Some of the best advice I’ve heard in recent years came from a homily our priest gave last December. He was talking about worry, and threw out some amazing statistics about what people worry about: I don’t recall the exact numbers, but the majority of things that people worry about are future events — and at least half of those never even happen.
This is even more true with me. As he spoke, I did a breakdown of what I tend to worry about, and at least 75% of it involves future events (hello, my name is Jennifer, and I am a control freak). And, thinking through the things that had been on my mind for the past few months, I realized how many of those worries never even came to pass!…Combine that with the time I spent dwelling on things that had already happened and were no longer within my control, and it was a pretty startling picture.
So I resolved to stop worrying about the future so much, and the results have been really interesting. I never cease to be amazed at how often things that I was just sure were going to happen ended up playing out entirely differently than I’d expected, weren’t as bad as I thought, or never even happened at all. At least a few times a month I find myself thinking, “Wow, I’m glad I didn’t waste time worrying about that, since it’s all moot now.” (Which is not to say, of course, that I don’t have any problems! Just that things often happen differently than I would have expected.)
And lately I’ve had to remind myself of this more than ever. Baby #3 is set to arrive at the end of next month, and I feel completely unprepared. My toddler has zero interest in potty training and the baby isn’t walking, so it looks like I’ll have three children in diapers and two that don’t walk (in a two story house)…and don’t even get me started on the money issues. I often feel like I’m barely getting through the days as it is, that I’m really not cut out for this, and just cannot imagine how this is going to work when I have a newborn.
Yet if I were to indulge in this worry I would probably find that the time I spend thinking about how challenging it’s going to be would outweigh the time I spend in actual challenging situations. The key, I think, is to simply live in the moment. Seek God at all times, and humbly go about my days, not agonizing about what tomorrow might bring or fixating on what happened yesterday. The bad moments full of frustration or fatigue or exasperation will come…but don’t allot them any more time than they need by pouring mental energy into them before and after the fact.
I was reminded of all this when I came across a wonderful excerpt from The Secret of a Happy Life by Fr. Lasance over at one of my favorite blogs, Starry Sky Ranch. It’s so beautiful…and so true…and so something I really need to remember in the coming months:
One secret of a sweet and happy Christian life is learning to live by the day…Life does not come to us all at one time; it comes only a day at a time. Even tomorrow is never ours until it becomes today, and we have nothing whatever to do with it but to pass down to it a fair and good inheritance in today’s work well done, and today’s life well lived.
It is a blessed secret this, of living by the day. Any one can carry his burden, however heavy, till nightfall. Anyone can do his work, however heavy, till nightfall. Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, until the sun goes down. And this is all life ever means to us – just one little day. “Do today’s duty; fight today’s temptations, and do not weaken or distract yourself by looking forward to things you cannot see and could not understand if you saw them.” God gives us nights to shut down upon our little days. We cannot see beyond. Short horizons make life easier and give us one of the blessed secrets of brave, true, holy living.
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