I tend to worry. About a lot of things. Especially the things I can’t control. Like, the future. My mind is a snowflake-turned-avalanche of worries.
I don’t know how to turn it off. I read things in the Bible about not worrying and praying through my anxious thoughts, and yes, that often helps, when I remember to do that. But I can’t just not worry or think about not worrying. It’s like being on a diet and telling yourself constantly, don’t think about eating a donut. It doesn’t work for me.
I’m finding I have to replace my worry with something else.
This does not come naturally to me. What does come naturally is to dwell on worry and add to it all the other worries, related or not. For some reason, it’s easier to follow this downward spiral than to stop it in its tracks. For me, prayer helps undo the spiral after it has already happened. But what about when the first worry hits?
I chose my word for the year, present, because I wanted to be more engaged with the world around me. Less distracted. More intentional. I didn’t think about it in terms of “now.” Today.
Tomorrow is so unknown, yet I imagine all the worst case scenarios based on one set of circumstances. I mistakenly believe that the way things are today is how they will be tomorrow and the next day and the days to come forevermore.
Rarely has that been the case. Seasons are just that–seasons. Seasons change and circumstances with them, and while some things tend to repeat, hardly anything stays the same all the time in every season. Even the trees look different from spring to spring.
So, I’m practicing the art of reminding myself what is true today.
While meteorologists predict another snow on the horizon, I bask in the sunshine on a 50-degree-day and tell myself that today is a gorgeous day, and even if tomorrow brings a bitter wind and winter-like temperatures, I can enjoy today.
When the numbers in the checking account dwindle and I wonder how we’ll afford this or that, I remind myself that today, the bills are paid. We have food to eat. Clothes to wear. We may not be where we want to be, but we have enough for today.
I try not to think too much about how my kids are going to turn out, but when I start to worry about them leaving the nest, years from now, I say, “Today, they are here and they are loved and cherished and as safe as I can possibly make them.” Today, I have them in my life and can enjoy their giggles while we listen to my husband read The BFG.
Too I often I worry about the future, and I also let the past dictate today. I remember past hurts. Events that left me questioning all that is good about life. And I tell myself that those things happened then and while they have shaped who I am, they are no longer true of me today.
Living in the present, for today, does not have to be some sort of cavalier excuse to take risks because “carpe diem” and all that. It’s not about denying or avoiding the future or the past. It’s acknowledging that today is here now, and tomorrow will be a new day, and each day has merit, even if it is ordinary. And if it is not, the ordinary days will return.
Summed up over a lifetime, the balance of ordinary days and extraordinary ones evens out, I think. Maybe the scale even tips in favor of the ordinary ones.
I don’t want to worry about or live for tomorrow. I don’t want to stay stuck in the past.
I want today to matter, even if nothing epic happens. I want to see what’s true today. And acknowledge it.
If I am hurting today, I will say so.
If I am at peace today, I will declare it.
If I am overwhelmed today, I will tell myself that today is just one day.
If I am happy today, I will enjoy it.
It is so cliche to say that today is a gift, and maybe I’m just getting older, but I’m starting to believe it. I used to think my life would begin “someday.” After all this other stuff happened or passed. But it’s just not true. Life is what is happening to me today, and it might not be amazing or interesting or spectacular.
Or maybe just the fact that it is happening is the most amazing thing of all.
So, what’s true for you today?