I have been a late-night girl since at least high school… and that was a while ago. This carried right into my college and seminary days. I seemed to do my best thinking around midnight. And now that I think about it, procrastination (my other bad habit), probably had a lot to do with how I began my late-night habits. If I had a paper due at 8 a.m., I had no choice but to stay up until it was done. Somehow, it worked.
Naturally, even after graduating I have continued with this habit of staying up too late and then hating life at 6 a.m. People told me that having kids would change this. It didn’t. With a newborn, it’s true, exhaustion takes over and you sleep when you can, but after my babies became good night-time sleepers, I was back to my old ways. No more papers to write these days, but not to worry. New habits filled the spot- sewing & embroidery, clicking away on the internet, and past seasons of Downton Abbey became my downfall.
What’s worse than being exhausted in the mornings, was that my times with the Lord became infrequent. Once the day was in full-swing with the kids, there really wasn’t a good time to sit with Him undistractedly. So my spiritual life began to suffer. And then on the days I did find the time, it seemed like God was always telling me the same thing: Get up and seek Me. If I look back in my journal, He has been calling me to this since at least February, and I have struggled to make it happen. (We are now in JULY, folks!) It just seemed I was stuck, and that it was impossible for me to change.
My Heart Change
I finally became disgusted with myself after waking one morning after an exceptionally late night and realizing I was wasting my life (or at least some of it). I really wanted to change and knew I needed the Lord’s help and forgiveness for not obeying Him sooner. I went to Psalm 32.
You may have heard verse 8 that says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” Everyone loves that promise, but rarely do you hear the very next verse, which is the one that most struck me that morning:
Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.
And I knew in my spirit that the Lord was giving me a gentle rebuke. Here He was being faithful to instruct me in the way I should go (vs 8), yet I was acting like a mule, as if I had no understanding, i.e. foolishly, the exact opposite of wisdom which we value so much in our family. But this rebuke was so gentle, I could really feel the Lord’s love in it. It made me determined to become an early riser for His sake, the seek Him first thing in the morning and order the rest of my day around Him.
Some Practical Help
So, once I had this heart change, I began trying to figure out how to make it happen. How do you change decades worth of bad habits? Here are the steps I took to become an early riser:
1. I found 3 posts online that were very helpful. I recommend you read Michael Hyatt’s: How to Become a Morning Person and The Humbled Homemaker’s: Find Rest with a Night-Time Routine & My Plan for Adrenal Fatigue Recovery. The practicality of these articles helped me picture how my evenings and mornings would need to change so I could become an early riser.
2. I decided to write out my goal, which leads me to the first free resource I promised you. I used (and am giving you) a SMART Goal Sheet. (I think this came from Mops.org, but I just can’t remember). This helps you think about your goal in terms of the SMART acrostic: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. I actually tried this back in February, but it didn’t help me because I gave myself a month to reach it. Remember, I’m a procrastinator. This time, I decided to just try it for a week. I decided that if I woke up early 5 out of 7 days, then I would consider it a success. Be sure to click on the image to download your own SMART Goal Sheet.
3. I make sure my kitchen is clean before I go to bed. This is a tip from a friend. Waking up to a clean kitchen is so much more refreshing than waking up to last night’s mess.
4. I get my coffee pot ready before I go to bed. This has been a huge part of my success. Knowing that all I have to do is hit the Start button and coffee will await me in minutes is a big motivator to get up earlier.
5. I gather together my Bible, journal, pen, etc. at night. Not having to look for it when I first wake up is nice.
6. I consider what I’ll be missing if I sleep in. Those quiet morning hours have become a refreshment to my soul that I don’t want to miss. It’s become vital to me. I want this time alone with God, in the quiet. No kids, just me, God & coffee. It makes my whole day.
7. I set my alarm and leave it across the room. If it’s next to the bed, I WILL hit snooze. No question about it. But having to physically get out of the bed to turn it off is a win. As soon as I turn it off, I immediately turn on my coffee pot and look forward to what God wants to speak to me.
8. I pray. I ask God to give me success, ultimately so He will be glorified for working this change in me that I never thought was possible. I really mean that. I have believed for a long time that I’d never be one of those women who get up before her kids and seek God, even though I wanted it. But He is doing this work in Me and I am amazed. I also ask Him to give me determination to keep wanting it. If you don’t want it, you won’t wake up for it.
9. I keep a log of what time I go to bed and what time I wake up. I also note what I was doing at night that either hurt or helped me go to bed earlier. This is yours as well, if you’d like. Just click on the image & it’s yours!
It’s Your Turn
So, what about you? Have you been feeling like you need to wake up earlier this summer? I hope this post will encourage you to believe that you can & give you some practical help to accomplish it.
If you do wake up early, take a picture & post it to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtags #sherisesearly and #Matt633. I’d love to see many of you join with me in seeking God first thing. Check out some of the pics I’ve taken so far on Instagram and Twitter. I’ll have to post some to Facebook soon!
What’s your best advice for waking up early? Feel free to share in the comments!