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The Next Step

In the Introduction to the Book of Joshua, Eugene Peterson writes in the Message:

“God’s great love and purposes for us are worked out in the messes, storms and sins, blue skies, daily work and dreams of our common lives, working with us as we are and not as we should be.”

This last summer, a friend asked if I would help put together a program for women in the workplace who are struggling with high costs, diminished pay, and higher workloads. They are often the sole parent raising children and keeping homes together with little support. Their fears are huge, at times bordering on terror. Their workload increases daily with stress levels that border on the breaking point. What happens if I lose my job? How do I survive? How do I pay off my huge student loan? What will I do?

My friend’s question to me was, “What is the next step for these women? What path are they to be on? How can we help combat the fear and terror and provide a support system for them?”

“What is the next step? What is the next path?”

As I pondered her concerns and desires, I reflected on her question. These women did all the things they were told they ought to do to be successful. They got college degrees, thought out their career choices carefully and worked hard, but things weren’t working and the future looked hopeless, depressing and downright terrifying.

I thought about the “next steps” in my own life that were not planned for:

  • Two special needs children
  • A mother-in-law with increased care needs
  • The death of  my husband that took me out of early retirement and demanded huge changes as my life was turned upside down and inside out.


Life has a way of altering our plans and our goals, and we find ourselves up against a towering mountain or one step from falling into a precipice.

What is the next step for you? I don’t know. But I do know that when life throws you curve balls, it is a time to stop, reflect, pray and listen to what God may have for you in the moment.

It doesn’t mean you scrap your long term goals. God sees a bigger picture.

Perhaps it is a time for you to get into a relationship with God. Perhaps it is a time of personal growth where you ask yourself, what am I supposed to be learning? Perhaps it is a shift in focus from struggling to developing faith. There may be a detour from your long term goals.

STOP – Reflect – Pray – Listen.

Whatever the next step is for you, when you ask God for His direction for your next step, you will be given strength and courage to take whatever step is required in the moment. Even if it is a different path – a different direction – it will have long term purpose and growth for you.

Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC

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