when we're all doing the best we can.

On Monday, the HBH (Hot Black Husband) and I loaded the boys into the car and set off for a grand adventure in the woods. We try and hit up nature at least once come the weekend, because there’s just something about getting out of the house and rolling around in the dirt. Mind you, we also have visions of training up our own army of hiking soldiers who obediently follower their commander (me) and chief (him) up and down hills, over and under treacherous urban landscapes.

Then we remember that said envisioned army of hiking soldiers are one and three years old and that “hiking” along with all forms of the word “obedience” can sometimes be far from their toddler vocabularies.

So instead we frolic.

We stop and pause to smell – not roses – but everything else that catches a little boy’s attention. We stomp in mud puddles, much to Mama’s chagrin, and we say “Woof woof!” to every dog along the way. We begin to shriek when we’re hungry for food, (uniquely characteristic of child numero dos who grew in my womb), and we ask for piggy-back rides atop Daddy’s already-tired shoulders. We play Follow the Leader, until we realize that it’s just Mama and Daddy playing said game, and the one for whom the game was invented continues to lag fifty feet behind dangerously poking a stick at a petrified pile of dog doo.

It takes us an hour to trek half a mile, and by the time we reach the .5 mile marker, we begin to laugh, for according to our calculations it’s going to take an additional four hours to make it all the way around the 2.67 mile lake.

At least.

So we turn around. We ask the boys if they’re ready for the next adventure. We run forwards and we hop backwards; we skip and we jump and we take a few more minutes to peer into the trickling creek to our right. We practice our balance walking on the line in the middle of the pavement, and we wave hello to all the people who pass us – because we are certainly not the passing type today.

I remember those days, they say to us wistfully. We smile. We nod. We kiss the writhing baby we’re not-so-successfully attempting to wrangle towards the car.

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Urban nature.

And when we finally get back to the car, when tears are wiped and tummies are fed and upcoming adventures of frozen yogurt is bribed, we, the commander and the chief, look at each other and grin.

We did it.

We got out into nature and we “hiked” with our littles.

We conquered the Great Outdoors as best we knew how, even if we didn’t make it that far, even if a sweat was far from broken, even if it sometimes felt like there were more tears than smiles.

And isn’t this true of all of us? Aren’t we all merely, simply doing the best we can?

It’s a phrase I’ve come across quite a bit lately: Brene Brown writes about doing the best we can extensively in her newest book, Rising Strong. Aren’t we all doing the best we can, she asks? Do you believe this about yourself and about others? And how does believing these words true teach us to give more grace and to offer more mercy and to throw out more love?

Seth Haines continues with her sentiments in his recent spiritual memoir, Coming Clean. At one point in the narrative, he gives new words to Jesus’ old prayer: Father, forgive them …for they’re doing the best they know how. 

They’re doing the best they can, said Jesus, on his way to the cross. 

Because then and now, this they’re is really just me.

I’m too quick to anger and I’m too quick to curse. I’m too slow let go of my expectations of others and of myself and offer grace. I’m not always prone to listen more than I speak, even though I’d really, really like to be a good listener. And sometimes, deep down in the depths of my gut, I have a hard time believing that others are doing the very best they can.

So, call this another resolution for the new year, or simply the message I need to hear, but this is my new phrase. I want these words to ring through my head and echo in my mind when I’m in conversation with others. I want this belief to change me.

Could it be the same for you?

We’re all doing the best we can: do you believe it? Can you believe it? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the phrase …and on hiking with littles, if applicable. 

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9 thoughts on “when we're all doing the best we can.

  1. Oh, Cara. Another post I have saved to my Favorites tab. Another insight that needs to be included in your book. Or your next book. We used to call Aaron our pokey little puppy, for our “hikes” in nature followed much the same lines. He took utter delight in stopping to observe the tiniest of things. But it helped US to slow down and to notice things we would otherwise have just hurried on past, or took for granted. A half mile of THAT kind of living–totally immersed in the beautiful details of Creation and at one with The Moment–was and is worth a marathon of good intentions and agendas. Thank you for reminding me.

    1. 1. The pokey little puppy. 2. The next book. 🙂 🙂 🙂 3. “immersed in the beautiful details of Creation and at one with The Moment.” ….THESE are favorites you just wrote to me. 🙂

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  2. We used to play Pooh sticks with Tana and Riann. Winnie the Pooh played it, hence the name. Each person find a stick, about 6 inches long. Stand on one side of the bridge, on the side where the water is coming towards you. Drop the stick in the water, and go across the bridge to watch the sticks come out the other side. First stick, first winner, second stick, second winner, and so on. Hopefully each stick looks a bit different, so they can be recognized when they come under the bridge. Of, course, this is done on a no car traffic bridge!!

    1. Oh man: I can’t WAIT to read it, a) because it’s yours and b) because it’s at Amber’s site (and since I’m newly sparkle-eyed before her, I look forward to it).

      Cara Meredith

      writer, speaker, musician. carameredith.com

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  3. Cara,

    You’re bringing back memories. I enjoyed coming along for your family’s “hike”….and I just listened to that portion of Brene Brown’s book, Rising Strong so your words rang true 🙂

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