And this is Joy
Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment that we forget the context, but sometimes we get so caught up in the big picture that we fail to appreciate the details. This is true in any sphere of life from mathematics to just hanging out with friends, but I want to consider this dichotomy at a broader level than any individual artificial divide.
Phrases like “live for the moment” or “tomorrow will take care of itself” are repeated so endlessly in our society that I don’t even hear them. Yet the Bible specifically tells us not to worry about tomorrow. (Matthew 6:34) Admittedly, not worrying about tomorrow is far different than “living in the moment”, but the idea has merit, too.
If we don’t worry about tomorrow, but don’t replace that worry with anything else, it seems likely that it will replace itself with worry about today. I often find that when I stop myself from worrying about a big test I have coming up in a few weeks or about what plans I should make for the summer, instead I focus on more immediate concerns: I worry that I screwed up on the homework I just returned to the professor or that my RA will come into my room and find the somewhat against the rules modifications I’ve made to the door-closing mechanism.
Somehow, I don’t think that’s what Jesus meant when he told us “… do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.” He does continue and say, “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble,” but that has more the feel of a regretful concession than in injunction to worry about whether the homework I already handed to my teacher was badly done.
So with what do I replace those concerns? No Biblical justification comes immediately to mind, but I know that in my experience the best way to not worry about tomorrow is to become enthralled with the simple joys of the moment.
Tonight I walked across campus carrying a box I had just received in the mail. The box was full of textbooks, but that’s immaterial. Carrying any package gives me that special feeling of owning some sort of secret. I could be carrying top-secret equipment from the CIA or a container full of food.* It wasn’t, but that doesn’t take away from the joy of carrying a package. The sky was dark, but it wasn’t so dark that you couldn’t see the puffs of cloud drifting across the sky. I think I like that more than a starry night. It was raining, there were puddles, and I was barefoot.
In short, there were a large number of simple joys waiting for me to notice them, and I almost just trotted through, completely absorbed in the task of creating a schedule for my homework so that I wouldn’t fall behind already. God stopped me from doing that by making me trip and almost drop my package in a puddle. That’s when I realized this was one of my favorite kinds of walks.
It’s so much easier to drop all anxieties about tomorrow when they can be replaced by the joy God gives us each day.
* The food option is infinitely preferable.