When days get hard, I’m thankful for the words of my grandmother Estella: “Just keep doing what needs to be done.”
I’ve always trusted my grandmother’s advice for how to handle hard days because she saw plenty of them in her life. The second oldest of half a dozen siblings who grew up working a family ranch in Wyoming, Grandma Estella lost her older sister to typhoid fever at the age of seven. She lived through two world wars, the Great Depression, and the loss of her first husband whose death left her alone with three children under the age of five, one of whom was disabled. She worked full time as a bookkeeper until she was well into her 70’s, buried a second husband who was angry and abusive, and cared for her aging mother who lived to be 103 years old.
Grandma Estella had a wicked sense of humor that made her eyes twinkle, and a giggle that was contagious. She was tough and strong and funny and brave. She loved horses and blackberry pie.
So when days get hard for me, I think of Grandma Estella and her advice: “Are there dishes to wash, meals to cook, errands to run, laundry to fold, bills to pay, flowers to plant, pets to feed, children to bathe? Whatever it is, just keep putting one foot in front of the other, get the things done that need doing, and get yourself through this one day. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”
My grandmother found joy and comfort in keeping up with the rhythms and responsibilities of daily tasks. And I find the same is true for me. There is something soothing about putting things in order, isn’t there? Knowing that we are caring for the things we can, and leaving the rest? It’s why my daughter likes to clean her room when she’s feeling stressed. And why a friend enjoys hand-washing dishes after an emotional conversation. Doing what needs to be done, doing the next thing, taking care of life’s small tasks is helpful and healing. And it’s not just me, my grandmother, and a few other people I know who think so.
Finding joy in the daily rhythms of life is how God asks us to live.
When the Israelites were living as exiles in a foreign land, with no immediate relief in sight, this is what God instructed them to do:
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. …For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:4-8,11)
God’s people were told to continue doing life, with all of its responsibilities and seasons. They were encouraged to celebrate weddings and new babies. To believe that their future was secure, even while they waited in what surely felt like an insecure place. And that’s what God’s people are called to do today.
When days are hard and the times and our culture seem unfriendly and uncertain. When we’re feeling downhearted. Our job is to continue living our lives with the assurance that God’s promises are still true.
Like my grandmother Estella, whose faith was formed, tested, and matured one day at a time over a life that spanned 92 years, we can find comfort and hope in the daily rhythms of life today, trusting God with our tomorrows.
Because there is joy to be found in doing the next thing and celebrating the happy moments as they come.
What daily routines bring you comfort? How are you celebrating your life today while you wait for your tomorrow?