We’re creating a new Guideposts.org

It’s faster, it’s mobile friendly—and we’d love you to have a sneak peekClick here to preview

Seeds of Devotion
By Julia Attaway

When Problems Feel Too Big to Handle

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.