Do what you can with what you have.
Your job is to live well, embracing what you do know, what you can do, and who you can be — today. If you wait until you have enough information or ability, the perfect opportunity or circumstances, or exactly the right mood, mindset, or physical makeup, you’re pushing pause on your life.
Even if you choose to stop living, the clock does not stop ticking.
As a person who has pushed pause on her life — more than once, I might add — I get why we tend to do this.
We’re tempted to wait until just the right moment to do the right thing or a “big” thing. And while we wait, we do “no” thing. We want to wait until we’ve reached the perfect age or have the perfect relation- ship. We want to wait until we feel brave enough, strong enough, good enough, or motivated enough. We want to wait until someone gives us the opportunity or notices we’re standing there waiting for them to notice us. We wait because we feel afraid, hopeless, unsure, or unimportant.
And while we wait on just the right moment to care for our souls, deal with our pain, or change our outlook, life can pass us by.
But never forget, you have the ability to choose. Each and every day, you can choose to do something that honors the girl inside you.
Choose to see what God has placed inside you to give to the world, and look for ways to use those attributes.
Choose to value the power of a satisfied soul enough to pour in what brings life to you and offer that life to others from your abundant overflow.
Choose to face your pain and acknowledge your hard places. Refuse to ignore the hurt or the ache and, instead, actively seek healing, trusting that your pain can be a gift to your present.
You don’t honor your girl by passively leaving the door open, letting time pass, and hoping that she might one day walk through it.
You search for her.
You call her out.
During my college years, “doing what I can” sometimes looked like getting out of bed in the morning and making it through the day without running to the bathroom to catch the flood of tears. In this season, I learned that if doing one basic thing to survive is all I can do, that’s enough.
In my twenties, “doing what I can” was rediscovering the value God had given me and using my gifts in small ways here and there. In this season, I learned that God wastes nothing — even the random, seemingly disconnected segments of my life.
During my thirties, “doing what I can” involved fighting to find joy in mundane days of changing diapers, not getting a paycheck, doing dishes, and finding a gazillion ways to fix chicken. In this season, I learned the art of cultivating my own soul.
And my forties? “Doing what I can” has meant being honest about the pain of my past, unlearning the skill of being numb, and opening myself up to the beauty of authenticity and transparency. In this season, I’m learning that the girl I lost somewhere along the way has been there all along, waiting for me to do the work of finding her.
That’s why I’m so passionate about helping you do the same thing.
It starts with doing what you can with what you have to work with today, and trusting that over time it will make a difference.
You just never know what can come tomorrow from doing what you can do today.
Sometimes it’s as simple as embracing what brings you joy and fills your soul.
I’ve always wondered how Mother Teresa became Mother Teresa — a woman renowned worldwide for taking care of others.
After all the accolades and attention, the bottom line is that Mother Teresa loved on people. She knew that serving the needy filled her soul, and she faithfully allowed her life to overflow to others. She didn’t start with fame or notoriety. She didn’t wait until she had just the right set of circumstances, the ideal amount of money, or a certain number of people paying attention. She simply honored the love in her heart and the call on her life and embraced the opportunities she had to make a difference as she could.
Sometimes doing what you can involves pushing through pain.
Almost fifty years ago, Joni Eareckson Tada became a paraplegic after diving into a lake and severing her spinal cord. She has not had use of her legs or arms since she was a teenager. During the darkest times of her life and seasons of great physical and emotional pain, she decided to rediscover her love of art and figure out how to once again participate in a creative experience. Joni learned how to paint by holding a paintbrush with her mouth. Her artwork began selling, and this inspired her to do more with her life.
Many people know about Joni because, ten years after her accident, she wrote her own autobiography, sharing the story of her difficult journey. A few years later, that story became a movie. For many years, Joni has used that platform to champion the cause of the physically disabled and tell people about her love for God.
But ultimately, Joni really focused on doing what she could with what she had. She had a creative spirit. She had a mouth. She had a paintbrush. Maya Angelou had a painful past and a pen. She did what she could with what she had and is now remembered as a brilliant poet who gave words to thousands of people who make sense of their experiences through her writings.
Sometimes doing what you can opens doors that you never could have imagined.
As Sara Blakely sold fax machines door to door, becoming an entrepreneur was the last thing on her mind. But one day, she cut the feet off her pantyhose and wore the cropped hose underneath her pants to smooth out her panty lines.1
Voila! Spanx was born. Aren’t we all grateful she reached for those scissors?
Doing the best you can with what you have has a funny way of giving birth to surprising new paths and perspectives. In fact, God proves over and over in the Scriptures that He loves to use people who are willing to do what they can with what they have.
When Moses questioned God’s call on his life, God asked Moses to use what he had — a common stick used to guide sheep — to deliver half a million people out of Israel (Exodus 4:1–5).
When as a young man David experienced a burning passion to defend God’s glory, God enabled him to do what a whole army was unwilling to do. David faced a giant and knocked him out with what he had—a pebble and a slingshot (1 Samuel 17:22–40).
When Jesus and His disciples were discussing solutions for feeding five thousand hungry people, a little boy allowed the disciples to have his five fish and two loaves of bread. He was willing to use what he had, make his next meal available for God’s use, and believe that Jesus could do something with what little he had to give (John 6:8–10).
God not only invites you to do what you can with what you have, He requires you to do so. In order for you to experience the fullness of what He can do in and through your life, He calls for you to engage in your life.
In Matthew 25:14–30, Jesus tells the story of a man who entrusted different levels of wealth in the form of talents to three of his servants before he planned to be absent for a time. Upon his return, the man asked for an account of those assets. He expected that while he was away, the servants would use what they had to return more to him than they’d received.
The servant who had received five talents doubled his investment and now had ten. The servant who had been given two talents doubled his investment and now had four. But the man who’d been given one talent did nothing with what he had. Afraid he would bumble the job, he simply sat around and waited. And his master showed no sympathy for the servant’s reasoning to play it safe and hope for the best. Instead, he chided him for his failure to try.
When you choose to do what you can with what you have, you move from waiting on your girl to walk through the door to inviting her to come in.
It may seem as if you have a lot of work to do to get to the girl in you. But don’t be overwhelmed by what you don’t know. Don’t get bogged down by what you can or can’t do right now. You don’t have to have the perfect perspective, feel completely satisfied in your soul, or be totally past your pain.
You only need to be faithful to do what you can with what you have and what you know right now.
Maybe you can’t afford canvas or an art class, but what if you use your pencil and draw regularly in your sketchbook?
Maybe you can’t quit your day job to write full-time, but could you commit to putting words on paper three hours a week?
Maybe you can’t afford the four-year degree, but how about starting with one class at the community college?
The debt may seem insurmountable, but what if you tackle it bit by bit, one bill at a time?
It may seem impossible to carve out any time for what fills you, but what about starting with five minutes, hiding from your kids in the bathroom for a bit of peace and quiet while pretending to go potty?
The clutter could be crowding you out of your own home, but can you set a timer for fifteen minutes each day to conquer one corner, one box, or one stack?
The loneliness may seem overwhelming, but are you able to fight back by inviting a new friend over for coffee and dessert?
Choose every day to wake up and find one thing you can do to honor the beautiful being you are and the beautiful life only you can live. Before you know it, you’ll see the girl in you coming out of the shadows.
Watch the Video for She’s Still There
1. Jill Becker, “Shaping Sara Blakely: Meet the Billionaire Founder of Spanx,” Success.com, December 7, 2015, http://www.success.com/article/ shaping-sara-blakely-meet-the-billionaire-founder-of-spanx. Accessed January 2017.
Excerpted with permission from She’s Still There by Chrystal Evans Hurst, copyright Chrystal Evans Hurst.
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