how we “get” to do things

As I have written about a few times on this blog, I really hate mornings. I’m not quite sure where the aversion began – whether natural or a knee-jerk subconscious reaction to my own father being a 5 AM riser or just being lazy, but that is where I am.

What really stinks in the mornings is my attitude. To be honest, when our alarm goes off each morning (or more realistically, our son waking up two hours too early ready to play) the day hits me pretty hard. I think about all of the things I have to do, or the things I know I will likely fail to do though I know I should.

So taking that approach to the beginning of the day takes a while to overcome. Usually it takes a few cups of coffee and an hour of chasing my son to clear out the cobwebs so I can start my day.

While this sounds a little depressing for you morning folks, it’s the way of life for the rest of us.


My wife and her entire family seem to be born for the morning. It seems like the earlier they get up, the better off they are. More specifically, my mother-in-law and father-in-law have a really interesting way of keeping their attitudes in check as they go about their business, not only in the morning but in the evening.

And, I don’t know if they consciously do this or if it is just part of they way they are, but they speak in a way that makes it easy to get up in the morning – even if they are facing a tough day.

There is a simple shift in language they tend to employ:

Substitute “get to” for “have to”.

I hear them do this all of the time. At first it seemed pretty cute, but not very realistic. But, I have found in the over six years that I have known them the revolutionary effect this has on not only their lives but the lives of others.

For my in-laws, the day-to-day rigor of life isn’t really made of tasks and drudgery. It is full of opportunities and blessings. You see, when you substitute “have to” with “get to”, it changes the way you think.

You see, when I engage in a task I dislike (i.e. making the bed or folding laundry), what I am really doing is being thankful that I have a bed to make or clothes to fold. Not everyone has that. Or when I vacuum the carpets or wash the dishes, I proclaim my thankfulness that I have a house to live in and food to put on those plates.

And, when I get up in the morning – I get to do that. I get to wake up and be with my family for another day.

You see when you get to do things, even things you hate – you are blessed. When you have to do things, even things you really like – you might be missing how you are blessed.

As we talk through what the true nature of blessing is this week, it tends to point back to the small immeasurable things of life. Blessings are found where God is found – in the simple, quiet, and humble places yearning to be discovered.

Now it is time for your feedback: how would this simple shift in language change things for you?

2 thoughts on “how we “get” to do things

  1. Hey man, Ryan Steyn here. My wife is a big fan of your blog and has been reading it recently, and she insisted that I take a look at it too. I agree with what you said in this post. I think nomenclature is the expression of an inner paradigm, or, to put it more poetically, “Out of the mouth the heart speaks.” (I swear, I’ve heard that somewhere before…)

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