One Day At A Time
"One day at a time" is possibly one of the most difficult propositions to live by.
While it may have origins in recovery programs, it's become a well-used phrase in the wider culture, so much so that I feel we don't give it the attention it deserves.
It's the sort of proposition that seems reasonable and wise when offered to us by a friend or a loved one as a possible way forward when we're struggling. But living one day at a time is harder than it might seem.
Living daily, taking each one as it comes, requires tremendous trust, surrender, and defiant hope. Each of those things is hard enough to come by in their own right, but all together... that really raises the bar.
I thought about a story in the Hebrew Scriptures where the concept of living one day at a time was first outlined. It occurs in the book of Exodus, where God provides sustenance to the Hebrew people in a miraculous way.
Each morning, a layer of a bread-like substance would appear on the ground in the Hebrew encampment. They called it manna, which means "What is it?" They were only allowed to gather what they needed that day, trusting it would be there again each morning.
In her book The Wisdom of Not Knowing, Estelle Frankel offers the following insight into the gathering of manna and what it taught the Hebrew people in the Exodus story:
Each day for forty years, the Israelites would have to go out and gather their daily supply of manna—just enough for that day…. To go forward, the Israelites also needed to exercise curiosity—to take in and explore new experiences, to practice beginner’s mind. The manna became a vehicle for this learning…
This is what it means to live one day at a time: To trust that each day will bring what you need for that day because trusting in the goodness and mercy of God is never a losing proposition.
Some days may bring trial and trouble, temptation and obstacles that block our way.
But when we have a beginner's mind and the humility to trust that there is more going on in the world than our own struggle, we can exercise curiosity, learn from our new experiences, and find peace.
I have had more than my fair share of struggles to live as I have described.
Taking each day as it comes isn't easy when the days come at us hard. A day might bring bad news, have something traumatic happen, or simply be filled with frustration and disappointment.
The trick is to embrace all that each day brings, even when it hurts. And to realize that there will be more good things than not. We need to embrace the good things that a day brings, too.
The idea is to live fully in each day--ready to be taught, curious about what you might be able to learn, and humble enough to know you don't know everything.
May this thought bring you joy. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.