It’s Sunday evening. A table usually reserved for meal times has, instead, become a makeshift teacher’s desk. Lesson plans strewn about, books, DVD’s, grade books, red pens, and unsharpened pencils litter the oak top, alongside my tiredness. I put my head down, realizing again, the enormity of the task in front of me. I haven’t graded papers over the weekend, haven’t prepared for the week ahead.
Week four, our 16th day of homeschooling. Yes, that’s where we are. Marking off days on the school calendar, fully entrenched in a new routine that feels less new now, more normal. I sigh, and then I remember . . . a lesson I learned not long ago. A life-learning that came to me under the teacher named Cancer. That lesson?
The capacity and the great willingness to live within the context of a twenty-four hour time frame. To not look beyond today, realizing that today is all I’ve been given. Today holds enough worry of its own. No need to borrow beyond this day’s allowance. Should tomorrow arrive for me, I’ll have enough time and enough determination to deal with it then. But as for today, I’ll keep my attention and focus on the task at hand, give myself permission to rest here, and establish the boundaries that prevent me from going further.
It’s a good way to live. I’ve not always applied this lesson to my life. I’m not sure I really learned it in my younger years. Certainly, I heard it . . . from the pulpit, from my parents, in my readings and with my studying. But application of truth is sometimes best learned firsthand, away from prescriptive learning while entrenched in the labors of practical living—applied living, where the tenets of our faith are hammered out on the pavement of everyday life.
The capacity and great willingness to live within the context of a twenty-four hour time frame doesn’t become our default until we’re required to go there, to live there for a season. A time when twenty-four hours is enough, when living through those next twenty-four hours is the gift. Sometimes we live ahead of the gift. We strive to hold more than our daily allowance, wanting to have it all figured out, leaving little wiggle room for the contingencies that frequently interrupt our best laid plans.
Best laid plans are rarely lived plans. Certainly, a well thought-out, established plan is a framework for success, allowing us some measure of control over the outcome. But at the end of the day, even in the middle of our day, and occasionally in those beginning moments of our day, there comes a scenario we didn’t consider during our Sunday evening planning sessions. Sometimes, life takes a turn we didn’t anticipate while charting out our weekly agendas, and it’s probably a really good thing we weren’t forewarned about its arrival.
Can you imagine what our planners might look like had we known that “it” was coming (whatever that “it” is for you)? Sweet mercy, there wouldn’t be enough white-out to fix the mess! When life gets derailed, it’s better to keep the pencil and the eraser handy, rather than the pen. Sometimes, perhaps, throwing them both aside is the best course of action . . . just let it happen, let life come, without trying to control it all on the front side of its advent.
This is, perhaps, the grace in it all—the joy of finally being able to let go of all the striving, to release the expectations of daily life, and to live fully in the realization that these next twenty-four hours are all that our precious lives were meant to handle. This doesn’t mean that we don’t look forward to tomorrow, that we don’t plan a little, control a little, and pray a ton. It simply and profoundly means that we save tomorrow’s striving until tomorrow and live the gift in front of us.
And so, I lift my head from this table, and I acknowledge that I won’t be able to fully plan my week in these moments. Instead, I’ll lock into the urgent, that which is pressing, that which is called tomorrow morning. It feels good and right to downgrade my focus, to keep it small, thus freeing up some space in my heart and soul for the contingencies that might work their way into a loosely planned schedule.
The capacity and great willingness to live within the context of a twenty-four hour time frame.
Are you there yet? Are you willing? Can you whittle your plans, your thoughts, and your worries down to the next twenty-four hours? Nothing more is required of you. Why not live this freedom in this moment? Why not grant yourself permission to fully live here, to stop here, and to travel no further down the road, save for the next step in front of you?
It’s a beautiful way to live a day. It’s a trusting way to live a life.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” –Matthew 6:34
PS: I’ve yet to decide the best way to keep my newest book, release, Beyond Cancer’s Scars, in front of readers, especially new visitors. Therefore, I’ll be including the book trailer with the next several posts, along with a link for ordering copies (click here). I am exceedingly grateful for the interest and support I’ve received from many of you. Thank you, again, for joining me on the journey. It’s good to share the road with you.