rebelling against low expectations

Do Hard Things Ruined My Life


I was a nice, settled homeschooled girl. I was safe in my little bubble of Christian, homeschooled teens. I was given a book called Do Hard Things.

It ruined my life.

I started volunteering at a ministry for women afflicted by human trafficking, drugs and abuse. It was difficult, painful and stressful.

I thought that once I broke the proverbial sound barrier, it would be easy. That after the initial struggle, I would make likeminded friends and change the world. Years from now, I would be recognized as someone worthy of a magazine article on Christian compassion, or something.

It didn’t happen. Still hasn’t.

I washed lots of dishes, rescued frost burned casseroles, learned how to tell which drug someone was on, and the whole language that is street talk.

I heard heartbreaking stories that I could do nothing about. I watched beautiful women get back into cars with their abusive boyfriends. I saw girls that I knew well standing on street corners trying to sell their bodies. I listened to single moms worry about where to get Christmas presents so that their kids could have a Christmas.

After a while, people stopped asking me how things were going. Their lives continued, while I wondered if anyone cared. I couldn’t help but notice that the kids I taught in Sunday school had more than one warm winter coat, while the ladies I served had only a hoodie.

I thought I would see a difference. I forgot how hard it was to see change when it’s right in front of your face. It all seemed noble and courageous on the front end. On the backend, it just seemed hard and sad.

That’s when I remember the happy moments. All the girls I’ve come to love. Seeing a woman get her first pair of reading glasses. Giving out hygiene products to ladies who couldn’t afford it otherwise.

Seeing girls gain sobriety, child custody, a job and a life. Watching ladies light up at the sight of real place settings and homemade food. Listening to them sing joyously to Christian music. Praying with girls who have opened wide their hearts. Having people randomly ask me how things are going.

Here’s my advice to my fellow teens:

Don’t make doing hard things seem easier in your mind than it really is. You may not volunteer in the inner city, but whatever you do will probably not be as simple as you thought.

Don’t stop. Every challenge is just another excuse to do hard things. If the hard thing you picked to do just opens the door for another hard thing… just tighten your laces and run faster.

Learn how to find the good things. Somehow, it’s always easier to see the things that don’t work, or the sad things, or the things you failed at. Instead, find the things that are working, are happy and that you succeeded at.

Don’t give up. I don’t care how hard it is. I don’t care how many tears you cry. I don’t care if it seems hopeless. Truth is stronger than the things that you can see.

The truth is that as long as you are trying to do something, you will never fail. You only find out what not to do next time.

The truth is that God always sees what you do. Even if you never get a single reward or make any visible progress on earth, He treasures your every effort.

Doing hard things sounds good on paper, it’s true.

But in real life?

It’s better than you could ever dream.

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About the author

Abbey Lancaster

Abbey Lancaster is a 18 year old Christian book addict, wanna be writer, loyal Rahab Ministries volunteer and Southern-Belle-Who-Somehow-Got-Transplanted-To-Ohio. She tries to not have books scattered everywhere, reserve more than 40 holds at a time from the library, or forget to do anything besides read. She blogs about life, not going to college, and her faith at


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  • Oh, I needed to hear this, thank you so much for writing! I literally clicked on this, in tears from discouragement and frustration, but God knew what I needed to hear and read. 🙂

    • Sara,
      I’m glad it was encouraging….I’d join you in your tears in a heartbeat! So many times, all that matters is knowing you’re not the only one….. Which was the point of my little story…….

  • Abbey, WOW! You drew me in with the title, and I’m so glad you did! I really needed this today, so thank you!

  • This is oh so encouraging Abbey. I volunteer at a pregnancy center and see some of the same things you see, and although there at times where I’m heartbroken at the choices others have made, there are plenty of awesome and amazing stories that I get to be a part of that I wouldn’t trade for the world. These things are hard, but so rewarding 🙂 Thank you for writing Abbey!

    • You’re welcome…. I tried, anyway.. 🙂
      And thank you for your work. Having sent many women to our local pregnancy center, it is very needed.
      Keep up the good work!

  • Abbey! I am so Jealous of you! It is my desire and dream to help out in a women ministry especially for abused women. It is one ministry I am certain God has called me to. However between work, school,church and home I can’t find the time or place to start. I am so glad you are learning to see the good no matter how much bad there is and I especially loved the line “Don’t give up. I don’t care how hard it is. I don’t care how many tears you cry. I don’t care if it seems hopeless. Truth is stronger than the things that you can see.”
    My high school principal was told me “the work you do on these girls or women will not materialize instantly but someday in the future the seed you have sown will begin to grow”
    Thank you once again Abbey,

    • Esther,
      Don’t give up on your desire…
      We always need more people in this fight…. I SO agree with your principal… sometimes we’re so close to things that we can’t see the growth. Besides, the things we work hardest for are the things we most appreciate.
      I hope one day you do get to join in this Hard Thing!
      Many Blessings— Abbey

  • Abbey, thank you so much for writing this and sharing your story! Even for me personally, it’s easy to think in my head how fun and easy certain “hard things” are. But, when reality sets in and the fun and difficult pieces are in front of you, it makes you want to quit and to just give up. But you’re right, it takes sacrifices to do hard things. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Thanks for writing this, it’s encouraging and helpful!


  • “Doing hard things sounds good on paper, it’s true.

    But in real life?

    It’s better than you could ever dream.”

    Couldn’t agree more, I love the feeling of finally understanding what God wants me to do and seeing that what ever it is, is scary and exciting. Seemingly unattainable, yet so close I can grab it. The feeling like I am about to crash so hard into the ground but the faith to say ‘maybe that isn’t so bad’.

By Abbey Lancaster
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →