Scenario #1: A single mother named Leanne was struggling to teach and discipline her willful teenage son. What first started as breaking curfew turned into refusing to go to Church, which turned into sluffing school. However, each time the behavior worsened, the mother disciplined less and less. However, it was not because she didn’t want to. It’s just that she was struggling with some deep insecurity and overwhelming guilt.
Why? She had made some mistakes in parenting her son earlier in his life, and she believed his choices were her fault. She was so sure she had messed everything up with him in the past, she couldn’t figure out how to discipline him now. In Leanne’s mind, his behavior was just an extension of her failure. She could not forgive herself for it nor forget about it, both of which were paralyzing her. Fear and frustration were part of her everyday interactions with him.
Scenario #2: Ben started feeling that he needed to switch to a different college in a different state. That school had a better program than the one he was currently attending and would allow him to better pursue his education. However, every time he thought about it, he would get a sick feeling inside. He was sure that meant he wasn’t supposed to go.
The only problem? Any time Ben would even think about switching schools, his mind would become consumed with these thoughts: “Where am I going to live?” “How do I know things will work out?” “Will I find a job?” “What about all the transfer credits they won’t take?” “Who will be my roommate?” “What if others think it’s a stupid idea?” “What if I hate it?”
Have you ever found yourself, like Leanne, so paralyzed by something that has happened in the past that you feel unable to do something today? Have you, like Ben, worried so much about something that might happen in the future that you feel unable to make decisions today? Well, you’re not alone — and it simply may indicate you are not staying present.
Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher, is quoted as saying:
She was so sure she had messed everything up with him in the past, she couldn’t figure out how to discipline him now.
However, every time he thought about it, he would get a sick feeling inside. He was sure that meant he wasn’t supposed to go.
“By providing a daily sustenance, one day at a time, Jehovah was trying to teach faith to a nation that over a period of some 400 years had lost much of the faith of their fathers. He was teaching them to trust Him, to ‘look unto [Him] in every thought; doubt not, fear not’ (D&C 6:36). He was providing enough for one day at a time. . . . In essence, the children of Israel had to walk with Him today and trust that He would grant a sufficient amount of food for the next day on the next day, and so on. In that way, He could never be too far from their minds and hearts. . . .”[viii]