The Next Right Thing

Brenda Cannon HenleyBy Brenda Cannon Henley
An old friend gave me some good advice in the months following my husband, Ted’s, horrible illness and ensuing death. Ted and I both had waited for the happy relationship we had and thanked God for allowing us to meet, get acquainted, and three years later, get married. We enjoyed so many of the same things, including fishing, the water, travel, and teaching and working with children. Even our wedding was the stuff dreams are made of for us and our friends. Ted and I, along with 14 of our friends and family members, boarded a big, beautiful cruise ship and sailed from Galveston into the Gulf of Mexico where we had ports of call in three cities. What fun we all had.

My husband’s best friend, a Houston judge, married us in a delightful Sunday afternoon ceremony in the ship’s vast nautically decorated library with leather bound volumes lining shelves from floor to ceiling. It was a beautifully vibrant Palm Sunday and one none of us will ever forget.

A scant seven years sped by crammed with memories, fun, friends, and heads and hearts filled with plans for a happy future. The three years we dated and the seven we were married made up the best decade of both of our lives. Everyone loved Ted. He was simply a nice guy with a great personality and a big smile.

And, then, he died.

I was crushed. The wind had been knocked out of my being. I had learned to share everything in my life with him, the big old Texas cowboy God gave me. He was gone. What was I supposed to do now? There were just too many pieces I did not know how to handle.

A kind old cowboy, rancher, writer, friend assured me in one of the lowest moments of my life that I would make it. He said God would lead me and that he would not forsake me or abandon me. And then he said, “I know you are devastated and that you don’t see a way forward right now, but I believe in you.” He added softly, “I know you. Take one step at a time and just do the next right thing.”

In other conversation, he said to me, “Ted’s death was no surprise to God. He knows the plans he has for you and He will be with you every step of the way. You can use Jude 22 and help others who will walk this same path. Just do the next right thing.”

Guess what I have been doing for the last seven years? Trying to follow the advice I was given, and doing the next right thing whether it was visiting someone down on their luck, taking groceries to a struggling single mom, paying a bill, writing a story, driving a friend to the doctor or hospital, cutting grass, or simply sitting with someone while they cried.

Another writer friend thought I needed a little kick in the tail after a few months had passed. She wrote and said, “Brenda, no doubt you lost a lot when you lost Ted, but you need to look around and see what you have left. That’s a lot, too.” I’ve banked on that.

Someone sent me a copy of a song that was made popular in Frozen, the Disney movie that kids love.

The Next Right Thing
I’ve seen dark before, but not like this
This is cold, this is empty, this is numb
The life I knew is over, the lights are out
Hello, darkness, I’m ready to succumb

I follow you around, I always have
But you’ve gone to a place I cannot find
This grief has a gravity, it pulls me down
But a tiny voice whispers in my mind

You are lost, hope is gone
But you must go on
And do the next right thing

Can there be a day beyond this night?
I don’t know anymore what is true
I can’t find my direction, I’m all alone
The only star that guided me was you

How to rise from the floor?
But it’s not you I’m rising for
Just do the next right thing
Take a step, step again
It is all that I can to do
The next right thing

I won’t look too far ahead
It’s too much for me to take
But break it down to this next breath, this next step
This next choice is one that I can make

So I’ll walk through this night
Stumbling blindly toward the light
And do the next right thing
And, with it done, what comes then?

When it’s clear that everything will never be the same again
Then I’ll make the choice to hear that voice
And do the next right thing

Writer: Kristen Bell


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