My Morning Routine

I am a morning person. Assuming I have gotten adequate sleep, I wake up  feeling energized, anticipating the day’s events, and clear headed. I have learned,  especially in recent years, how important it is to harness my mornings and prioritize habits that spiritually form me and allow space to be still before the Lord. If I don’t  intentionally order my mornings to offer myself to God, then I find I offer myself to other gods like productivity, selfishness, and people pleasing and my day is set on a markedly different path.    

Each morning, I snooze my alarm once (or maybe twice), roll out of bed and, on most days, immediately make the bed. This small act at the very beginning of my day helps remind me to partner with God to create order out of chaos. This is an idea that has stuck with me ever since I read it in Tish Harrison Warren’s book, Liturgy of the Ordinary. She discusses how the first thing God did in creation was to hover over the dark and formless waters and speak order into it (Genesis 1:1-5). When I make my bed in the morning I acknowledge that God is the one who orders my day, and it reminds me of his invitation to partner with him in that. He desires to bring order out of chaos, and sometimes that requires me examining and acknowledging the chaos in my  heart, and inviting him into it, before rushing into the day ahead.    

Mornings are a time of transition. Transition from the peace of sleep into a world of stimulus and distraction. Transition out of the previous day's events, emotions and experiences. Transition into what may be a busy schedule, or an anticipated activity. But there is an opportunity in this liminal space, a choice to intentionally process yesterday, and prepare for what is next. It is this transitional space that I invite Jesus  into. It is where I feel most able to see myself and to see God clearly. I create the space to behold Jesus, re-center my thoughts and heart on the gospel. As I battle the shame of yesterday's sins I remind myself that I am forgiven, for his mercies are in fact new every single morning. It is not as though these realizations cannot take place at other times of the day, but I think there is something sacred about this transitional time.    

The Bible speaks many times on the concept of giving back to God the first fruits of  everything we have been given (Deuteronomy 26:10-11). This concept is something  that has stuck with me as I build my morning routines. The first fruits of my time each day is my morning. I see the difference between offering the first fruits of my day to the  Lord, and offering the first fruits of my day to my selfish desires. It is my sinful desire to  serve self when I neglect the presence of God in the morning. When I wake up and my head is full of thoughts regarding work, plans later or chores I need to get done, and I instead open my planner in place of my Bible, my day starts off in a frenzied state. Wondering how I will ever get everything done, thinking about the steps I need to take  to accomplish my goals. And the longer I spend thinking about myself and my day in the  morning the harder it gets to retreat back into that transitional space where I can lay down my burdens, pick up Christ's promises and behold Him.    

Often times I feel tempted to skip over this morning time because I know it will bring up the challenging emotions. The hurt I felt about a conversation from yesterday that I had previously brushed aside. The unprocessed grief I keep shoving down. I know in that quiet space the Spirit will bring to mind sin that I need to repent of. I know it will be a space where the Lord has to lovingly chip away at my rough edges. These quiet mornings are when I decide which burdens I will attempt to carry with me throughout the day, and which I will lay at the feet of Jesus. So I create space to simply behold Him, to listen.    

When I create space in my morning to spend time, journaling, praying and reading the word, I find his voice clearer and his presence close. It is in these moments of safety when I feel the freest to express the emotions that I am feeling. Expressing emotions is not a strong suit of mine. Especially negative emotions. I find myself more able to feel negative or sad emotions in these morning times with the Lord as he gently coaxes out the beliefs and feelings behind them. I have been growing lately in my ability to trust that God moves towards me in my emotions and mess. That he wants to hear my cries, whether they be joyful or full of sorrow. I am reading stories in the Bible through a new lens, where Jesus expresses deep emotions, acknowledging that even Jesus had and expressed emotions to God and his community. Sometimes it takes me days to understand why I am feeling emotions and, through prayer and journaling, God may reveal to me what is behind it as I sit in them with him.    

Allowing God into to my emotions each morning has been a transformative, scary, and beautiful experience. However, I am prone to pride, and sometimes assume I can carry myself through the day. That sitting in my emotions is a waste of time and not what God wants from me. So I avoid giving God the first fruits of my time. I get caught up in my to do list and I start my day before recognizing the one who is ultimately in charge of my time. Those days are hectic. Those days are long. Those are the days I struggle to identify my own emotions and relate well to others. And when those days turn into weeks, I sometimes lose myself. And when those weeks in the past have turned into months, they are seasons of my life where I have felt most distant from God.    

I believe we are creatures of routine, and God made us to live within boundary lines and order. My morning routine in which I behold my savior is one of the most important routines I could engage in. Even though I know this, some days it is still a struggle to choose it. But despite the daily struggle, I have never once regretted offering my first fruits to the Lord.  

Whether it’s ten minutes or two hours, the Lord is gracious to not withhold his presence.  
He is able to hold me in the emotions that arise in that space.  
He is merciful to correct and rebuke me when I bring my sins and repentance to him.  
He is faithful to encourage and delight in me, every morning.

- Amelia Jones