What to do when you don’t know what to do

Written by Jen Forsthoff
Published on June 09, 2023

We are all in our own season of parenting. Whether you parent littles, teens, or adults, each season is marked by its own joys and challenges. We love the highlight moments when everything is going well. But we are all familiar with the moments that cause us to question if we have the wisdom and strength to move forward. We want to help our children, but we just don’t know how. At times, we can feel overwhelmed. It seems once we have adjusted to the current needs and rhythms of our children, we blink, and the rug is pulled out from under us. It can feel like we are starting from square one . 

For those raising a child with a disability, it can be easy to find ourselves at square one over and over again—perhaps more than we would like to admit. Our highlight moments are short-lived, and hard days seem to outnumber the good days. What worked effectively last week falls short this week. Gains made in one area seem to unexpectedly regress, although we may have continued in our previously successful efforts. Or as you have given time and attention to one area in your child’s life (physical, cognitive, emotional, social, spiritual), another area has regressed and now needs to take priority. It can be overwhelming. We can wrestle with feelings of hopelessness we may never see our child become all they are meant to be.

Be encouraged 

As a parent who has experienced feelings of frustration, inadequacy, and like the need is greater than what I’m able to give, I want to bring encouragement and look at the Word of God with you. First, if you are living in a continual state of overwhelm with your child, remind yourself of what God’s Word says:

  1. We can find rest in him (Matthew 11:28-30).
  2. He supplies daily mercy (Lamentations 3:22-23).
  3. His grace is more than enough for my family (2 Corinthians 12:9).
  4. He will meet every need of my child and myself (Phillipians 4:19).
  5. He will take care of everything that concerns me (Psalm 138:8).

Don’t allow a moment of difficulty to get you stuck in a state of overwhelm. There’s nothing wrong with being honest with ourselves and the Lord. It is healthy to open our hearts to the Lord and bring our petitions before him. But I want to equip you with something for these moments so you don’t get stuck at square one. When you find yourself not knowing what to do, I encourage you to apply a very practical and powerful principle. Simply do the next thing. Though it seems like a mountain is in front of you, don’t look at the mountain. Just think about placing one foot in front of the other. 

Don’t worry about doing everything, just do the next thing. For me, this principle has applied in the circumstances we have faced with our children. When we face challenging seasons and aren’t able to “fix” our kids or fast-forward to victory, we need to just do the next thing. This is how God leads us. According to Psalm 37:23-24, God orders our steps. One step at a time, God will direct and show us the way to go. He leads us through the valley, the difficulty, and overwhelming moments as we simply do the next thing he asks us to do. 

What is the next thing? 

You might be thinking, I want to apply this principle, but what is the next thing? Well maybe the next thing is to stop and pray; ask God for help. Maybe the next thing is to call your child’s teacher and get to the bottom of the situation. Or maybe the next thing is to have a conversation with your child. Perhaps you need to reach out to a parent who might have experience in this type of situation; they can offer godly wisdom and share insight that may help you and your child.

The next thing will be different for you than for me. And it will be different depending on the need of your child in the moment. The purpose of this principle is to turn our focus from the problem that feels overwhelmingly big, and focusing on what we can do: the next thing.

God promises to order our steps. One step at a time, he leads us and our families through the valley. He will lead us through, but we need to do our part and move forward. Move by doing the next thing. The Holy Spirit will show you what the next thing is. Commit your next thing to the Lord, trust him, and he will direct you every step of the way. 

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Jen Forsthoff

Jen Forsthoff is the author of Chosen for Charlie: When God Gifts You With a Special- Needs Child and Champion For Charlie: Rise Up and Advocate For Your Child. Jen and her pastor-husband, Lucas, live in Michigan with their three children. Their oldest, Charlie, was diagnosed with Trisomy 21 at birth and has opened their eyes to the needs of families just like theirs. Raising Charlie, along with her experience as a classroom teacher and in ministry, has fueled Jen’s passion to positively impact families who face the challenge of parenting a child with special needs.  She writes, speaks, and advocates for families who need a message of hope and biblical truth to shape the everyday perspective of their role as the parent and champion for their child. In both ministry and educational platforms, Jen is a voice for parents raising a special-needs child. As God has opened doors through radio, television, community events/organizations, and ministry partnerships, she continues to bring a message of hope to families. You can connect with Jen at jenforsthoff.com and on Instagram @jforsthoff.

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