Principle 6: One day at a time

by GYE (See all authors)

Take the struggle only “one day at a time.” Try never to focus on the future or wonder how we will manage. We must learn to live in the present only, focusing on staying "clean" or "sober" right NOW. When we focus on the future, we can easily fall. It’s like someone walking a tightrope; if he looks down, it becomes so much harder not to fall. Therefore, when feeling weak we can tell ourselves, “just for today, I will stay clean.” “Just for this moment, I will stay clean.” The past and the future are out of our hands and belong only to Hashem. When we feel that we are about to fall, we may even tell ourselves that we reserve the right to act out tomorrow. We are not making a decision now for life. However, just for today we will do whatever we can to stay clean.

One guy writes: When I get up in the morning after saying Modeh Ani, I always pray to Hashem in my own words and say something along these lines : "Hashem, I cannot control this without your help. I am willing not to act out on lust today, but I cannot promise about tomorrow. Just for today Hashem, please help me succeed."

This is one of the big Yesodos in the 12-Step program as well. On any given day, if we do what we are supposed to on our side to try and stay "sober" and sane, we trust completely in Hashem that He will give us 24 hours of relief - for that day only.

We see this idea in regards to the provisions of the B’nei Yisrael in the desert. Hashem gave them relief for one day at a time. Whether they gathered a lot or a little, they only got 24 hours of sustenance and relief.

The phrases "Hayom al l'vovecha – today on your heart" and "asher Anochi metzaveh es'chem Hayomwhich I command you today" in kriyas sh'ma are both explained by our sages to mean that Hashem’s proclamation here is new - today is the first day we have heard of it! Hashem is telling us to live one day at a time. This is an approach to life in kriyas sh'ma itself. It reminds us each time we say it, that Hashem is concerned with how we do today. Not yesterday, nor tomorrow. So if even Hashem asks for only one day at a time - should we ask for more?

Teshuva is only relevant inasmuch as it affects today's avodah. The Chovos Hal'vavos says (right at the start of sha'ar hateshuvah), that the definition of Teshuvah is behaving correctly right now, even though we have messed up badly in the past. It is not about fixing anything. (It’s Hashem’s business to fix us, not ours).

And remember, today is the first day of the rest of your life! So let’s do our very best to stay clean just for today.