Monday, October 20, 2008

Quiet Times and Motherhood - Part 1

I became a Christian when I was in college and quickly became aware of this phenomenon called a "quiet time."
I was taught that I needed to spend time every day reading my Bible and praying. Although no one explicitly stated it, I had the distinct impression that God's love for me was directly tied to the frequency and quality of my quiet times.
Over the course of the next five and a half years, I rarely missed one. OK, during exam week I might have missed a devotion or two, but I'm sure I felt bad about it!
And if I felt bad about missing one or two during exam week, you can only imagine my angst after I had my first baby. You can imagine it, right? I mean, I'm guessing you might even know exactly how I felt?
With a new baby, nearly sleepless nights, and rarely a quiet moment during the day, I was not sure if I would ever be able to have a quiet time again. I was overwhelmed with feelings of guilt. In addition to often feeling inadequate as a mother, I was feeling like a second-class Christian. I felt like God probably didn't love me as much because I wasn't having quiet times. I felt like I was letting Him down.

I was not in a good place.

Then an older woman who had "been there," told me it was OK that I wasn't able to have a quiet time every day. She told me God understood, and I shouldn't feel bad about it.
If I wasn't a Type-A freak, her words probably would have been just the grace I needed. But I had a tendency to operate on an all-or-nothing basis. Since I couldn't maintain the rigorous quiet time regimen to which I had become accustomed, I essentially threw the whole thing out the window.
If God "understood," if He wasn't upset with me for being a busy mom, if it was OK that I couldn't manage to have quiet times every day, I figured I had permission to put quiet times on hold until my times were quiet again. Of course, this wasn't a conscious decision - I can only understand it now because of hind-sight. The point is, I had an incomplete understanding of quiet times and because of that confusion I missed out on spiritual growth and fellowship with God over the next several years.

Because He is patient, because His grace knows no bounds, because He loves me more than I deserve, God waited for me during those years.
I didn't walk away from God. I never stopped believing in Him. There was no crisis of faith for me. But I wasn't engaging with Him in fellowship like I could have been.
Yet, He waited.
And I'm sure He was speaking. I'm sure He was calling me. Though I wasn't listening, I am sure God was telling me that I could have delightful fellowship with Him in the midst of motherhood. Oh, how I wish I would have been listening. How I wish I wouldn't have missed those years with Him.

How thankful I am that God never gave up on me!

When I finally started paying attention, God opened my eyes to some truths about quiet times. He showed me ways that I can be near to Him - even when my times aren't quiet. And I discovered that I can, indeed, have delightful fellowship with God in the midst of motherhood.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2!

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My ADHD Me said...

It seems you are always talking to me.
Chatty kelly and I had this conversation a few months ago. She helped me realize it didn't matter where or when or even if it was just a few moments. Just Talk to HIM!
My problem (ok, one of my problems) was/is that although I have always been a "Christian", I never learned to talk to god except through recited prayers. So I had no practice before kids.
I've finally learned that I can throw in a few quick words to God here and there, but that I also MUST schedule prayer, Bible, God time or I let it pass.

luvmy4sons said...

Yes motherhood also taught me I didn't have to have a "a quiet time". That is a joke with four toddlers. But I also learned He is always with me and little constant moments of being aware of His presence and lifting up small prayers all ministers to the spirit as well. Motherhood in itself is great fertile soil for drawing near to God.

Jean said...

I feel the same way. It does feel like you put in writing what so many of us are feeling and I thank you for that.

Jessica said...

Wow, seems like a lot of people are feeling this. Agent Rachelle Gardner posted about this today. Very good.
Quiet time is great but it's also good to remember that God is not limited by time. He is with us all day long, in everything we do and say. Or He might not be, LOL, depending on us.
Anyways, I'm looking forward to seeing your next post.

Amanda said...

Amazing thoughts Karen. I am in th midst of needing them so desperately right now! I love how you are so brutally honest with us and God about everything. I needed to hear it!

Many blessings-

Sweet Mummy said...

This is a lesson I had a hard time learning, too. Gosh - I think we need to do more to teach our daughters (and other young women) about this BEFORE they hit the wall with guilt and frustration. I know... it might not sink in, but I sure wasn't ever told about what quiet times MIGHT be able to look like after kiddos hit the scene. Looking forward to tomorrow!

Chatty Kelly said...

Right on, girlfriend. It is so easy to get wrapped up in "what's right" that we miss the grace. Truthfully there are SO MANY areas I fall short in, that if I though God didn't have grace I'd have to give up. But thankfully he always, every single time, meets me right where I am. I love that guy. :D

Edie said...

"Although no one explicitly stated it, I had the distinct impression that God's love for me was directly tied to the frequency and quality of my quiet times."
I have felt this belief implanted in me to the point of guilt before. I am so thankful that He counsels us with His wisdom as He covers us with His Grace.

I'm playing catch up so I'll be right there to read Part 2. I can harldy wait! :)

Melissa said...

I've struggled with this issue for a long time. For years (in high school, and college, before I got married) I read my Bible before I went to sleep at night. After I got married, I felt a little "odd" doing that, not to mention that it kept my husband awake. So, it was pushed to the side for way too long.

It's only been in the last year or so (since my daughter has been in school and I have to get up earlier) that I've made it more of a priority. I still miss sometimes, but it's more a part of my daily routine to get up with a cup of coffee and the Word each morning.