The Morning Joy Challenge
The pink sun starts to draw itself above the black horizon as the familiar tones of my alarm clock ease me into wakefulness. By now, it has learned to be polite. It’s blurry, I’m pretty sure it’s too soon, but morning’s here nonetheless. A new day stretches out in front of me with a morning joy challenge in it. Even before I reach my toes to meet the rug, I have a choice to make about how I’ll enter the day: I can growl, I can bury my face for just. one. more. minute. Or I can choose differently.
I really want to CHOOSE JOY.
Let’s face it, mornings often arouse the bear in us. A litany of reasons to start the day under a cloud of tension and negativity often exist: a looming deadline, echoes of a previous day’s argument, nervousness about an upcoming appointment, the realization that it is time to begin the tired routine of dragging children out of bed…again. We often don’t begin our days with the perspective we wish we did. But the reality is that our mornings set the tone for the entire day.
So, is morning joy simply a decision we can make? Maybe. But most of us need a few reminders and a little help in order to discover it. I wonder just what might happen in the long run if more of us set our sights on pursuing true, and abiding joy.
Here at Joy Let Loose, you won’t find the notion that change is easy, or that perspectives or habits turn on a dime. No, you and I are going to start small. We do, after all, want to succeed, and most of us need to take small steps at first. So I’m inviting you to take The Morning Joy Challenge.
I believe you can do this. And if you can do it, then I can do it too!
Three steps to choose joy tomorrow morning:
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But I know that I can easily roll out and roll onward without first pausing and acknowledging the breath that I have in my lungs in a brand new day. Before even lifting your head from your pillow, or before sliding from the side of the bed, take a quiet moment to bring 5-10 breaths to the very bottom of your lungs, or as far as is comfortable. I love the sensation of my intercostal muscles stretching out.
With each inhale, be reminded of a simple Scriptural truth like, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). As you slowly exhale, be reminded that, “Nothing can separate me from the love of Jesus.” (Romans 8:39) As oxygen begins to invigorate the body, and the Word of God begins to renew your mind, I guarantee your feet will hit the floor better prepared for morning.
I try to practice gratitude throughout the entire day. My own life was revolutionized five years ago when I read Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are (see link below). Her challenge to unlock hands to receive grace moment by moment gripped me and made me long for it. But, I had to begin with smaller steps, like focusing on what I was thankful for first thing each morning.
Often I simply whisper my thanks as I begin to get ready for the day. As my feet hit the floor, I may thank the Lord for a warm home. When I lay eyes on myself in the mirror, I may whisper thanks for a new day to breathe and live and learn. As I pass my children’s bedrooms, I whisper my gratefulness for their incredible lives.
It’s an excellent idea to keep a gratitude journal, in which to write about the things–big and small–for which you are thankful, as they occur, or later as you reflect upon them. The One Thousand Gifts Devotional Journal might be an awesome place for you to start if you are looking for a way to capture your gratitude. Not only will journalling be a helpful reminder for you to actively give thanks, it will be a beautiful legacy of gratitude later on as its pages get dog-eared with tears and triumphs. Spend 2-3 minutes each morning voicing or writing out some things that make you thankful. A grateful heart is predisposed to find joy.
As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.
– Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
None of us wakes up fully aware of what lies ahead of us in the day. But we do generally have some ideas of what we have planned, and what might happen. What if we took a few moments to plan for hope? What would happen if, at the dawn of the day, we took a longview into the next 16 hours or so, pondered some of the potential interactions, the represented relationships, and the possible difficulties, and then breathed out hope over them all?
Perhaps by taking on this morning joy challenge, we would be better prepared for the day. Better prepared to handle the ins and outs and ups and downs with an attitude of grace and joy if we’ve first lifted them up specifically to the Lord, acknowledged what we think are best outcomes, then aligned ourselves with His best, and breathed prayers for our daily interactions. Crystal Brothers at Serving Joyfully suggests making a daily to-do list every morning, and then praying over it. Those who see through hope-filled eyes tend to navigate life in faith and joy.
Breathe, be thankful, and plan hope.
In a simple handful of minutes accompanied by the sunrise, I believe we can begin to revolutionize our mornings and our days. These three simple steps can help to set the trajectory of our remaining morning choices, making quiet time in the Word, prayer and exercise even more likely. So would you join me on this simple Morning Joy Challenge? These really are baby steps at this point, but we are laying a foundation for a journey toward joy.
I’d love your feedback and your stories as you take these first steps in this morning joy challenge! Subscribe to this blog to stay updated, and click “connect” to share your joy discoveries, or to ask a question. If you know of anyone who you’d like to invite along with us on a journey toward joy, please send them our way. Let’s let this joy loose!