There are a few reasons I've been listening to this song, other than the fact that my Pandora station gets angry if I play more than 34 hours of "free radio" and won't let me listen to it after 40 hours. I think I'd completely forgotten how to go one step at a time before Sunday. I don't know what prompted my sudden moment of panic. I was sitting quietly in church, listening to the guest pastor preach about Luke 18 (the Pharisee and the Tax Collector) and it hit me: this program is ending, I have to figure out classes for next semester, I have to figure out what I need to do about extracurriculars, I have to, I have to... I have to. I have been trying to leap over five steps in a single bound, and that doesn't work for anyone except Superman.
The nervous, queasy feeling crept into my stomach. "Make a to do list, Hilary!" it hissed. "Write down all the lunches, dinners, plans, coffees, classes, etc that you need to accomplish. Get it done already!" And as I began to think about all these things, and get lost in the murky waters of "should have already finished" and "why didn't I do that before I had these other things to do!" - I heard the pastor say "Mercy." It was in a sentence, I'm sure. But I only hear the word. "Mercy."
This week "mercy" has been about "one step at a time." Jordin Sparks and the guest pastor at church probably didn't coordinate their messages to me this week: but nonetheless, I hear mercy in her song. We live and we learn, she sings above the steady, clock-like beat. We find the reasons why one step at a time. I've been plagued by feeling like I'm not on top of my work here, feeling like this semester is slipping away from me like water you cup in your hands only to watch it cascade through your fingers. I have made more to-do lists on more Post-it notes than the inventor of Post-its. I have written schedules, I have crossed out schedules. I have fretted. I have tried NOT to fret which then makes me fret more internally. But there it is: one step. Mercy.
Sunday the things in front of me were lunch with a friend from church at Southside 815 in Old Town Alexandria, and spending time with people in my program. Sunday the things in front of me included some homework but also some rest. And going one step at a time meant forgoing the judgment and the post-its.
Monday was different, Tuesday different from Monday. It's one step at a time. It's time's mercy to us: that it passes, but that there is time enough for the things in our care. There is time enough in the day. I listen to Jordin Sparks sing this song because it reminds me that I can't be powerful enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, successful enough, or organized enough to do more than this day's work well. Part of this day's work can be preparing for the future days, but I am and ought to be chiefly concerned with living well today. It is mercy because as chaotic and frantic as my mind gets, my ears still communicate the message of "one step at a time" to my brain.
So, dear readers. Mercy. One Step at a Time. I don't know if it is like learning to fly (or falling in love), but I do know that life is good, going slow is good, and that all shall indeed be well.
PS. Watch the video! Jordin Sparks' "One Step at a Time". And sing out loud to your computer.