September 18, 2022
Just do the next right thing Take a step, step again It is all that I can do The next right thing. I won’t look too far ahead It’s too much for me to take But break it down to this next breath This next step This next choice is one that I can make. --from “The Next Right Thing” in “Frozen 2”
I’ve been listening to the “We Can Do Hard Things” podcast by Glennon Doyle for over a year, and at the end of each episode, she asks, “What is the next right thing that we can do?” She has a wide variety of guests, covering some deep and thought-provoking topics. It’s all about being human, and how to embrace the whole of it. They remind us that we can, in fact, do the hard things of life, but when it feels large and heavy, just focus on taking one step. We learn to ask ourselves, “What is the next right thing that I can do in this situation?”
Walking with my dad through Alzheimer’s was definitely a hard thing. It was laden with challenges, changes, and grief. I learned to ask, “What does Dad need most right now?” I became more focused and present with him. I found that as I took a step forward, the way would open up and reveal the next step. I could not have imagined what lay ahead, but I could do the next right thing in the face of each new challenge. I didn’t even know what the right thing was, but I relied on guidance and grace.
In the last week of my dad’s life, our family gathered around him. It was a precious time of tears and laughter, music, and memories. After he passed, there were all the things to take care of. We were exhausted, and it felt overwhelming. My brother said, “We just need to do the next right thing.” There it was again! He shared that his daughter, Daphne, had learned this from one of her favorite movies, Frozen 2. It has a deeply moving song about grief, entitled “The Next Right Thing.” Those words showed up again just as we all needed them.
Every path presents changes and challenges that stretch our capacity. We may be facing a daunting task or a difficult decision, and doubt and anxiety creep in. Grief and loss can leave us feeling numb and even paralyzed. The world itself looks like a huge mess right now, and it’s easy to get discouraged. We’re tired, after all. What can we do? What is needed in this moment? If we choose one right thing to do, that will lead to the next one.
Anne Lamott writes in Almost Everything about the paradox ever present in life – the mixture of ordinariness, turmoil, beauty, compassion, and pain. “How can we celebrate paradox, let alone manage at all, knowing how scary the future may be….? We remember that because truth is paradox, something beautiful is also going on. So while trusting that and waiting for revelation, we do the next right thing. We tell the truth. We march, make dinner, have rummage sales to raise relief funds…..
We do the smallest, realest, most human things. We water that which is dry.”
As we step ahead with grit and grace, bringing the love that we are into every situation, we realize that we can do hard things. We can touch another life and heal our own. As we stumble toward the light, we experience the paradox of our brokenness and wholeness, our weakness and our strength. We find our way through the darkness, one small step at a time.
Rise & Rock On,
Elisa J. Juarez