Take One Day at a Time
At the start of the new year, I think it’s common to picture all the wonderful things that could happen in the next twelve months. You may acquire a new skill, get a promotion at work, pick up a new hobby, complete an important project, or get in shape and lose ten pounds (which reminds me: everytime I tell my daughter Avery that I’m going to get in shape, she always tells me “Dad, round is a shape”). Yeah thanks! While it is crucial to have a vision for what you would like to see happen in the coming weeks and months, the fact is that every endeavor will have its ups and downs, especially in this time when the future is so unclear. I mean who didn’t have their personal, professional, social, or even spiritual plans and expectations crushed in 2020?
It is why, more than ever, I appreciate the adage to “take one day at a time.” Jesus says as much in Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” The Message translation says “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” I think this is important advice, not just for our long-term endeavors, but sometimes to just keep our wits about us with so much trouble and uncertainty in our world today. Psychologist Dr. Amelia Aldao gives the following suggestions about how to take things one day at a time. I’ve added some scriptural thoughts to each suggestion because these are actually things which God has already told us to do.
- Practice self-care – That means plan to do things each day to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The Bible does not specifically tell us to practice self-care, rather it is assumed. As Psalm 139:14 says, we have been “fearfully and wonderfully made.” In I Corinthians, Paul says that our bodies are “temples of the Holy Spirit” and we are to take good care of His temple. Of course, this includes spending time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer.
- Practice gratitude – We all have something to be thankful for each day: our lives, health, family, the food we eat, the home we live in, our church, God’s forgiveness and salvation. Give thanks to the Lord. Pray it, say it, sing it, journal it. Do not overlook His blessing and provision though it may appear small compared to your problems. In I Thessalonians 5:18, Paul says “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”Colossians 3:15 says “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”
- Notice your moment-by-moment experience – This goes back to living in the moment which God has given you and not letting your mind so easily turn to the regrets of yesterday or the worries of tomorrow. Be aware of what’s presently going on around you – family, friends, situations, your emotions. A part of this is walking through your day in God’s presence. I Chronicles 16:11 says “Seek the Lord and His strength; see His presence continually!”
- Work to embrace uncertainty – Easier said than done but it’s important that we realize that we do not have complete command or control of our tomorrows. 2020 should have taught us that. Proverbs 16:9 says “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” However, knowing that God is good and sovereign will help us grow in our ability to accept uncertainty. Let us also turn to God’s Word for guidance. Psalm 119:105 says “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
As we learn to take things one day at a time, let me end with Philippians 1:6, which says “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Take care and God bless.