How to do hard things
(that could change the world)
I’m knee-deep in doing hard things. Lots of them. And I feel completely incapable, unprepared, unsuccessful, and overwhelmed. No surprise, writing a blog this morning to tell other people how to do hard things was the last thing on my mind when I sat down at my computer.
For inspiration, I started my work day by reading a friend’s blog, who talked about a hard thing she just did. She stopped and had a conversation with some strangers in front of an abortion clinic. She thanked the nice people (no, they weren’t crazies) who were standing in a line on “abortion day,” waiting for overwhelmed women to come by and talk to them about their options. Which they did. And nobody went inside and killed their babies.
It’s not what most people do on a cold day when they’re driving by a line of people holding signs, especially people outside abortion clinics.
Yesterday, I was working on my capstone project for my Master’s in Theology, Arts, and Culture, from Kilns College. I spent the day cloistered away at the library writing about—wait for it—how to get involved in a social justice issue that overwhelms you.
Yep, that’s correct. I’m researching and writing about how ordinary people can perform simple acts of justice and thereby accomplish extraordinary things. Meanwhile, someone 4 states away is actually doing it. Read her cool, short narrative here.
Do you feel the tension? We all feel it. We all know there are hard things out there that somebody needs to do. And we tend to assume that the somebody isn’t us. We’re not experts on human trafficking or immigration reform or overturning death sentences. We think it’s all too hard. The world is too big, too bad, too hard to change.
But we all know that change happens one person at a time. One hard decision at a time. One caring individual at a time, reaching out and pulling someone in. Every hard decision changes somebody’s story. Read about some incredible transformation stories here.
Listening, learning, giving, loving, advocating, rescuing.
One little decision at a time.
“What is possible when a generation stops assuming that someone else will take care of the brokenness in the world – or that someone else will capitalize on current opportunities – and realizes that they are called to take action?”― Alex Harris, Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations
How do you do hard things?
One at a time. One brief step forward. One handshake. One question. One smile. One cup of coffee. One dinner. One meeting. One book. One class. One friendship.
Justice is complicated, yes. But it’s also very simple. It just takes a little bit of bravery to do that thing that bothers you and scares you. Just take a little step toward it.
Take a step toward life, even. We all have a hundred, slightly-frightening things that cross our paths every day that we successfully avoid engaging or confronting. What person might you be if none of those fears existed? If you had conquered every one of them?
Just do one small hard thing. And then you’ll be courageous enough to do the next hard thing, which previously looked scary, but it now just looks like the last thing you’ve done. And then you do the next hard thing, which previously looked impossible, but now it just looks like the last thing you’ve done (a thing which no longer looks scary). That’s how bravery works.
That’s how simple acts of kindness become monumental catalysts for change.