When your first child is born, everything changes. Your priorities. Your schedule. Your budget. Your home. Everything. Suddenly all bets are off.
I think we all feel pulled in two different directions at this point. First of all, mothering is a new adventure! It's exciting, everything is new, and we love it. We begin to understand God as our Father in a whole new way - a very personal way. But the flip side is that we have to find our footing in life all over again. We feel discouraged when we don't make that transition seamlessly and everything takes time and effort to settle into place (and more time, and more, and more with each child that comes along and tweaks the systems a little differently).
For a while I felt this tension in my spiritual life. If it was a challenge to find quiet time with Jesus as a single person, it was impossible with a new baby. If I had to rearrange my schedule to be involved in ministries, now I also had to arrange care for my children. And forget about attending a conference or retreat! While I felt I was really stepping into what God was calling me to do with my life (raising children to follow him), I felt like I had to abandon so much of my relationship with God to my relationships with my children.
And I know it's not just me. I hear this tension coming through constantly from other young mommies - and even some not-so-young ones. It's a normal learning curve. But I want to share with you today what God has been revealing to me about this.
God is a very present help and guide in your mothering.
Let me say that another way: Your spiritual growth and your mothering are not mutually exclusive, nor did God intend for them to be. God did not ordain before the beginning of time for you to do good works that will destroy your connection with him. There's a re-learning curve, but our spiritual lives are not demolished when we become parents. So what does that look like?
God is speaking to you. He speaks when you are alone and still and quiet, but he speaks just as clearly when your two-year-old spills a measuring cup of wine all over your feet, the floors, and up the walls thirty minutes before dinner company arrives because he "wanted to help you cook" (you know, hypothetically...). Sure, it takes more practice to hear his still, small voice in that moment. But the things he wants to show and teach you in that moment are not any less important or profound because you are not closeted away with your Bible. When you choose to seek God at all times, you will be amazed at what he is speaking to you and showing you in the midst of your mothering.
God honors your mothering. My husband and I agreed very early on that we wanted our children to see us serving, worshiping, and helping others from a very young age. That means that they often come to events, conferences, and church events with us. This was a new practice for us because suddenly we had to bring toys and activities to keep them busy and happy, sometimes we have to step out because they are tired or hungry, and we always have one eye (or hand, or both) on a child. It means that I can't fast with everyone else because I am pregnant or nursing, I can't block out everything going on around me during worship because I need to make sure my son isn't running out the door behind me, and one or both of them is bound to say or do something disruptive while someone else is talking or praying - it's just going to happen. And that can be a hard reality for us to adjust to, but the truth is that our experience is not any less valid than everyone else's because of it. We are reflecting on God while explaining to our kids why we are doing what we're doing. We're getting back to the heart of worship by holding our littles and teaching them what it looks like to honor God.
God honors the faith of little children. Girl, play those Bible memory song cd's, read that children's Bible story book, act out the story of the Good Samaritan or David dancing before the Ark of the Covenant. If you seek God in those things rather than just going through the motions because you "should do them for your kids," you will find God in those things. God reveals himself to little children just as well as to us and we can experience God in a whole new way by seeing things through their eyes. Think about it - God knew your child would wake up two hours earlier than normal the morning you finally get up in time to have a quiet time, and he's not angry with you for it. He still wants to meet with you. Put worship music or an audio Bible on in the background, show your kids how the same stories in their picture Bibles are also written in your Bibles. Those experiences are not wasted. They are not in vain! Maybe God even meant to meet you that way today, instead of what you expected.
Let me just say that getting away or having quiet time or going on a retreat are not bad things. I'm not advocating that you should never do them again. It's good to refresh and try something new. But let's face it - those times are few and far between and just get fewer and farther with children. Our culture (even our Christian culture) will tell you that that's a bad thing and that you're missing out on something because of it, but that's just not true. Don't lose heart, and don't be discouraged.
You are doing good work. And God is pursuing you right where you are, if you will meet him. Embrace it. Embrace HIM. Embrace the process - because that's ok. It's good!
Your parenting and your spiritual life are NOT mutually exclusive. Nor were they ever meant to be.