Life: One Day At A Time

by Rev. Mark Connolly

One of the secrets of happiness in this life is having enough flexibility to contend with the problems of life one day at a time. That philosophy of being able to take one day at a time often depends on the various kinds of attitudes a person develops in coping with the same problems of life. If you have mind sets, if you have a kind of inordinate pride, if you lack flexibility, life will be more difficult than it should be.

Alcoholics Anonymous has helped hundreds of thousands of people to learn how to take one day at a time. Alcoholics Anonymous, in addition to the many other techniques, has taught its followers to take the prayer, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to the difference", and join this prayer with the principle of taking one day at a time and has helped people achieve sobriety with a tremendous amount of success.

Very few problems in life are going to be solved if you have the wrong attitudes about life. If there is rigidity in your thinking, if there is inflexibility that is extreme in your life style, then life is going to create greater problems.

In the field of psychology, people are taught yesterday is gone, tomorrow has not come, all we have is today. God gives each one of us 24 hours a day; 1440 minutes. How we use those minutes, how we fail to use them is our choice.

In the field of theology, Christ tells us sufficient for the day is the evil thereof. In other words, don't be bringing tomorrows problems into the twenty four hours you have today. There is enough trouble that you have to handle today. In the Lord's prayer he tells us to ask for our daily bread. In other words, enough grace, enough strength to take care of the problems of today. In other words, taking one day at a time.

When you think of all the problems that are in the world, that are in our lives, how do you cope and still keep your peace of mind?

If you read the writings of the great psychiatrist, Karl Jung, you might recall that he once said, "I have been a practicing psychiatrist for over thirty years and the vast number of my patients would never have had to enter my office if they had practiced the basic religious teachings of their religious teachers.

If you blend the teaching of theology and psychology, both theology and psychology will tell you that the right attitude helps you cope with the problems of life, helps you gain a degree of peace that you would not ordinarily get. I am just going to mention three that will help, won't cure the problems, but will help them become more tolerable.

The three attitudes:

First, the attitude of acceptance. No one in his right mind wants suffering in any shape. But we know it is a fact of life, a reality of life. The people in Somalia, the people in Bosnia, have horrible problems of life every day. They would like their suffering to disappear. It will not. So they try to develop a sense of acceptance to survive. Acceptance means not only taking one day at a time, but even one hour at a time. Acceptance has to be spiritualized. If you analyze the life of Christ when he was going through his agony and scourging, when he was in the Garden of Olives, he made it clear that he did not like his suffering when he said, "Father, if it is possible, let this suffering pass from me."

And then he added, "but not my will be done, but yours." Christ was reminding us that acceptance of a Cross does not remove the Cross, but helps us to get a greater degree of tolerance that in turn helps us to achieve a certain degree and increase peace of mind.

The second attitude that has to be cultivated every day for us is that of resignation to the will of God. Resignation does not mean that you remain passive, that you do nothing to help yourself with the problems of life you have. Resignation means that while you are coping with the problem you have that you realize you are not alone, that Christ has been where you are. The same Christ who told us not to worry about the birds of the air, the lilies of the field, that God with your prayer life will see you through this problem. Resignation is something active. You ask God for help, the God who said ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened to you. God does not abandon anyone. Resignation teaches us that the more we align ourselves with God, the more we emulate the quality of his sons resignation, the more we can cope. Suffering did not pass by Christ, and it will not pass by us.

The third kind of attitude is that of conformity to the will of God.

No matter how long we are on this earth, the more we have to realize is that life finds us living every day with the unanswered and the unresolved. Faith helps us to live with the unanswered. Hope helps us to live with the unresolved. Trust helps us to accept our own cross and go on with the work of living.

And while we are on this earth, we must become anchored to God and grafted onto Christ. This is the kind of spirituality that is needed.

The great minds of the Church, from Saint Augustine to Saint Thomas, the great mystics of the Church from St. John of the Cross to Saint Theresa of Avila, have taught the value of conformity . The great theologians had conformity to the will of God and so must we. It makes the problems of life more bearable.

Acceptance, resignation and conformity to the will of God are not just theological and psychological experiences. They are truths that we should incorporate in our lives, truths that we should live by. Without them, life can be more painful. With them, life can be more beautiful.

copyright © 1999-2005, Spirituality for Today