Looking Back to Move Forward

We zipped down the Indian Nation Turnpike. I handed back a handful of pretzels to each of my boys and had an encouraging thought: this is going smoothly.

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Just shy of two years ago, I was preparing to drive with my toddler son from St. Louis to northwest Oklahoma. We had been on a number of road trips of that length, but my husband had always been with us. He had a conflict this time, so I had to make the drive by myself.

I was nervous about being the only adult in the car. Would I be able to drive safely and to keep my son content? Would we have to pull over every time Jackson needed something? Would it take forever and a day to make the trip?

Despite my worries, Jackson and I made the trip just fine.

Since then, we’ve added another kiddo to our family, and I’ve been the only adult on four more drives of at least seven hours. I’ve learned from each one, and it’s no longer a big, scary thing.

That’s why I was so encouraged the other day.

I did something that scared me. Then I kept doing it until it wasn’t scary anymore.

As I’ve shared in my last two posts, I’m in a new season. I’m doing things I’ve never done before (this blog!), and I’m doing familiar things in a new way. Some days it can feel like I don’t know how to do anything anymore.

But on that drive last week, I remembered that I’ve been in this place before, and because I was willing to keep going, I figured it out.

Nine years ago, Jonathan and I had just become the new owners of an existing gelato and coffee shop. Working the counter was no problem, but learning the ropes of business ownership, especially bookkeeping, was a steep learning curve for me. I started with zero accounting knowledge, but with help from the former owner, I began piecing together how to use QuickBooks. Eventually, I felt okay about the day-to-day bookkeeping tasks, and, to my relief, we had an accountant who handled our quarterly and annual taxes.

Until suddenly we didn’t.  

One fateful day—two days before quarterly taxes were due—we learned why we hadn’t heard from our “bargain” accountant. We’ll just say he was decidedly unavailable until further notice.

I scrambled and struggled to learn how to calculate what we owed to the city, state, and IRS. There were so many forms! Sales tax was straightforward enough, but I wasn’t sure I correctly understood the three different employer withholding forms that lay in front of me. I didn’t even know what the “Division of Employment Security” was, but I muddled through and filled out that form too. I wrote a stack of checks and hoped for the best.

I made some mistakes that first time—and the second—but I kept at it. We found a new accountant who helped me understand the forms that initially mystified me. I made a folder with a checklist on the front so I could keep all the relevant information in one place. Slowly but surely, I learned how to do quarterly taxes myself.

Fast forward a few years. We’d chosen to close our shop. A friend told me he was looking for a part-time bookkeeper for his business and asked if I would be interested.

I experienced the strangest sensation: confidence in what I’d learned.

Because I’d refused to give up--even when I was frustrated and overwhelmed and convinced that I just wasn’t a numbers person--I finally felt comfortable with my former nemesis, QuickBooks. I worked as my friend’s bookkeeper for over a year, and, crazily enough, I enjoyed it!

I’m now in a different, unfamiliar place. I’m feeling overwhelmed more often than I’d like, and I’m wondering if I’ll ever figure this out.

Maybe you are too.

Just as that turnpike moment encouraged me, I want to encourage you as well. Think back on an area or two in your life where you’ve seen growth and progress.

Remember how hard it was at first? Now remember the day when you paused for a moment and realized that it was no longer such a struggle? What a feeling!

 Don't worry, Dad. I can launch my camera with one button, and I didn't look at the screen while I was moving. :)

Don't worry, Dad. I can launch my camera with one button, and I didn't look at the screen while I was moving. :)

Now hear me as I remind us both:

we can do it again.

As Hilary Yancey recently reminded me (and the rest of her Instagram followers), we can do hard things!

Let’s take a look back and be encouraged. Then let's take the next step forward. Let’s keep showing up and working hard. It will pay off down the road.

What about you?

What hard thing are you facing right now? How are you working to keep going, keep learning, and keep showing up even when you're scared?

Leave a comment so we can learn and grow together!


Related Resources

I really enjoy Tsh Oxenreider's podcast, The Simple Show. I heard episode 128 just after drafting this post. If you're establishing or revamping your working rhythm, it's worth a listen!