Henri Nouwen, Francis of Assisi, Augustine, John of the Cross, and Theresa of Avila are some of my spiritual heroes, but since becoming a mother, I find myself thinking Yeah, must be nice to have so much time to spend time with God. Though moms do keep night vigils and do manual labor, our commonalities end around there.
As a married woman with two children, I have been on the search for words on rest from someone who did not have 12 hours a day to saturate themselves in prayer and Bible study because sometimes all I have is 10…minutes, that is.
Though I know you don’t need convincing that rest is something you want, I do hope to convince you that it is something you need.
Jesus knew the value of rest, often escaping for time with the Lord and encouraging His disciples to do the same. The Old Testament is also full of promises for the weary. But for some reason, our culture attaches guilt and shame with rest. We apologize for reading a book, taking a nap or needing time alone.
But the type of rest Jesus describes is the rest that infuses all of life with greater strength and meaning. When we pray, we become centered on the eternal. When we read the Bible, we are reading a book that is living and applicable right now to whatever we are experiencing. When we sit still and listen, we are reminded that we are not alone. This kind of soul rest fuels all the other work that we do in a day.
Madeleine L’Engle said, “When I am constantly running there is no time for being. When there is no time for being there is no time for listening” (Walking on Water, pg. 13). And we need to be hearing from God during this season of life where we are responsible for caring for the soul of another human being.
Rest is a need, not a want.
But how can we find the soul rest we really need when we have so little time (and energy)?
Recently, an older and wiser mother challenged me to “lower my standards when it comes to spirituality.” She gently pointed out that perfectionism is doing nothing for my walk with Christ. Though I balked at the accusation, I also realized that she was right.
I am a spiritual perfectionist.
I got married at 31 after many years of singleness where I was used to spending at least an hour a day journaling, reading the Bible and praying. Marriage and The Narrowing made that old expectation an impossibility and so I entered motherhood thinking that if I couldn’t have an hour long quiet time or at least 30 minutes, I wouldn’t even sit down to try because it wasn’t “spiritual enough.”
So it is not surprising that it is year three of motherhood and I feel spiritually dehydrated.
Here are a few adjustments I’m realizing I need to make to find the nourishment my soul needs in a season of life that is so demanding.
First of all, we must accept that we are not monks. As moms, we must change our expectations for the quality and quantity of our time spent with God and let go of perfectionism when it comes to spirituality (and, let’s be honest, everything else!).
In this post, Margaret Feinberg points out that “Jesus extends the invitation to come away. In Mark 6:31, Jesus instructs His followers to “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest for a while.” The word oligos in the Greek that’s translated “a while” actually means “little, small, few”. I love this detail! Because it means God can do great things with only a sliver of time.”
We need to learn to do the most with the little slivers of time that we have in a day, and not just wait until we have a large enough chunk, because that time will most likely never come.
We need to retrain our minds to do spiritual sprints instead of spiritual marathons.
The next few days, I’ll be sharing some creative ideas my friends and I came up with for doing the most with what you’ve got in terms of time and energy level.
But along with shifting my expectations of how and when I will pursue God, I also need to plan ahead.
For example, I don’t usually feel inspired to cook a meal at 5 pm if I have given it no forethought, but I have found that if I plan to cook something, buy the vegetables and pull the meat out ahead of time to defrost, the meal is much more likely to get cooked. A plan sets things in motion.
We always plan for what is important to us, so why should spirituality be any different? We love the mountain top moments with arms raised, eyes streaming with tears of joy and a burning heart, but if we are honest, we know that we live in the plains and not on the mountain tops, so we should make our travel plans with our scenery in mind.
How can I seek God during the slivers of “alone” time in my day, during: kid’s naps, car rides, showering, putting on make-up, cooking, brushing my teeth or waiting on a toddler to put on his shoes?
There are 1440 minutes in a day. 1440. Could I spare 5, 10, or 15 minutes of those minutes a day to seek soul rest and a deeper relationship with Jesus?
I need to have plans and contingency plans for seeking God throughout my day.
Finally, the same wise older mama (as well as a few other friends), have reminded me to give myself grace in this chapter of my life. God loves us and sees all our attempts at holiness and accepts them just as a loving father accepts the precious “gifts” a toddler might hand to him.
I am also realizing that my years studying the Bible as a single woman created a reservoir that I am now benefiting from as a married woman with limited time. If you are single, feed the reservoir. You will certainly need it one day–if not for marriage, during other hectic times of your life where you do not have the time or energy to pursue the Lord.
In the next few days, we’ll be discussing practical ways to maximize the time you do have in order to find the soul rest you are longing for. I get you, weary mama. I’m writing this just as much for myself as for you. Sign up for emails if you want to be sure not to miss the next few days. Check out yesterday’s post if you missed it and come back tomorrow to find permission for self care.
How have your expectations had to shift as you have become a mother?
Do you struggle with being a perfectionist? In what ways?
How can you plan ahead to spend time in prayer and the Word?
In what areas do you need to give yourself grace?
Check out all the other posts in this series:
Introduction to the Series
Day 1: Three Secrets of Soul Rest
Day 2: Moms Are Not Monks
Day 3: Permission for Self Care
Day 4: Ordinary Moments
Day 5: Creative Spirituality for Busy Times
Day 6: Planning a Personal Retreat
Day 7: Sabbath Rhythms
Ashley Hale’s Write 31 Days Series: Letters to Weary Women
A great blog series: 31 Hats Mom Wears
Linking up with Mommy Moments