather, a lovely newsletter of hers. Here is the link:

Jules said...

Thank you for those words from Elizabeth. I think we all feel overwhelmed at times and it's worse when we've been ill and have gotten behind. I hope you feel better now. And I'm going to remember, "just do the next thing".

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