There is a very popular adage from groups like AA and Celebrate Recovery that goes, “Live One Day at a Time.”
This is a two-fold message.
The first is that when we are trying to change a bad habit or overcome an addiction, we have to focus on today and today only. If we look at it like, “I can never touch a cigarette again for the rest of my life,” that can seem like a wall far too tall to climb. But “I can’t touch a cigarette today,” well, that’s a piece of cake.
We can’t place these large goals on our path, because then we lose sight of the here and now. If we make a goal to be "clean" for one month, and then we slip up on day 23, we are negating all of our victories up to then and judging ourselves a failure. But when our goal is simply 24 hours, we feel we’ve accomplished something every night as we put our heads on our pillows. And we have!
The second message is that we cannot live in the past or worry about the future. When we’ve finally come to admit that we have a problem with a hurt, habit, or hang-up, we start to see our pasts a lot more clearly. All the times we were wrong and all the times we wronged others. We start uncovering memories that we had buried down deep and opening wounds we never let heal properly. There is a certain part of recovery that requires this look into our pasts, but we cannot live there.
When we live in our past, we are continually condemning ourselves, reminding ourselves how lost we are, telling ourselves that we don’t deserve freedom or a better life. Or worse, that we are so bad, God has given up on us for sure. This is not true. It’s never true.
We also cannot live in the future, worrying about what is coming next. God has already promised to provide for us, told us not to worry. What good does worry do for you anyway?
“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.” (Matthew 6:34 LB)
That’s right, “Live one day at a time” is a Biblical principle! Words of Jesus! So don’t make the mistake of believing that this message is just for those in recovery. These words are for everyone who ever struggles with living in the past, worrying about the future, or setting unrealistic goals which are almost always doomed to fail. Just focus on today. Today is all you have. Learn from the past, prepare for the future, but LIVE in the here and now. Life by the yard is hard, but life by the inch is a cinch!
Founder of BackRowOnline.com & Host of the Back Row Baptist Podcast