This morning I attended a meeting of The Order of the Daughters of the King. There’s a lot to say about The Daughters that I’m not going to say here, but for now, I’ll tell you that we are dedicated to prayer and service, and we meet once a month, September – May.
The guest speaker today was from the Atlanta Mission (https://atlantamission.org/). There’s a WHOLE lot more to say about the Atlanta Mission, and I highly recommend you check out their website and help where you can, but that’s not really the point of my story today.
Before our guest speaker, Michelle, was introduced, Sue Burtenshaw, the wife of the late Fr. Noel Burtenshaw, spoke for a few minutes. Fr. Burtenshaw, who passed away a couple of months ago, was a beloved priest at St. Martins. Sue had come to thank The Daughters for the amazing reception that the ladies of our Order arranged for Fr. Noel’s funeral, and she also gifted us with some “Noelisms” that she had captured over the years.
Here’s the “Noelism” that caught my complete attention this morning:
Choose the right next thing.
Our group and the Endowment Fund from St. Martins donated all sorts of home goods to the Atlanta Mission to help women who are moving from their shelter program into their own apartments. There was more than Michelle could take in her car, so I offered to load whatever I could into my SUV and take it to the Atlanta Mission offices after the meeting.
When I got to the offices, Michelle wasn’t there yet, but there was a woman sitting on a bench in the shade. She wanted to know if they were open today, and I told her I had no idea but asked her if she wanted to sit in my air-conditioned car while we waited for Michelle. She declined because she was charging her phone and waiting for a call from her son.
When Michelle got there, we unloaded all of the stuff with the help of this lovely, soft-spoken lady, Leah, who was waiting for her son’s call. Leah has two children. Her 12-year-old daughter, who has some mental health issues, lives with Leah's mother. Her 8-year-old son lives with his father in Atlanta. Leah needed help.
The Mission offices are not open on the weekends. Michelle and I had discussed taking all of the donations to her house so she could take them to the office on Monday, but in the end, we decided to go ahead and take them to the office today. Had we not, I don’t know where Leah would have gone.
When we left, Michelle took Leah to the Mission’s emergency shelter so that she could get the services she needed.
As I was leaving, I gave Leah my best wishes and told her she and her children would be in my prayers. She told us that things were hard. And she told us how startlingly easy it was for a family to fall apart. I told her that she had taken a step today towards asking for help and getting the help that she needed.
Let me be clear. The only thing I did for Leah was that I treated her with respect and caring—something I try to do for anyone I meet. But what was really remarkable was what Leah did for herself and her family. It takes a lot of courage to ask for help. It will take more courage to accept help and to develop enough self-awareness and self-love to make lasting changes.
But the only way to start is to CHOOSE THE RIGHT NEXT THING.
I’m like every other human on earth. I screw up all the time. I make terrible choices. I deliberately avoid what is good because it’s hard.
It doesn’t help to beat ourselves up about our past. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t learn. That’s not to say that we don’t need to make amends and ask for forgiveness.
But the only thing we can control is what we do next.
So, take power in your ability to CHOOSE THE RIGHT NEXT THING. And then choose the next right next thing.