Making life work throughout the years seems to me like a series of adjustments and a continual process of fine tuning. A new season in life often requires a new way of being. We can try to bring our old habits and routines into our new context and then feel frustrated and crippled with guilt when we can no longer make things work and everything feels hard.
Before children came along I had my routines, I was in control of them and responsible for only myself, and life on the whole ran smoothly.
Children changed everything! They are a wonderful gift and I love them dearly but there’s no denying that the change in my life was dramatic. I became a mother and suddenly my time was no longer my own.
Looking back, when the children were young was a spiritually dry time for me. Sermons were regularly missed due to creche time. Quiet times with God were few and far between, and even when I found some time my thinking often felt foggy due to tiredness and I couldn’t concentrate well. I spent too long trying to make my old habits work. I was frustrated with myself and felt like I was letting God down because I wasn’t doing life with him properly.
I was slow to learn that this new season required a new way of being.
And then one day I came across this verse:
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11
“He gently leads those that have young” – I read these words and felt my shoulders relax and a weight lifting off me. They gave me the freedom to see things from a new perspective. God was there in his kind and loving way, yet I was caught up in striving to be something I couldn’t be and was totally missing the point of what being with God was about. I began to learn to embrace what it looked like to be with God in a different way, knowing that He understands me and wants to gently lead me.
I chose to value certain things more, recognising that God was with me and I was with him. I also put some things into my life so that I could enjoy being with God more in the small every day details. Some ideas I had were:
– Listening to podcasts – a mix of sermons and christians talking with different guests
– Bible verses strategically placed around the house
– Worship music playing, even if it had to be kid’s worship!
– Getting an hour to myself and going to a coffee shop to journal
– Keeping a thankful journal – bullet points of small details in a day that I could thank God for
– When I was walking with the buggy talking to God and listening to Him
– Using the love that was daily growing for my children as a picture of God’s love for me – how vast therefore his love is for me
– Spending time with friends and their children who were at a similar life stage and who love Jesus. Allowing God to speak through them and into my life and my struggles. Praying while the children climbed over us.
– At bedtime when I was reading a bible story to the children I would ask God to speak to me too (the beauty and simplicity of the Jesus Storybook Bible frequently brings me to tears!!)
– Choosing not to compare my journey with others – our minds can fool us into seeing a perfect life that isn’t there
– Reading books which help me pray for my children – a favourite being Praying Circles around Your Children by Mark Patterson is one I frequently come back to.
– Having a book handy that I can use in a spare 5 minutes to read God’s word and hear some reflections. I love Tim Keller’s devotional books in Psalms and Proverbs – they include the bible verses and take about 3 minutes to read!
Each week continues to look different and these things don’t all happen at once. The seasons with children change as quickly as they arrived and so I’m still learning what it looks like to be flexible and give myself grace to catch up and adapt with family life.
I am trying to value the small moments and appreciate how God is with me and I am with Him, knowing that God is gently leading me, and what he really wants is my heart.