Mornings are my jam.
If you’re not a morning person, you’re probably rolling your eyes right about now. Don’t hate me. It’s how I was made, just like you were made to get your mojo on around 4:30 in the afternoon (yawn). I’ve always been this way.
Even when my babies kept me awake all night, I still loved mornings; who can resist the snuggly bed-headed toddler lugging his bedraggled bunny? Not me.
Mornings are a chance for a fresh start.
If you read this blog regularly, or follow me online, the you know I have this thing about the prefix re-, which means, “again, back, once more.” There’s a word in the Hebrew that express it beautifully: shuwb. It means to return, restore, refresh, repair.
We serve a “Re- God!” His mercies are new every morning. “Return,” He says, “I will restore.” With God, every day is a do-over.
Morning person or not, we all have to face a new day, every single day. The question is, how?
Rituals are the heartbeat of my mornings.
- Coffee (pour-over… that in itself is a ritual)
- Candle (seasonally selected)
- My “no-nonsense-I-mean-business Lemome journal”
- Stacks of books: Bibles, reference books, devotionals, pens
- Blueletterbible.org where just this morning I looked up the Hebrew word for “ritual” (shocker: it comes from the root *re – to number or count)
My rituals ground me on those mornings when my mind begins to slip and slide its way into worry.
They set the stage for my heart to be open and prepared to worship. But I must be careful here, because it’s so easy to worship the ritual and before you know it the means becomes the end.
As a writer, morning is when I get fueled up. Something I read will spark a word study or inspire a poem or future blog post. I’m most fully me when that happens but the temptation is to seek God for what I can get rather than for who He is. Like earlier this morning: “Yoo hoo – hellooo, where are you, God? I have to write a blog post today and I. Need. A. Word. NOW.”
Here’s how I know I’ve become too rigid about my morning rituals:
- I’m more excited about coffee and candles than I am about connecting with Christ.
- My prayer and worship time becomes dry.
- I don’t hear from the Lord.
- I’m easily distracted and get frustrated with interruptions.
Thankfully, God knows my propensity for this and so He often messes with me by bringing just the right distractions and interruptions. (“What do you mean, you forgot to buy coffee??”)
Have you ever googled “how to connect with God?” or “how to have a successful prayer life?” Even the most non-liturgical God seeker inadvertently develops their own rituals and liturgy. We like steps and formulas. Just show us what to do and we’ll do it. Then we cling to those ways like squirrels on a power line.
The thing is, God will not be reduced to a formula.
If you spend much time online or browsing women’s devotions, you get this cozy, rosy, vision of spending time with Jesus. You know what I’m talking about:
Tea Time With Your Savior – china cup, soft music playing in the background, comfy chair and throw, Jesus Calling on your lap and the cat at your feet. Oh, yea, and you in your jammy pants. (I refuse to call them jammy pants. I’m not four years old).
Where on earth did that perception come from?
For your average woman, quiet time looks more like this:
Cold coffee in a cup that says, “THE CHAINS ON MY MOOD SWING JUST SNAPPED. RUN.”
The pounding bass of your teenager’s rap music rattling your teeth, your Mother Calling and the cat hacking up a hair ball. You are in your jammy pants but they should have been thrown in the laundry days ago.
Good luck entering the Throne Room. There are so many toys on the floor you can barely wade through the living room.
You showed up, though. That counts, right?
How did we make this whole thing so hard?
Why can’t we just be easy in our relationship with Jesus?
They (the experts) tell us to pray acronyms like ACTS – adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication (all good things, by the way) or to keep a prayer journal. But if Jesus is my friend, why do I have to try so hard? Why can’t my time with Him be like spending time with my girlfriends? Catching up, cackling, crying, commiserating.
Christ died to set us free from the tyranny of rituals and rules. Rituals only serve to point the way to Him. He is The Way.
I still love my rituals but I’m done with all the striving. You want to know how liberated I am these days? Some mornings I worship by taking a word or phrase He gave me and turning it into a graphic to post later on Instagram. My writer friend Katie Jo Ramsey sometimes pulls out her watercolors. I might not read the Word at all (gasp!) but just sit in His Presence. Maybe I’ll sing. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll be overwhelmed by His Presence. Maybe not.
The one thing I will do every morning is show up. That’s the ritual that counts. Click To Tweet
What if your morning ritual looked more like this:
(ok, go ahead, get your coffee or tea first—if you don’t, not even Jesus wants to be around you)
- Light a candle and think of Jesus, the light of the world. Tell Him thank you.
- Bring your Bible (physical or Bible app)… I use both.
- Grab your journal. And yes, you should be journaling. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. How else will you know what you think?
- Before you do anything else, say hello to the Father. Invite Jesus to spend time with you. Welcome the Spirit. Close your eyes. Breathe.
Feels good, doesn’t it?
Next, proceed as directed and by that, I mean simply ask the Holy Spirit what He would like this time to look like. What activity would draw you into His Presence? It won’t necessarily be the same thing every day. We serve a God who is multi-dimensional and who calls us to seek him in a multitude of ways.
So, on the days when you wake up late, the kids are screaming and the phone is ringing, try this: Breathe in, breathe out and repeat after me:
“I am His beloved even on my worst days.”
That counts, too.