Like the flame that burns the candle, the candle feeds the flame:1 the two are inextricably joined at the hip; they build on each other. And each statement contains within it the path to peace: yours and this day. Because just the opposite are the two words that form the foundation of our anxieties: mine and tomorrow.
“Mine”: The World of Worry
As soon as I put my stamp of ownership on anything, I’m priming the pump of my anxiety machine. Be it things, people, relationships, time, personal agenda or whatever: the more I think I own it, the more I set myself up for stress and anxiety. Owning it means I will ultimately try to control it, or them. I must! It’s … mine.
This inevitably leads to “my will.” My will means “not your will, God,” which enslaves us to the world of worry. “My will, not Yours” can even be the highway to hell — certainly here, and taken to the extreme, there.
How foolish is it to think of anything as mine? Is it my house? Only while the bank or the deed says so. Is she my daughter, or is she first and foremost God’s daughter? Is she my wife, or my husband, as in my dog or my shoes, or is she or he God’s child, and we are together to serve each other, not to try to control one another?
“Mine” = control = anxiety. Period.
My home is the house in which I currently live, but the folks who lived here before me thought it was their house, too, as will whoever comes after me. Do any of us really own this house, or are we simply using it for a while? If I think I own anything, it then begins to own me. And the grip tightens, as do I — as does my life. If I instead only use it, for a while, the grip loosens, as do I — as does then my life.
While in San Francisco I rented a new Ford Mustang convertible. Beautiful and fast and fun. Boy was I cool: California Kid! Along the way I spilled a milkshake on the floor. Not so cool, but no big deal. In contrast, years ago I bought a brand new Explorer, and in the first week someone dropped fries down the seat. Heart attack! I died a slow, agonizing death as that last fry, stuck down under the seat, lasted the lifetime of the car.
Why the flip-out over the fries, but not a meltdown over the milkshake? One was mine! And so my grip was tight. One I was only using … for a while.
The demon in CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters understood this trap, and encouraged his protégé to promote this human fallacy: “The sense of ownership in general is always to be encouraged. The humans are always putting up claims to ownership which sound equally funny in Heaven and in Hell and we must keep them doing so.”
How often do you worry about today? Oh sure, you may have a meeting that’s troublesome or something else unpleasant today, but isn’t it true most of your worrying is about tomorrow, as in: “What about …?” or “What if …?” or “How will I …?”
I have a friend who frequently challenges me to “Be in the moment, Sam.” He’s a nuts and berries, granola kind of guy, so I tend to dismiss this as just so much tree-hugging. But uh oh, Jesus taught us the same message as he warned:
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow …
This moment is, in reality, the only place we can be. To move beyond it, or dwell on the past, is, well, it’s missing life. But how often is your mind truly in the present, as opposed to stewing over “what they did,” or “If I don’t, it won’t …?”
You might be thinking, but not to admitting: “But I must worry. To not worry would be imprudent; to not worry would not be responsible.”
And you would be right; that is, if you are mastered by the “Mine” and “My will” sickness; that is if you insist on trying to own tomorrow. But If Jesus is my Lord, and therefore leading the way, then I say “Yours, not mine, this day. Tomorrow? We’ll get to that later, together.”
In these two lines of Jesus’ master prayer, he highlights for us the only appropriate, and quite frankly logical approach to life. The more we view things as mine, the more we will insist on my way, and therefore worry about tomorrow. Thus the path to peace evaporates. But as we loosen our grip on mine, and stay in the moment, this day, only, we begin to release all this “mine” anxiety. God then absorbs our anxiety and breathes peace and tranquility back into our hearts.
And that, my friends, is the A+ life: the only path to peace.