Recently, I’ve picked up on a lot of anxiety amongst the people I interact with. Just about everyone seems to be nervous about something, but mostly people are concerned about the future.
We sure seem to be in a mess, whether as individuals or as a society. Just when we think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, something else happens and it seems like we’re right back to square one.
So, how to we try to shed ourselves of our anxiety about the future? Certainly, some people’s circumstances are serious, and there is much to process. But for others, they are concerned about many things that are out of their control. How can we all be less anxious? Jesus had something to say on the matter.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
In this passage (Matthew 6:34), Jesus is pretty clear. No one can predict exactly how things will go tomorrow, so it’s better to focus on today. Living in the here and now is the approach Jesus is asking us to take. Maybe we would all be a bit less anxious if we listened to Jesus on this one.
I came across this quote the other day, and it fits really well with the theme of living for today. The story goes that a soldier in World War II was suffering from severe anxiety attacks. He had been through some very ugly situations, and they had greatly affected him. He landed in the hospital with a mental breakdown.
After the doctor checked him out, he told him that there was nothing wrong with him physically, but clearly he had some mental issues going on. His doctor gave him this advice to deal with his situation:
I want you to think of your life as an hourglass. You know there are thousands of grains of sand in the top portion of the glass; and they all pass slowly and evenly through the narrow neck in the middle.
Nothing you or I could do would make more than one grain of sand pass through this narrow next without impairing this hourglass. You and I and everyone else are just like this glass.
When we start in the morning, there are hundreds of tasks which we feel that we must accomplish that day, but if we do not take them one at a time and let them pass through the day slowly and evenly, as do the grains of sand passing through the narrow neck of the hourglass, then we are bound to break our own physical or mental structure.
One grain of sand at a time…. One task at a time. This makes so much sense to me, and I wish I had gotten this out a few days ago. Maybe I would have paid more attention to this quote myself today.
My mind was racing when I came home for lunch. We have a big retreat this weekend, and there were a thousand things to do. I was also worried about several things that had nothing to do with the retreat.
After I closed the back door, I quickly realized something was missing. I left my keys on the counter. The spare key, which is usually somewhere accessable outside, was sitting on the dresser in my bedroom. I had given it to a friend the other day so she could let my dog out while I was on a trip to Washington. I have no other spares.
I called another friend, and he said to try and open the door with a credit card. All I got from this was a damaged card. My other doors and windows were locked up tight, so I ended up calling in a locksmith. $85 later, I was in my house, mad at myself for making such a dumb mistake, but more upset that I hadn’t returned that spare key to its proper location.
I think I would have never found myself in this situation had I been paying attention to the tasks at hand, instead of letting my mind race about all I had yet to do.
Despite all the demands that will be coming my way in the next few days, I’m not going to let anything get to me. I’m going to focus on the tasks at hand, and not concern myself with how things are going to go. I’m going to live for today. As Jesus said, tomorrow can take care of itself.