Aug 4, 2009

Do the Hard Thing

Years ago there was a poster of a young gymnast about to mount a balance beam and the words were a sort of prayer about giving her the strength to do her routine. So many times in my life I instead have prayed for the cup to pass from my lips. I don't want to be this or that anymore, or do this or that anymore or have this or that in my life anymore. Or my personal favorite, Ok Heavenly Father, I got myself in this mess, I got here on my own, but would You get me out of it...and make it snappy. I was wise enough to wait for an answer, but then foolishly followed it haphazardly.

I wasn't trying to be an ungrateful child although it probably came across that way. Recently, I've had some hard things happen to me and around me. And I found myself unable to say my usual words, in fact, they just wouldn't come out.

So I tried a different prayer: What's going here? How do I handle this? Is it permanent?

His answer surprised me first because it came from an unusual source (for me) and second it wasn't the answer I was hoping for in my very human desire to pass up these hard things.

Quietly, thoughtfully, as I prepared my Sunday School lessons, it came to me that the early saints did a lot of hard things. They moved all over the country by wagon or on foot, clearing land, building homes, growing food, following their beloved prophet who gave them hard things from God. Things like leaving your sick family to go on a mission, being forced out of your home in the snow without a 72-hour kit, even plural marriage.

Slowly the answer dawned on me. Do the hard thing. In writing, we often have to make hard choices, change a character to fit the plot, change the plot because it isn't working, put aside a piece for a season, accept criticism...I'm sure you can think of many others.

So I have resolved to the hard thing and keep the poster prayer as my inspiration...don't take the hard thing from me, make me strong enough for it.


  1. As far as writing goes, I'm trying to start a new manuscript, and at this end of the process it sure seems hard! Best wishes as you tackle your hard things, Terri.

  2. OUCH! Yesterday was a hard day and I thought it would just be easier to put aside my WIP for a few weeks while the kids are home for the summer and my husband is transitioning the girl who is going to leave him unemployed. As I was saying my prayer this morning I felt so strongly that was NOT the right decision. That I needed to work on my writing. I was SOOO depressed because that's not the answer I wanted- but sometimes we are asked to do the hard thing. I don't really get it but I'm here typing away.

  3. Very inspirational and thought-provoking, Terri, and, wise.

  4. The "hard" things we have to do and the "easy" things are sometimes so nearly alike it's amazing. For instance, roughing it at camp can be fun, and fairly easy. Yet if we were forced by circumstances to cook over a campfire, sleep in a tent or in the open, and walk all day, we'd consider ourselves quite abused. I've discovered that when I label things as "hard" they are, but when I label them as "interesting" or merely "challenging" they are strangely enough a lot easier to digest. What's in a name? Pretty well just what I put in it. Maybe a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, but perhaps we have more choice than we realize when it comes to how hard things are. And after all, how sweet is that rose if we don't stop to smell it? We'll never know.


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