The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)
Do you ever find yourself getting up in the morning and feeling like it is just another day? Same bed, same shower, same thoughts, same job, same clothes… It’s easy to get stuck on autopilot where the date changes, but nothing else really seems to change. It’s almost as if you are living one long day.
Sometimes you might even start the day strong, but once you get into your daily routine find yourself depleted or tired and in need of a pick-me-up. I wonder if that’s part of the reason the Starbuck’s drive-thru near my house is just as busy in the afternoon as it is in the morning.
In fact, many of us live our lives this way and we forget that each day is a new day with new possibilities and opportunities. We need to renew ourselves daily so we can experience life each day and experience God’s mercies that are new every morning.
Here are three ways you can renew yourself daily:
- Create a renewing morning ritual. Roosters crow, the neighbor’s dog barks, birds chirp, and what do we do? Slowly roll out of bed, moan, and drag ourselves to the bathroom. Not too inspiring, is it? Create a morning ritual that wakes you up and gets you excited. I realize the non-morning people may have just rolled their eyes! This may be a morning prayer or a morning meditation that you do first thing when you wake up. You could also have a motto you say upon rising, like “I’m awake, what a gift to be alive today!” Or you could jump out of bed and say, “Thank you!” On a more morbid note, there are a lot of people (an estimated 150,000 according to quora.com) in the world that did not wake up this morning, and we forget that just waking up is worth some thanksgiving. For you crazy people out there like me, jump in a cold shower for a few seconds (of course, consult your doctor if you have any medical conditions that could be affected by this like heart problems). This will really wake you up and it delivers some adrenaline to get you going.
- Change your breathing. One of the easiest and best ways we know to help renew ourselves at any time of the day is to take deep breaths! If you are like me, you rarely stop and think, “How am I breathing today?” If you are stressed out your breathing is usually shallower and you are anticipating something you are more than likely holding your breath more than you realize. Our breathing is part of what communicates to our body what’s going on around us (is it safe out there or not?), so it’s important to remind our bodies that it’s safe and okay to grow and live well. I recommend taking at least 2-3 breaks during the day and taking six deep breaths (inhale through the nose and exhale out the mouth, if possible). Sometimes I will have clients do this in session to reset and get into a more relaxed state. Even with a few deep breaths a lot of tension can be released.
- Connect with God and others in a meaningful way. Even as an introvert, I find that if I stay in my own little world all day and don’t reach out and have meaningful connection in a day, I feel isolated and less energetic. Making sure I have a conversation, even if brief, with someone that I enjoy, can help renew and strengthen me during the day. I believe it has something to do with feeling part of something greater than myself. Take some time each day to have a renewing conversation with someone. If you are married, I hope you are in a marriage where you can have meaningful conversation and share life. When reading the Bible it seems clear that we were created to live in community with others and that in community we are at our most powerful. Also, and maybe even more important, is connecting with God in a meaningful way each day. Pray, meditation, thanksgiving, praise—find a way each day to connect with God past just the prayers at meals or in moments of desperation. As Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) states, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Today, try these way to renew yourself. Who knows what might happen with some renewed energy and purpose in your day! Get out of the monotony of life and wake yourself up to the world of possibility that is around you, even in difficult circumstances. Give your anxieties and worries to God and experience the life you were called to live.
One of my greatest joys in life is to help others find more joy and passion in their lives so they can live amazing lives. I love helping people break the patterns that are breaking them and keeping them from experiencing what life and their walk with Christ has to offer. You can contact me at New Vision Counseling if you would like to work with me.
In addition, we have other great therapists at New Vision that are more than happy to help you on the same journey. I encourage you to seek out help if you are feeling like you are in a place you don’t want to be emotionally or spiritually, whether that is in your individual life or in your relationships. Please reach out and get on your journey to better living and relating to yourself and others. We can be reached at (405) 921-7776.
Vows with Power: Adding Commitments to Your Marriage After the New Wears Off
By: Summer Smith, LCSW
March 18th, 2018 was one of the most special days of my life. I stood in a beautiful chapel, in front of my family and friends, and exchanged vows with the man of my dreams. The week before, I took my time and wrote a paragraph full of meaningful promises that I felt were most important in the success of our marriage. As our very first anniversary approaches, I’ve learned that those promises were indeed meaningful, but I could have said so many more specific, purposeful things that might have drawn a clearer road map for our happily ever after. For example, I could have said, “I promise I will do the dishes when you cook the dinner”. I could have vowed, “I will take the kids to school if you will pick them up” or “I will hold your hand at every opportunity”. As I’m writing this, my knight in shining armor is in the kitchen, on his third, excruciating hour of assembling a filing cabinet for my new office. Perhaps one of his more constructive vows on our wedding day might have been, “I commit to assembling whatever you order on Amazon without cursing at it or destroying it in the process”. That one might have come in handy this evening, though I must say, the filing cabinet is in tact and I never heard any four-letter-words that weren’t printed on the instructions. I’m so proud!
It’s no secret that marriage in reality is drastically different than the expectation we had at the altar. However, if we approach it the right way, it can be far better than we imagined! Here are some ideas for updating your vows and renewing your marriage, no matter how long you’ve been in it!
Identify Your Problem Areas
If you’ve got even a few months of marriage under your belt, chances are you’ve already noticed some problem areas. Perhaps your spouse has an annoying habit that used to be cute but is now overwhelming. Maybe you’re learning that when your husband is upset with you, he shuts down or that your wife uses critical language to influence the behavior she wants from you. It’s possible one of you has inadvertently taken on the role of initiating sex, but is starting to feel resentful that the sex is never initiated by your spouse. Whatever the less-than-ideal areas in your partnership, big or small, identify them with your spouse and then begin open discussion with ideas for improvement.
Replace Vague with Specific
On our wedding day, we said “For better or worse, for richer or poorer”, but what exactly does worse mean for you and your spouse? What is rich in your book and what is poor in hers? As you begin to identify the problem areas in your marriage, explore very specific strategies for improvement. Instead of saying, “I will try to touch you more often”, say “I will kiss you every morning before I leave and hug you every day when I return home.” Instead of, “I’ll be more mindful of our budget”, try promising, “I will not make a purchase over $300 without consulting you first.” Specific, measurable commitments give us a clear path to follow and leave less room for interpretation. These types of promises are easy to execute and make it easy to know whether you did or did not deliver!
Some Templates to Get You Started
If a blank slate seems too daunting, consider some of these pre-written promises to get your wheels turning. I surveyed multiple married people who shared some of their current problem areas. From those, I created some phrases that might give rise to resolution. Some of these are from my own marriage and have been incredibly helpful. It’s so refreshing to have some specific, measurable rules for navigating this love game we play together every day! Feel free to adopt any of these or get creative with your own!
I will pray out loud with you every day before we leave for work.
When you are talking to me, I will put my phone down and give you my full attention.
I will communicate when I’m angry or hurting instead of shutting down or shutting you out.
I will not argue with you in front of our kids.
I will initiate sex with you at least once a week.
When I need or want help with a task, I will ask for help out loud (and specifically) instead of expecting you to pick up on my cues and read my mind.
I will not watch pornography, because our sex life is sacred and even visual images of others is a violation of what we have.
Even though I’ve taken the role of bill-paying, I will discuss our budget and financial status with you every week (on this scheduled day & time).
I will not put myself in a high-risk situation, because our marriage is a treasure that must be protected and cherished. (Discuss what you each believe to be “high risk” situations.)
I will not make big plans or decisions that affect our household without at least a phone call or discussion with you.
I will give you two compliments or affirmations per day, because I know that is important to you.
I will reach out and touch you a minimum of three times per day, no matter what mood I’m in.
I will make a point to participate in things that are important to you, even if they are of no interest to me.
If I’m going to be late, I will call you.
I will ask you on a date every single week.
If I’ve had a bad day at work, I will stop at the front door and say a prayer before I come inside, asking God to restore my positive attitude so my family doesn’t suffer the consequences.
Say Your New Vows Out Loud
After you’ve discussed your problem areas and settled on some specific strategies for improvement, schedule some alone time with your spouse and say these new promises out loud. Take each other by the hand and sincerely declare your commitment to changing these things. Take an additional step and write them down somewhere, so that you can revisit them regularly and make sure they remain in the front of your mind! Even better, consider posting them somewhere that you’ll see them every day, like the dash of your car or on your bathroom mirror. (Those folks who created the wall art that says “Always kiss me goodnight” were on to something!)
Consider Professional Help
If you set out on this journey with good intentions, but suddenly the discussion about problem areas turns into an all-out brawl about why you even got married in the first place or “If you think I’m so critical, then I’ll just stop talking to you altogether!”, then it’s possible you could benefit from a mediator of sorts. Often times in relationships, our personal insecurities, emotional “baggage” or past trauma make it difficult for us to accept constructive feedback because it invokes shame or triggers subconscious issues we didn’t even know where there. We are a product of our experiences. Our childhood relationships, no matter how healthy, can shape the way we interact with our spouse. Past, unhealthy romantic relationships can play a role in our interpersonal functioning as well. The same goes for long-term patterns of unhealthy behavior in your current relationship that have gone unchecked. If any of these things are interrupting your ability to productively renew your relationship, then don’t hesitate to call a professional marriage counselor. A third party navigator with expertise in human behavior and relationships can be a game-changer! If you’re not yet married, but plan to be soon, call a marriage counselor for pre-marital counseling. This is an amazing way to set specific rules and expectations before you even get started!
Treat Your Marriage Like a Treasure
Finally, remember that your marriage is sacred. It is important. It deserves protection. Matthew 19:6 says, “They are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate”. Specific rules and procedures should be in place to prevent the loss or destruction of this treasure of yours. You place your valuables in a safe and your money in a bank. How will you protect your most sacred union? Write the procedures for that today!