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What Wakes Me Up

As kids my three siblings and I would wake at the crack of dawn Christmas morning, breathless with excitement to open the presents piled deep around our sparkling tree. We’d drag Mom and Dad out of bed and into bleary-eyed consciousness, watching pensively as Dad set up his movie camera and lights. Finally, Dad’s “Okay” sent us stampeding down the stairs to rip the bright wrappings off the toys, clothes, and games that had danced like sugarplums in our heads for the past two months.

How strange would it have been if we’d shrugged off the whole celebration, poured bowls of cereal and watched cartoons like any other holiday? What if we never opened our presents?

But that’s what we do as human beings. We fail to “open our presents” in the sense that we don’t realize our full potential. In particular, we don’t use our freedom of choice to its full capacity. We allow ourselves the strange comfort of mediocrity when we could have something better. In their book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Greg Watson and Carol Dweck affirm that willpower is limited—but only by belief. They say that when we believe willpower to be self-renewing, it is. Quoting, “When people believe in willpower they don’t need sugar.” Watson and Dweck point out that most of us never tap the potential of free will. Some of us do, and we end up millionaires, presidents, CEOs, and household names.

But that’s only part of what wakes me up in the morning. The exhilaration of freedom fizzles out in the face of mere earthly success. Becoming great or wealthy or renowned for my own sake pales in comparison to becoming a force for good in the world for the sake of a better world. Along with these masterful, magnificent free wills God gave us pursuits worthy of their highest exercise. Those pursuits are heavenly as opposed to earthly, altruistic as opposed to selfish, and lasting as opposed to temporary. What wakes me up in the morning is knowing that today I can choose a life that savors of a better world. I can make a difference.

What wakes me up in the morning is understanding my potential in the light of how it can actually make a difference for time and for eternity.  What wakes me up in the morning also makes me open those “presents” and use them with gay abandon. What wakes me up in the morning is the same thing that woke the child in me up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning. Presents are waiting for me. I think I’ll open them.

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About Jennifer Jill Schwirzer

Jennifer Jill Schwirzer

writes from Orlando, Florida.

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