Is your smartphone taking over your life? Is it the last thing you look at when you go to bed and the first thing you touch in the morning? If you sheepishly answered yes, then keep reading! I know how that feels.
In this previous post, I talked about how (to my dismay!) I discovered that I am addicted to my phone. I showed several different ways my phone is woven into my lifestyle—in both good ways and bad. I discussed how when I am stressed, I can literally feel a chemical change happening in my brain when I'm scrolling through interesting posts. I also admitted that my phone use was impacting my face-to-face time with my kids. I needed to fix this.
I've been implementing changes for how I use my phone. I believe that my smartphone is an amazing piece of technology, and I don't plan to get rid of it. I am simply trying to have a healthy balance that works for me. In that earlier post, I described how I strive to remain phone-free from 3:30 pm until 7:30 pm, because that is key kid-time. This is often a crazy time in our household both physically and mentally, and the kids are tired from school. I want to be present and ready to engage with them. I share a few do-able tips and tricks that are honestly working for me, so make sure you go check them out!
After a few weeks of being pretty successful at cutting back on overall screen time (I do slip up), I can tell the good habit is starting to grow. I am feeling less dependant on my phone. and I even misplaced (gasp!) my phone a few times—something that never happened when I was checking it multiple times an hour. (Am I the only person to actually be excited to lose track of my phone?)
So, seeing as how I'm making progress in one area, it felt like it's time to start on the next phase: my need for first-thing-in-the-morning screen time.
Okay, in full transparency, I am NOT a morning person. I love my late nights, and so anything that happens before 7 am is not an optimal time for me. I remember the short-lived phase where I attempted early morning exercise. I fell asleep on the living room floor mid-stretch! I just don't wake up easily.
I have been dependant on my phone to wake me up for a long time. It is my alarm clock, yes, but I used scrolling to jump-start my mind so that I could convince myself to swing those legs out of my cozy bed. I'd open my emails, or scroll through social media, or read up on the news for five to ten minutes until the mental fog cleared and I had a goal, or an idea, or a news article to stimulate me into wakefulness.
I don't like that. I don't like that the first thing on my mind might be some dreadful headline. If my first thoughts are the tasks I need to complete, is it any wonder I start my day feeling frazzled? Even if all I read is innocent fluff on social media, is filling my mind with other people's lives the best way to start my day? The way we start our mornings can set the tone for our whole day. As a Christian mom, the vibe I want to give off is a woman who cares deeply about partnering with God in big things and small. I want to start my mornings with God.
The Psalmist seemed to love his mornings with God! Here are four uplifting verses about the joy of seeking God in the mornings:
“In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.” - Psalm 5:3
“But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, for You have been my stronghold and a refuge in the day of my distress.” - Psalm 59:16
“I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands. I stretch out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, as a parched land. Answer me quickly, O Lord, my spirit fails; Do not hide Your face from me, or I will become like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in You. Teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You, I lift up my soul. Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; I take refuge in You. Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” - Psalm 143:5-10
“The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion says my soul, therefore I have hope in Him.” - Lamentations 3:22-24
Verses like these make me desire the best for my mornings! I want to start on the right foot, and that means starting my day with God. Starting my day with prayer helps me to not be anxious (Philippians 4:6-7) it helps me to be wise (James 1:5), and it begins my day in a place of gratitude (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).
A few months ago, before I even started cutting back on screen time, one episode of the TV series “Call the Midwife” buried itself in my mind. In the episode, the morning bell rings at a convent and all the nuns immediately toss off their blankets and kneel by their beds. Their first truly coherent thought of their day is prayer. It struck me as beautiful. I want the same thing in my life.
Thankfully, this shift takes only ONE, simple step!
The one thing I did was change my alarm so that I'm not slapping snooze multiple times. The first time that chirpy song goes off, I know it is prayer time. I have an alarm set for ten minutes later to let me know when I'm done. Does that sound rigid and not all that spiritual? Maybe. But I figure it's better to have scheduled God-time than no God-time at all.
I admire those of you who have dedicated Bible time in the mornings. I do better in the midday, and my best time is at night. I admit, my morning prayers are a little garbled. Sometimes they are just a stream of worries about my day as my mind kicks into gear. I have to remind myself to take time to praise God, to thank Him for my blessings, and ask for guidance and wisdom. I trust that with practice, early morning prayers will flow easier for me.
Though my morning prayer time is less than glamorous—there's no soft light streaming through the window or beautiful birdsong in mid-October—I feel good that I am not depending on mindless phone scrolling to start my day. I am replacing a draining habit with a life-giving one. I can tell that I am less stressed in the mornings. A happier mom means happier kids!
I am breaking my dependence on bite-sized media that crushes my attention span and gives my brain little, addictive bursts of stimulation. I am not starting my day with work, worry, comparison, or to-do lists, I am beginning in a place of seeking contentment and relationship with God.
How about you? Do you find yourself scrolling through your phone first thing in the morning? Do you think that is a bad habit?
If you regularly pray or read your Bible first thing in the morning, what started that habit, and what keeps it going?