Doing it Really Hard, Probably Not Doing it Right

A wall in our mudroom features a display of some of our oft-repeated family rules and reminders. One of them is: “If You’re Doing It Really Hard You’re Probably Not Doing It Right.” It’s a bit counter-intuitive, right? But I really think it’s true. 

In our family, this rule is there mostly to prevent children from Hulk-ripping handles off of things by pulling them in the exact wrong direction or deciding to crowbar something open with a table knife, rather than, say, turning the lid.

I think it applies more philosophically too, though. While there is a time and a place for great effort in the face of continued difficulties (like, say, math homework), in my own life, I’ve found that the things I was fighting the hardest to do were just not God’s plan for my life. Instead, when I cooperate with God, things go more smoothly.

I can’t help but be reminded of this family policy when I read the story of Simon Peter putting out into the deep (see Luke 5:1) in the morning at the behest of Jesus, after a long and fruitless night of fishing without Him. Peter, with remarkable humility and obedience for a professional fisherman taking fishing advice from a carpenter, does as Jesus says. Their efforts were so fruitful that their nets begin to tear and their boats are in danger of sinking.

It’s so easy to get mired in my own worries or pre-conceptions, so easy to dismiss as a crazy notion what might really be the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We don’t want to use false humility or fear as an excuse if God is calling us to try something new, or even to try something in a new way when we feel like we’ve failed at it already. Just look at the unlikely long-term plans that God had for Peter, an uneducated, small-town fisherman!

What might He have in store for us if we can stop fighting so hard to do it our way, and just do it His way?

We don’t want to use false humility or fear as an excuse if God is calling us to try something new, or even to try something in a new way when we feel like we’ve failed at it already. // @kendra_tierney Click To Tweet

This novena is for surrender to God’s will. Have you ever prayed it?

Kendra Tierney is a forty-two-year-old mother of nine and wife of one living in and working on a big old fixer-upper house in Los Angeles. She’s a homeschooler and a regular schooler and is relishing the new freedom from carpooling that’s come with a sixteen-year-old in the house. Her new book, The Catholic All Year Compendium, Liturgical Living for Real Life, is here. You can find her first book, A Little Book About Confession, here, her blog here, and her word art here. She is a contributing author to our Works of Mercy Study: Misericordia


  • Reply
    Julie Grunklee
    September 5, 2019 at 10:04 am

    Thank you Kendra! Yes, I find when I am struggling to accomplish something, it generally isn’t what God wants me to do. However, when I surrender my struggles, fears, doubts & frustrations to Him, He shows me the way He wants me to go. How He wants me to accomplish whatever task it is. Being open to being led step by step lightens the load and allows me to glide forward in ease and grace.

  • Reply
    Heatherle Chambers
    September 6, 2019 at 12:20 am

    I am a little bummed that I can’t post that saying in my middle school classroom because there would be that one kiddo who would turn it into something dirty…. they totally need that message. I spent today chasing them around assuring them that they did in fact need to read the directions to the assignment, but they didn’t need to make it any more complicated than what the directions were telling them.

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