Firsts

Usually, when someone thinks about “firsts,” they think about a baby’s first step, a first kiss, a first car, first job, etc…  And to some degree, I do too.  But as I get older, “firsts” conjures ideas about prioritizing to me.  I don’t know if you’re like me, but when I wake up in the morning, I have certain things I need to take care of “first.”  First, I need to read the Bible.  First, I need to exercise to get my body revved.  First, I need to pray for His guidance, and for all those that I love.  First thing, I need to journal, so I can clear my head.  Right away, I need to look at the calendar to see what’s on tap for the day or week.  First, I need to get dressed, so that I’ll feel – and therefore be – productive.  Before I get to anything else, I need to read the newspaper, so I’m not some stereotypical, stay-at-home, bathrobe-wearing, uninformed mom.

And it’s not just my rather obsessive need to be organized so that my day runs smoothly – leading experts in their categories all claim that to do each of these things “first” will enhance our day, our lives, our relationships, our self-worth, and the list goes on.  For instance, the popular  internet website FlyLady.com espouses the need to get dressed, right down to the shoes, so that we don’t feel and act like a slug, letting the clutter in our homes overtake our lives.  Most pastors and Bible experts will extol the virtues of prayer and dedicated Bible reading to start our day off right.  If we are in the presence of His word, and seeking His truth, He will guide us through each and every decision we make during the day.  If we are right with Him “first,” calm and wisdom will surely follow throughout the day.  Doctors and physical fitness gurus all advocate exercise first thing each morning.   The American Council on Exercise encourages strenuous physical activity in the mornings as a way to jumpstart our metabolism, calibrate our body clock, and give us increased energy for the day.  In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron champions journaling, a.k.a. “the morning pages” because “all that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in the morning stands between you and your creativity.”

Now, to be honest, I’m not opposed to doing any of these things “first.”  In fact, I understand exactly why experts say each of these things should be done “first.”  Given that we all would rather spend time doing what we like to do more than what we should be doing, it’s not surprising that to commandeer our time doing that which will benefit us most should be given utmost priority.  We’re all creatures of habit, and if the day gets going without taking care of those “firsts,” the phone will begin to ring, the children will begin to cry, the washing machine will overflow, the car will get a flat, the bills will need to be paid, or we’ll just plain waste our time doing the unimportant, rather than the imperative things in our daily lives.

So the conundrum for me is to choose which “first” first.  In my view, they are all paramount to my day being a successful one.  Some days the prioritizing is easier than the day before; sometimes it’s not.  However, there is one “first” that is always the cardinal one for me: my prayer and Bible time.  For me, my day really does flow better if that is done before all else.  When I spend that time with Him, I don’t have to priortize anything myself; He does it for me.  Putting Him first gives me – truly – freedom from what all the experts tell me to do, what the world tells me to do, and for that matter, what I tell myself to do.  That’s why, of all the things in my life that are fundamental to starting any day out right, He will always be first.

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