We were sitting around a living room, drinking coffee and nibbling on fresh baked goods. A few kids were in the basement, while mine ran up and down the stairs hoping for just one more bite of blueberry loaf. We were women, together to pray, to learn, and to fellowship. On the video screen was a well known evangelical Christian minister, giving tips on how to study the bible.
“Wake up every morning to spend time with God. Make it a habit. Do it every day until it becomes normal. Never miss a day. Do it for the rest of your life.”*
I sighed. There was no way, NO WAY I can wake up before the rest of my family these days. Normally my husband is prying me out of bed five minutes before he rushes out the door for work. He’s already fed the toddler and I am trying to nab a few more minutes of rest while my newborn lies beside me, suckling.
This is the life of a newborn Mama. Before having Gavin and once Cameron was sleeping through the night, I was up early most mornings in prayer or running (sometimes both). I could wake up an hour before the rest of my household when I was going to bed early and sleeping through the night. But, no matter how good my intentions are, I simply cannot get out of bed before my children when I’ve only had a few hours of sleep the night before. Doing so might result in a pious morning, but would leave me unfit to parent these incredible boys for the rest of the day.
But I take this pastor’s point. Even if waking up early isn’t manageable, it is important to carve out time each day to spend in prayer and scripture. And doing it at the same time every day will create a habit that is harder to break.
It is a lovely thought.
One that is clearly conceived by a man.
I don’t say that maliciously. I just mean that the goal of setting aside one distinct time each day is much more conducive to a typical man’s day than a typical woman’s, especially if that woman is a mother.
Many women, but especially wives and mothers, build their lives around other people. They prioritize the needs of their family above their own. Even our bodies are directly affected by other people as we grow children through pregnancy and nurse them through infancy. Our needs change as we go through each phase of life. Sometimes we need more sleep, sometimes less. Sometimes we can manage exercise, sometimes our bodies are working hard enough as it is. Sometimes our hours in the day are completely engulfed by needy children and needy spouses. Sometimes kids sleep. Sometimes they don’t.
Sometimes finding a minute in the madness isn’t even possible.
This is womanhood. This is motherhood.
This is where I have been this past week. My days have been filled with To-Dos and Should-Have-Dones. My children have gotten on my last nerve and have ridden it all the way past the end of my patience and kept going. I have been staying up long past midnight just to get a few things done and my exhaustion levels are at an all time high.
And my Bible, which had been becoming so alive to me lately, is now collecting dust.
“Wake up every morning to spend time with God. Make it a habit. Do it every day until it becomes normal. Never miss a day. Do it for the rest of your life.”
Those words from that well known evangelical minister have been haunting me.
But they shouldn’t. Because they’re not Godly.
This is how I’ve been created. I have been given the gift of motherhood and I have embraced it to the best of my human ability (which is so, so flawed). Right now, God is calling me to be a mother; to be a servant to my family by placing my children and my husband (ouch, conviction!) ahead of myself. And sometimes that means that at the end of my day, the time I selfishly wanted for myself, even if that time was meant to be focussed all on God, hasn’t happened. I can add it to the list of stuff to feel guilty about, or I can realize that I am doing what God has called me to do, and sometimes that just requires all of me, every one of my minutes.
As I was feeling guilty and discouraged because my time with God this week has been lacking, I realized that this guilt was misdirected. I should instead be taking those few moments every day when everything is quiet and peaceful, to turn to Him. When I’m nursing, I can put down my iPhone and lift up my heart. When I’m snuggling the toddler, I can stop trying to memorize every single line of Cars 2 and instead bring to mind verses that are stored in my heart.
I’m trying to hold onto my time, and I am doing a lousy job at it. Mothering a toddler and a newborn is pretty much impossible and it takes all I have to just finish off the day feeling proud of how I handled myself (it rarely happens). But this mothering thing, what I try so hard to only fail at, is what God has called me to do. So I don’t have to do it all alone. I don’t have to put all I have into it only to feel wasted at the end of my day.
I can just give it to God. My time. My mothering. My day. My children. I can make that my worship. And I can trust that He will know how to best manage what I am currently managing so poorly. And at the end of my day, if I have done all that and still haven’t found the time to sit down for an hour with him, I don’t have to feel the guilt. Because every moment of my day has happened by being dependant on Him.
*Not a true quote.
Looking for an iPhone/iPad background for this week’s Weekly Truth? Look no further!
Edited to add: Tonight, as I snuck away from the house to spend some alone time in a less distracting, hopefully quieter environment, my daily bible reading led me to 1 Chronicles 28:20. It can be totally read as if God came right to this blog and left a comment.
Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, YOUR God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work [that he called you to do] is finished correctly.