Blessings are the spiritual equivalent of breathing in, and prayer is the spiritual equivalent of breathing out.
- Monsignor Tom Hartman and Rabbi Marc Gellman
I’m in the process of getting our coop apartment ready to put on the market, as I've mentioned before. I love our home: The building went up in 1933 and has lovely Art Deco details.
Unfortunately it also has a lot of not-so-lovely cracks in the more-than-80-year-old plaster. I’m adept with a putty knife, tape and joint compound, so the work itself doesn’t scare me. However today I scraped a crack in the ceiling and knew with certainty there was big trouble awaiting above. Not quite ready for a cave-in, I cleaned up the mess of chips and dust already on the floor, put the ladder away and sat down to think through my next steps.
Life goes like this a lot for me. I set about doing what I need to do, and then when unexpected trouble hits I pause, sit down and let the dust settle. I pray a bit, think a bit, pray a bit more. If things still feel overwhelming, I find another task to do until I can return to what I need to do. Unlike when I was a teenager, I now have a pretty good sense of when my emotions have inflated a problem beyond its actual size. Even when the problem still feels too big to handle, there’s almost always something I can do to make it a wee bit smaller.
I think that’s all God asks of us: to do the one next thing we can do, instead of panic over what we think we can’t manage. And when we pray a bit, think a bit, and pray a bit more, there’s almost always some small next step we can handle. Even if it’s calling a professional for help.
Julia Attaway is a freelance writer, homeschooler and mother of five. She is the editor of Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood, a book of devotions for first-time moms. She lives in New York.