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Episode 44 - You Can Do Hard Things


There came a day when suddenly I realized I didn’t even know how to turn on the hot tub to the swimming pool. We had lived in that house for 10 years, and not once did I turn the hot tub on myself. Brian always did it. Whether it was for us, for the kids and their friends, for just for me, he always took care of it. Same with the pool equipment and filter baskets. Did you know that creatures, alive creatures, hang out or maybe they just get stuck, but there are alive creatures in the pool’s filter baskets? Oh, my goodness. Of course, I never knew this before because I never emptied the filter baskets. Brian did. Same with the sprinkler system. I didn’t know how to operate the automatic timer. Oh, there’s just so many other things that I had no idea how to do because I’d never done them before. And at first glance, everything looked too hard. Looking back, these things individually weren’t really so hard. But collectively, they sent me over the edge.

I was in a panic. And I was mad. Mad that I had been left behind to take care of all these things that I didn’t want to take care of. Ours was an inside/outside agreement. I took care of all the things inside the house and he took care of all the things outside. Well, that’s not exactly true. He took care of a lot of things inside the house, too. He was a treasure. But, there wasn’t one thing I wanted to take care of outside except for furnishing and decorating the back patio, which to me was just the best room in the house. The landscaping I merely enjoyed. He took care of it all.

So, imagine the day when I suddenly realized it was now all my responsibility. All of it. It was too overwhelming. So, I had a good cry. Or two.

A friend of mine had told me long before when we were talking about business related things that if she didn’t know how to do something she just looked it up on YouTube. Another friend does the same thing. She’s literally fixed things like a refrigerator, her car, replaced plumbing all by watching a YouTube video. Apparently, if you need to know how to do it it’s on YouTube. So guess what? When I needed to know what to do with my sprinkler system when the temperature dropped, I watched a guy on YouTube drain the line. When I needed to replace the weedeater line, I YouTubed it. I literally started doing things I never knew I could do. Okay, so there was one day when the dogs were left in the backyard by themselves too long and they started chewing the boards away on the gate. I’m pretty sure those boards were already needing to be replaced and were soft with wear, so they were able to pull back the boards and escape. So, since I had decided that hard things weren’t really that hard for me anymore, I determined to patch that gate myself with some boards I found in the garage. I knew Brian had a nail gun and a compressor. But of course, I’d never used those before. So I whipped out my phone, watched a few videos, and voilà, good as new. I felt so empowered by my newfound abilities that I got out that hedge trimmer and trimmed all the bushes. I bought weed and feed and fertilized that entire ½ acre front yard with a push spreader. I dug up dying rose bushes (and you know they were dying because no one in our house knew how to care for rose bushes, right?) So I dug those up and re-landscaped the whole front yard all by myself. All by myself. Then I moved to the backyard and did the same thing. I power washed my driveway, all the side walks, and the patio in the back. Anything I needed to know how to do, YouTube became my source. Now it’s true, not one of these things are really too hard to do. I’m sure someone listening probably does all these things themselves and they’d say, “eh, no big deal.” It’s true. But what made it seem too hard was the fact that 1) I didn’t want to be doing these things, and 2) the only reason I was having to do this now was because my husband died. And both of those together made everything seem just too hard.

But what seemed to have happened was, I thought something was hard because I had never done it before, but once I found out how to do it, it wasn’t so scary anymore. I found out that I could do hard things. And those hard things became integrated into my life as just another skill and ability that I had. It expanded me.

It expanded me so much so that when I bought my new house, the house I’m in now, the first thing I did was rip out all of the landscaping, hacked down three giant, overgrown cedar bushes (by myself!) With pair of loppers (I’m pretty sure that’s not what they’re called) and a jig saw. I pulled up more rose bushes, because…you know. And totally re-landscaped the whole front yard. You know why I did it? Because I knew I could do hard things.

There’s a saying, “She believed she could, so she did.” I’m not sure where it originated, and no, I didn’t even bother looking it up. But my daughter wrote that about me in a sweet jar of affirmations she made for my birthday one year. To think that your daughter believes that way about you…well, I couldn’t let her down. If she believed I could, then I’d better believe it, too.

There’s a Bible verse that some would say supports this saying. And that’s Philippians 4:13. It says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” This is another “saying” that requires a certain level of believing. “She believed she could through Christ, so she did.” Now, I know there’s a lot of controversy around this particular verse with regards to its use. Many theologians bristle when people use it as their motivational verse to power through something, solve a problem, or even win a football game. But when the Apostle Paul wrote this, he was talking to the friends who were concerned for him, telling them about the circumstances he’d recently experienced. And those circumstances included times of abundant provisions, but also times of extreme poverty. And Paul is basically telling them, “Even if I went from having it all to having nothing, no matter what circumstances I’m in, no matter the problems I face, or the suffering I encounter, no matter how hard things are, my joy doesn’t come from having my problems solved. I can do all these hard things with joy because I have Jesus.” Jesus was strengthening him, counseling him, guiding him, encouraging him all the way. In it all.

So, I’m so grateful for all the knowledgeable people who put their expertise out there on the internet so the rest of us could figure out the hard things.

But what if there are some things that look hard, feel hard, seem to be too hard to figure out for ourselves, what if there were no YouTube video instructions for those? Like how to move forward after the death of a loved one, or how to forgive someone who has deeply hurt us, or how to stay in a marriage after infidelity.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Paul gives no indication that there were resolutions to his problems. But that in the problems, he could do the hard things because he had the Source. Could we say that Jesus was Paul’s YouTube? Would that be sacrilegious? Okay, maybe, so let’s not go that far.

Friend, you can do the hard things, too. And maybe, figuring out some of that will bring a sense of peace that makes you feel like it’s not as hard anymore. But you find that sense of peace and joy in the midst of it in Jesus, your Source for all things necessary. A few more lines down in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he tells them, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.“ So previously he told them that everything he needed in the past was found and satisfied in Jesus. And now, with his own experience, he’s telling his friends the same. That they can trust Jesus to meet them in their place of need, to bring strength to do hard things…whatever that might be.

And here I am, friend, telling you out of my own experience of facing hard things: There is a God who supplies the needs of his beloved. There is a God that comes alongside with strength to persevere, to give direction, to give encouragement to do hard things. Won’t you let Jesus be your source of strength and joy in all that you’re facing and all that’s ahead? Whatever it is that you think is too hard, you have someone right beside you with all the knowledge, all the expertise, and all the strength to see you through. He is your Source. And with Him, friend, you can do hard things.

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