Need help managing your “today?” Rebecca Stuhlmiller redirects our thinking.
Good Enough for Today
By Rebecca Stuhlmiller
I was 27 when I heard about ADHD for the first time. On a mission trip to Antigua, a teammate told me about her work with children who had a neurodevelopmental disorder I’d never heard of—this was before the Internet era. As she described the classic symptoms to me, something resonated.
Like her students, a thousand thoughts rattled around in my head. I flitted from one activity to the next, landing on whatever looked good or sounded fun at the moment—which, up to that point, had wreaked havoc in my life.
Growing up, I masked my internal floundering by being a good student, an accomplished pianist, and a dedicated church-goer; expectations within my social structures kept me in line. But no one saw me at home, scratching my arm with scissors or swallowing prescription pills from my parents’ medicine cabinet—anything I could do to numb a pain I couldn’t understand.
Then at 19, out on my own, I stumbled through a semester of college and quit. I couldn’t keep a job; if I didn’t feel like going to work, I didn’t. I entered and exited relationships with men based on physical appearance or emotional attraction. I thought marriage and motherhood would provide some structure again, which they did to a degree. At the time of the mission trip, I was a music teacher, a church volunteer and an adequate mother. My house was tidy, but my marriage was messy.
After Antigua, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had heard about the symptoms of ADHD. I didn’t seek a diagnosis or find a therapist, though now I know many people are helped in this way.
I turned to God for practical wisdom on how to manage my life. And through the words of a long-dead, South-African theologian, God began to show me how to live differently. I don’t remember when I ran across Andrew Murray’s commentary on Exodus 16 regarding God’s provision of food to the Israelites in the wilderness, but here’s what it said:
“The day’s portion in its day: such was the rule for God’s giving and man’s working in the ingathering of the manna… God graciously appointed the change of day and night. If time had been given to him in the form of one long unbroken day, it would have exhausted and overwhelmed him … Broken small and divided into fragments, … only the care and the work of each day have to be undertaken: the day’s portion in its day. We are so easily led to look at life as a great whole, and to neglect the little today.”
The little today. When had I ever lived in the little today? I lived in last week. Last year. Ten years ago. Picking through and rearranging dusty hordes of regrets and mistakes in the attic of my mind. And I lived in tomorrow. Discontented with what was happening now, I daydreamed about the possibilities of someday when or what if. For me, time did not start with the rising of the sun and end with its setting. Life was “a great whole,” a continuum of waking … sleeping … waking … sleeping.
The day’s portion in its day. God gave the Israelites enough food for the day. Not too much, not too little. Elsewhere in the Bible I saw how he demonstrated this enough-for-today pattern in the way of creation (Genesis 1).
Day 1: Split light from the darkness. Enough for today. And it was good.
Day 2: Formed sky and water. Enough for today. And it was good.
Day 3: Crafted a place to grow daisies and oaks. Enough for today. And it was good.
Day 4: Rolled out the sun, moon, and stars. Enough for today. And it was good.
Day 5: Created whales and wrens. Enough for today. And it was good.
Day 6: Fashioned cats, rats (why?)—and people. Enough for today. And it was very good.
Day 7: Rested and reflected.
God being God could’ve made the whole world in an instant—snap! But instead he worked in the little today, creating only the day’s portion in its day. God showed me that to do better I had to do less.
My to-do list was overwhelming. I was busy all day but at the end of the day never felt like I’d accomplished anything. God’s daily to-do list was short, and he called it good.
It’s been three decades since that time in Antigua. To keep me centered, I handwrite a greeting to God in my journal first thing in the morning: Good morning, Lord Jesus. This is the day which you have made. Today, Friday, May 1, 2023. Today you have given me 16 (or so) waking hours and asked me to do just two things: love you and love people.
I “number my days” (Psalm 90:12, NLT), and then I make a plan for the day. My list doesn’t include everything I need to get done, but just enough so that at the end of the day, I can call it good. And some days I call it very good.
A speaker and an award-winning writer, Rebecca Stuhlmiller loves to help people take spiritual and practical steps to grow deeper in their relationship with Jesus and wider in loving service to others. She and her husband, Jeff, live in Federal Way, Washington. Connect at www.rebeccastuhlmiller.com.