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“Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.” Matthew 6:34.
You gain consciousness. You’re in the library. Everyone in your study group has left already. What time is it? Your eyes vacillate between your watch and your blank laptop screen. What were you doing? Right, writing a paper. When is it due? The following day. You’re gripped with panic at the fact that you haven’t started yet but are paralyzed with fear that your future work will lower your class grade.
All of us have experienced some version of the above scenario: being so consumed with anxiety about the future, or the “what-ifs,” that we misuse, or in some cases waste, the time we do have. “Don’t bring tomorrow’s troubles into today,” says the Lord. “Today has enough trouble of its own. Let tomorrow’s troubles come tomorrow if they do at all.”
Rightly regarded as America’s leading Catholic psychologist and family counselor, EWTN’s Ray Guarendi, who holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, details in his book “Jesus, the Master Psychologist: Listen to Him” the fundamentals of Christian psychology, directing us first to the root of all healthy counseling: the words of the redeemer.
I recently started annotating in this book when I saw a chapter called “Stop It” in the table of contents. Curious, I flipped through its pages to said chapter. In it, Guarendi dives deeper into Jesus’ teachings on how to approach anxiety and worry, and how to help us manage it on our own using our Catholic faith.
However unsatisfying the answer, Guarendi outlines how “Jesus counsels that the first step toward worrying less is deciding to worry less.” As a group, psychologists don’t read much of Jesus’ life book, but they do take pages from it, however unknowingly. They talk much about “living for today” or “living in ‘the now,’” which is an idea rooted in Jesus’ ministry.
The what-ifs of tomorrow are limited only by one’s imagination. Though what-ifs can arrive when the times come, our Lord exhorts: “Don’t allow them to occupy your mind. Today will be robbed of peace, and tomorrow will ruin your today.”
We all desire peace. And the way we receive it as Catholics is to follow God’s will indefinitely.
So, although it may sound too simple, as soon as we choose to dismiss our anxieties, the sooner our anxieties will begin to dissipate. This idea of making a formal and conscious decision comes down to a direct application of our faith.
Do we have faith that the events of today will occur just as God wants? “Jesus implies that anxiety must not travel into yesterday. God’s grace moves not backward but forward, turning old wrongs into long gones,” Guarendi writes.
Take this as your sign to make a mental note of where your feet are and choose to be present in this moment. Also, you should probably start on that paper.