Sometimes we are tempted to live in the future. We spend precious time contemplating and worrying about what may or may not happen in the future. We worry about money. We worry about our families. We worry about our health.
Jesus cautioned against this. “Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). During the last section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is talking about worry. At the end, he specifically mentions worrying about the future. We should not worry about the future. We should be taking life one day at a time.
How do we do this? How do we avoid the trap of worry for the future? It is a challenge, but there are some ways in which we can escape worry for the future and take things one day at a time:
- Focus on today. What needs to be done today? What are some tasks that you can tackle immediately? What actions can you take today that may help to decrease your anxiety? For example, someone anxious about their health can start exercising, or she can prepare a healthy meal.
- Mind your thoughts. It is really easy to go from reasonable planning to obsessing about the future. Be mindful of your thoughts and emotions. Are you feeling anxiety? If so, you’ve probably crossed over into worry. If you find yourself worrying about the future, don’t beat yourself up. Just shift your focus back to the present.
- Breathe. It’s amazing what a few deep breaths will do to bring you back to the moment.
- Experience nature. A nice walk outdoors can really help to relieve stress and dissipate worry. Connecting to nature has a way of bringing us back to the present. We feel the sunshine and the breeze, we see the leaves, we hear children playing. These things ground us in the moment.
- Give thanks. Take a look at your life present life. Find five things you are grateful for, and thank God for them. Finding the good in today will help to curb your worry about tomorrow.
- Start smaller, if necessary. Sometimes even a day is too much. Sometimes I have to focus on just making it to lunch. If one day is too much , focus on only a portion of the day: an hour, the next five minutes, whatever will help to keep you focused on today.
It is so easy to get caught up in worry about tomorrow. Jesus does not want us to do that, though. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Let’s take it one day at a time.