What’s Your Handle Going to Be?

Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.

~ Henry Ward Beecher

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) was an American evangelist who became famous on the lecture circuit. This 19th Century Christian minister had a keen mind and was skilled at using humour and common language to appeal to his audiences. This quote bears witness to Beecher’s ability to use imagery to communicate an idea effectively.

On the surface, Beecher’s words seem to be about faith; yet, to me, he is talking about choice. He speaks here not about the past or the present, but about the future – our tomorrows. The other concept at play here is that of planning – making choices about our future. Planning is essential to a successful and happy future, and these words speak to us, across more than a century, about a foundation we can build that will either support our life plans, or guarantee their foundering.

“Every tomorrow has two handles.” Beecher’s initial portion of wisdom is to break down future time into manageable units of time. It is too easy to become lost or overwhelmed when discussing our future in vague terms that could mean years and decades. Instead, he begins with a tomorrow. It is a single day with twenty-four hours; a manageable period that is within our comfort zone. Not only is this unit of time easily considered, but his message infers that his advice to choose must be followed on a daily basis.

He uses the image of tomorrow as a vessel with two handles – not unlike a cooking pot. He names the one handle “anxiety”. Should we choose to embark on our tomorrow with anxiety, it is a lot like building a structure on loose sand. We begin our tomorrow with feelings of fear and uncertainty about the outcome. If we are nervous or uneasy as we anticipate the new day, it is difficult to summon the courage to face any obstacles or challenges that tomorrow may bring. Anxiety is a negative factor in our daily living because it deprives us of any sense of confidence. Failure looms ominously as the likely outcome.

Beecher labels the second handle as “faith”. Clearly, as a man of God, he is referring to a person’s faith in God – in God’s love and His plan. When a person is armed with the belief that the omnipotent God is walking the journey with him or her; this becomes a source of great confidence. All of our tomorrows are uncertain. No matter how detailed our planning, we can always count on unexpected events to occur. We use our faith as a steady support when the journey becomes difficult. When we choose to have faith, we have decided to approach our tomorrow with a positive attitude.

Faith also means that we believe in ourselves. As human beings, we are works in progress. We continue to learn and to grow; but this process also includes the certainty of making mistakes and experiencing failures. We know that we are flawed and need to improve in certain ways. This self-awareness should never impede our forward movement in life. We also need to focus on our strengths and our skills and have faith that we can use them to deal with life’s challenges. With faith in myself, I can look forward to my tomorrows with confidence and courage. This kind of positivism provides a firm foundation upon which I can build my future tomorrows.

Beecher encourages us to choose a life of faith – a belief in God and a belief in ourselves as worthwhile and capable persons of great value. From this position of optimism a person can plan their tomorrow with a reasonable expectation of success. As well, choosing each and every day to have faith in yourself means that you have judged yourself to be a person of great value. Faith is the seed of happiness.

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Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December, 2013, and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (http://fiorabooks.com), to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

25 thoughts on “What’s Your Handle Going to Be?”

  1. The Blessed Fellows have faith in our fellow man although anxiety is always lurking in the background even for the Most Blessed Fellow which at times is rather hard to “handle”.

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  2. Great quote! I find that my faith in God and His plan for my future make it much easier to face every tomorrow with optimism and confidence that all is as it should be. I agree with you that planning is for the general direction my life is going. The details need to be flexible as the day-to-day living unfolds. Quote was well chosen.

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  3. Great reflection, John. I’ve never thought of the choices as handles, but it’s a very effective way to approach situations. Thank you for your brilliant comments — as always!

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  4. John thanks for reminding us how important and powerful faith is in our
    daily challenges. It also reminded me that without faith there is no such thing as hope. Tutus Amicus Semper. – Frank

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  5. Hi John. Did you write about Henry Ward Beecher in another blog? I thought you mentioned something about him being related to Harriet Beecher Stowe. Still a good topic of discussion.

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  6. I come by anxiety honestly…but I have really focused my life and my career on being positive and reinforcing all that I have to be grateful for… which gives me the confidence and strength to face every day with a strong sense of faith. Great quote and very impactful blog!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Dianna! Sorry about “outing” you here, but what are fathers for? All kidding aside, I appreciate you taking the time to visit and leave us your thoughts. Thanks for your kind words!

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  7. Hi John, Beecher seemed to recognize that viewing one’s future ‘one day at a time’ is a better approach. I personally have learned that planning is fine but accepting what comes your way & not looking too far ahead is the best way to stay grounded.

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    1. I agree, Teresa, and I don’t plan in great detail knowing that circumstances will always serve to impact on our chosen path. Plan your direction and leave the details for the day-to-day living. I appreciate your visit and your thoughts today!

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  8. I think we all waffle back and forth between those two poles–faith and anxiety–at different times, but hopefully, we spend more time cemented in faith. A thoughtful post as always, John, and a reminder to place our life in God’s hands while at the same time having faith in the abilities he’s given us!

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  9. Profound thoughts on this John – facing tomorrow with positivity is certainly preferable to dreading what is to come. I’ve tried both, and being confident in your ability is key to how you go forward and keep growing.
    Thanks for introducing me to Mr. Beecher 😀

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    1. Thank you very much, Jan! I can relate – I’ve experienced both handles as well. There is no substitute for a positive outlook. Life can be tough enough without crippling yourself with anxiety and a lack of faith. You’re welcome – I’m sure the Reverend Beecher would have been a person worth knowing. I appreciate your ongoing support, Jan!

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