Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.
Anxiety is a serious topic. It can be debilitating for people. Some people should seek professional help in dealing with anxiety. Probably all of us could benefit from some professional guidance, and we certainly can all benefit from some spiritual guidance in this area.
For most of us, some degree of anxiety is part of life. By definition, anxiety is the opposite of relaxation. When we aren’t relaxed, we are anxious. All of us, probably, get anxious at some point each day—maybe when driving, working, talking to someone, trying to avoid an argument, the possibilities are endless. One of the things that causes many of us anxiety, myself included, is the massive amount of “tabs open in our heads.” We have so much on our minds, so many things to get done, that if we aren’t careful, we can become very anxious very fast.
As much as we laud the idea of multi-tasking, in many instances it is impossible, or it is a bad idea. I can’t write a sermon while mowing the lawn. It is impossible. I can think of a sermon idea but I can’t type on the computer while pushing a lawn mower. Now, I could try to write a sermon while talking to someone in my office—that’s a bad idea though. Because I wouldn’t be giving either one 100% of my attention. I wouldn’t be able to give the best effort on the sermon, and it would be rude to not give someone I’m speaking with my full attention.
One of the hardest things I’ve learned how to do is commit to celebrating the Divine Liturgy with both my mind and body. I confess I’ve “celebrated” many Divine Liturgies with my body in front of the altar and my mind thinking about the tasks to be done in the office. And what happened? I didn’t get anything out of the Liturgy and I didn’t get any of those tasks done. I truly wasted time and actually disrespected the Lord in the process.
In many instances we can only do one thing at a time. Which is why we should commit to the one thing and focus on doing one thing at a time. Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew 6:34, “Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” And sometimes I take that verse and break it down even further—Do not be anxious for an hour from now.
Our life consists of the moment we are in. Yesterday is gone. If yesterday was great, it’s still over. And if yesterday was terrible, then today is a new day. Tomorrow isn’t a guarantee. An hour from now isn’t a guarantee. So if we are going to be good stewards of our lives, this starts by being a good steward of our time.
Someone reading this message today is grieving. Your focus for today does not necessarily need to be work. Maybe it is taking some quiet time to be still and grieve, so that “tomorrow” (or a few days from now) you can go back to being a good steward at your job.
Someone reading this message today is sick. Your focus for today can be getting better, so that you can go back to your regular responsibilities healed, so that you don’t rush and have a setback.
Sometimes doing nothing is actually the best use of the day. And sometimes we are so focused on things in the future, we miss things right in front of us. We get so concerned about the destination that we forget about the journey. So breathe, and focus on the task at hand. Be in the moment. There is a critical difference, however, in being in the moment and living for the moment, which can be misconstrued as an endorsement to be reckless and not think about the future. I would never suggest that. Yes, I think about my son going to college. He thinks about that too. But not when he’s doing his math homework. When he’s doing homework, he’s thinking about his homework, not about college. Staying present with his homework will help set up that future in college. Staying present in a task will lead us to the future we want to have. And sometimes the most present thing we can do is take a deep breath before we take that deep dive into what it presently in front of us. A deep breath brings us to the present. It’s those shallow and quick breaths about the future that overwhelm us in the present.
Lord, thank You for the gift of this day. Even though many “tabs” will be open in my head today, as many tasks face me not only in the future but in the present, help me to slow down, to breathe and to be present in whatever I’m doing. When it’s time to work, give me focus on each task. When the tasks become overwhelming, help me to separate them and focus on one at a time. When it is time to rest, help me to be present and disengage from work so that I can rest. And when it all becomes overwhelming, help me to pause and breathe, so that I can be calm and focused. Help me to be a good steward of this day, and whatever it will bring to me. Amen.
Be a good steward of your life by focusing on what is right in front of you. And take intentional deep breaths, they will help keep you in the present.