I rarely have good mornings (except when the breakfast is really good). My best mornings are the ones I don’t have – when I get to sleep in. That’s just my preference. Fortunately, life is not about my preferences. Otherwise, I would be able stay awake perpetually without ever needing sleep! (Have you ever considered how life would be if you never needed to sleep? Your body not needing rejuvenation by the process of closing the eyes so as to shut down the body while preferably lying horizontally? Heavenly, right?). Today was one of those many mornings when I wake up and wish I could sleep until it’s lunch time! I also wished that I had woken before dawn to pray, read, write, eat, work, work out, draft this blog, make plans, follow through on a plan…to do something. In the midst of my wishes, I stayed half-awake in bed, as I often do, scrolling through things on my phone that I could have looked at later. One hour later, I wished I had just gotten off that bed one hour before and skipped my phone habits. I have had many a wishful mornings like this.
It reminded of something I read in my journal a while back. It’s an entry I made on 7th November, 2015. I had just turned 24. It was the morning after. Scratch that, it was the afternoon after. I definitely slept in that morning, or rather conked out! I had had a good time that previous night trying hard to forget all the things I wanted to not remember from the previous year. I was not successful. That’s when I decided to write a list of things I wanted to achieve/do at 24. I needed a revamp. Desperately. That’s the list I remembered this morning. I remembered it because I never finished it. The same way I didn’t finish sleeping this morning. The sad thing is that I listed only 6 things. It’s not that I never had many things I wanted to do, it’s just that I never had the discipline to list them down. I went a year without even noticing I never finished the list. I achieved only one thing in that list – moving out. However, I achieved a lot of things I did not plan for. Mostly because I did not have a plan. Rather, I did not have time to plan things so I wasted time doing a lot of things I did not plan to ever do. I suspect that I wanted to have such a good time without the pressure of checking whether I was really doing anything good. I ended up making a lot of regrettable choices because I tried living life as if there were no regrets.
Mornings like today’s remind me of that unfinished list. It reminds me what a lack of direction did (and could again do) to me. That having no specific path to follow is actually following a path to destruction. True to the Bible, where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18). If I have no sense of direction, any path will take me there, wherever there is! Having no definite destination, every step seems to be taking me there and every stop could be it! It’s quite an adventure. A dangerous one. After all, adventures have to do with danger, right? But this is the kind of danger that got me spanked as a kid. The proverbial don’t-play-with-fire kind that gets me burned. There is no end to it because I’d never (and didn’t) know when to stop. Sometimes, I won’t (and didn’t) even know how to stop. It’s at the end that I find out that all the things that seem to fill me up are instead emptying me and my life is full but not fulfilling. Again, true to the Bible, it’s easy to be one of those guys who become worthless for following worthless things! (Jeremiah 2:5, 2 Kings 17:15)
These were my thoughts this morning. Half-stressed about the things I had not done while I was snoozing and half-worried about all the things I now had to attend to with lesser time, I labored through my morning routine. Half-way through, I did the same thing I do so often – promise myself that I will do better. That tonight I will sleep earlier and therefore wake up earlier tomorrow. You see, “It takes more discipline to go to bed on time than to get up on time. There are not as many pressures to go to bed. And sleep is so boring compared to playing or going out or watching TV.” (John Piper). As I thought about all these things, analyzed my usual mornings and reflected on past thoughts/experiences in my life I was able to realize/remember a few things that are worth writing about.
I considered the pace at which I do things; how quick I am to snooze the alarm, how slow I am to wake up, how quickly I agree to “one more show/movie/game/chapter before I sleep, how slowly I have become slothful to crucial morning routines…I considered how all these affect how I pursue the bigger picture in life. How slow or fast I’m laying the building blocks of my life. How slow or fast I follow up the plans I make with action. It is now clear to me that pace is important. The rate at which I do things matters a lot. However, I think pace is guided by direction. When I forget (or don’t even know) where I’m heading, I lose a sense of direction, spiral out of control and get off pace. I may not even notice it, but I dive head first into matters I have no business in and drag my feet in areas I must be focused on. Whenever I find myself in such a pattern, I must slow down to recalibrate then pick up speed as I regain speed. For instance, should I find myself in a lazy sleep pattern, I must wake up and get on with the day immediately. There is no room for slacking. There is no room for lazy mornings.
I have also realized that I have no time to waste. Anything that does not start anywhere, end at a specific point and has no definite rules of engagement therefore, is a waste of time. There is no victory in that, for there are no specific goals/guidelines to even tell when me I have achieved it. Therefore, I cannot afford to live without goals. To put it in context, I have recently been thinking about where I am in life. The age, achievements, job, friends etc. In a conversation about this with my pastor a few weeks ago, as I recounted my blessings, I couldn’t help but ask “how did I get here?”. I didn’t ask in regret or confusion as I have many times before, but rather with gratitude. It wasn’t a ‘kwani jana kuliendaje’ moment. I’m further than I imagined I would ever be but it’s as if I didn’t see it happening. My pastor was wise enough to respond with a challenge I won’t forget for a while, “Imagine how further ahead you would be if you had paid attention to the processes that took you here?!” You see, opportunities come and go in a moment. Sometimes I take them but never utilize them fully because I go with the flow. It’s the moments that I have caught that have propelled me further ahead. It’s the moments that I have winged/slacked through that have prevented me from being even further ahead. To do better with the opportunities I get, I must learn to catch all the moments. To catch the moments, I must learn not to waste time. Not wasting my time means I must live life with an end goal in mind, have milestones to measure progress and put boundaries to keep me from wandering off. As Apostle Paul wrote, I must not box as one beating the air. (1 Corinthians 9:26) I must land my punches. And not just land them, but land them hard and smack on target. To do all this, I must wake up!
The final thing I learned was from the list I never finished. The list of 24 things I was to do at 24. A list that ended up being 6 things, of which I only did one. Number 5 on that list was “Never go 24 hours without praying.” (Enyewe, kila kitu kwa hio list ilikuwa na theme ya 24! I bet ningeimaliza ningesema nioe in 24 months. Maybe ni poa sikuimaliza coz hizo 24 months ishaisha na niko vile niko tu.) I digress. Of course, I never achieved that. In fact, at 24 I clocked the most number of 24 hours without prayer in my entire life. (Hata chakula nilikuwa nakula tu!) That was a huge mistake and it cost me a great deal. The real error was not just having an incomplete list, no real plan, but rather not praying. Without God, what could I really do? It’s the same question I have pose to myself today. What’s all this wisdom about not wasting time if I don’t submit my plans to the One who is the beginning and the end? What’s the fuss of keeping up the pace if I’m in sync with the maker of life? If I don’t pay attention to God’s plan on the daily, how will I know whether my plans are off or not? It’s no mistake that the Bible says that we pray constantly, without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17). To get anything in my life right, then, I must pray. Daily. Constantly. Without ceasing. This does not negate my responsibility in getting things right. It just acknowledges that as I do so, it is really God that works in me both to will and work for his good pleasure! (Philippians 2:12,13) This not only helps me plan but even extends my expectations higher for I become constantly aware that God’s plan is way better than mine. It gives me a responsibility that is beyond me to get my mornings right!
That’s how I plan to have a good morning tomorrow. And the day after. And the one after that. Having a sense of urgency because I have sense of awareness of what I have to do. Having a sense of awe because I know God will do even much more. Keen on the moments so that I can fully savor the workings of God as well as fully enjoy the work of my hands. To be so aware of the times that when I ask how I got anywhere I can confidently say, “God’s plan!”