I’ve started reading Rob Lowe’s first autobiography, Stories I Only Tell My Friends. In the first chapter he talks about a time when he was unhappy with his personal life and frustrated with his career. If a young Rob Lowe can feel that way about his life and career then what about the rest of us?
Rob’s experience is a life lesson, because if you can have those feelings of unhappiness and doubt after having been a successful movie star and with his good looks, then you know that having all of those things does not lead to peace and happiness.
I think this is something we all know deep down inside, but are loath to admit. We would much rather have the movie career and good looks and then decide for ourselves—okay am I happier now? Unfortunately, for most of us, we aren’t going to get that chance. We’re going to have to take our lives just as they are, sans movies and good looks, and get along as best we can.
What I draw from Rob Lowe is that these fears and doubts happen to all of us. No one is immune. I got laid off from my law firm back in 2009. I sold my house in DC and moved to Colorado without a clue as to what I was going to do for a career. As I now begin my writing career, I face a blank canvas.
In truth, every day is a blank canvas. We just live under the illusion that our future is set, but we have no guarantees of anything. This unknown, this doubt that each of us faces in life, is a universal teacher. It is harsh and unrelenting. None of us will be able to hide our eyes from the truth forever. Eventually, our illusion of control will be stripped away, and we will be forced to face the truth.
There is a method to this madness. There is a lesson to be learned. There are two ways we can enjoy peace in this life, faith or the lilies of the field. Faith is simple to understand, but hard to do, and that is to simply have faith that God will always deliver you. The lilies of the field is similar but with a slight twist and that makes all the difference.
The lesson of the lilies of the field can be found in the Gospels.
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
. . .
So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 6:28-29; 34.
Almost every Christian knows this lesson but nearly everyone ignores it, considering it too difficult to even attempt, or believing that God would only provide for those with enough faith to walk on water. But the secret lies in the final verse, “do not worry about tomorrow”.
Most of us, like Rob Lowe, don’t like where we’re at and think that happiness and fulfillment exist somewhere in the future, but not now. We believe this even though we know that we are not guaranteed tomorrow. The only reality is right now, but we persist in looking to the future for our happiness. We have to realize that the only time we can be happy is right now. Nothing else exists.
This is the key. Ask yourself: Is it possible for you to be happy right now?
The answer is yes.
As for your worries about tomorrow, ask yourself: Are you okay right now?
The answer here is also yes. Because if something is going wrong with you right now, you’re dealing with it, not worrying about it. That’s a big difference.
Let me give you an example. Several years ago while playing racquetball one night with a buddy of mine, I dislocated my left knee and right elbow. They had to call an ambulance to come and cart me off to the emergency room, where the doctors “popped” me back together again.
Now, during the time I was laying on the racquetball court, writhing in pain, waiting for the ambulance, I was faced with a decision. I knew that in the emergency room the doctors would have to “pop” me back together, and that would be excruciating. Now, I was already in pain, but the question was whether or not I wanted to worry about the pain yet to come. I could sense the fear that came with that worry. It was as if I could see it, sitting on the racquetball court staring at me. I could also see how I would be turned into a babbling idiot, if I let that fear in.
I decided to hold the fear off at arms-length. I would deal with what was already on my plate, and not worry about the future. I would deal with whatever came as it happened. So yes, I was in pain, but I wasn’t afraid, and that made a big difference.
This is the secret to the lilies of the field, deal only with what is on your plate, and don’t worry about all the things that may be coming down the pipe.
So today, I do not know what my future holds, and like Rob Lowe in the first chapter of his book, I have no idea where my career is headed, but unlike Rob, I do my best to not worry about it. I know I am fine today, and I’ll take tomorrow on, when it gets here.
And if that doesn’t work I suggest having a pumpkin latte.