A Woman Seeking to Know Her God in the Trenches of Motherhood
The first time I was able to have an actual sit down conversation with Michelle, we found ourselves on the floor surrounded by babies, and I found myself at the center of an intentional conversation. Somehow through the midst of crying and crawling, Michelle was got straight to asking questions about my life, how I met my husband, how his work schedule affected our marriage. And that first conversation I had with her was an accurate representation of what daily life with Michelle is like. She shows up, she checks in, she remembers. She remembers to send you pictures of her kids holding your eggs and she'll remember to ask your in-laws how their horse is doing. She's a wife and a Mom to 3 young, precious daughters and yet I always leave Michelle's presence feeling known, seen and ultimately being shown so sweetly the love of Christ.
This season of life can look so different for many people, and can also change rapidly in a matter of minutes. Sometimes it’s a chaotic mess, and other time it’s pure bliss, but mostly for me, it feels like I’m in the trenches of a great battle. A battle for my kids’ hearts. It’s constant molding and shaping of little lives that can be so utterly exhausting that I sometimes forget whether I’ve washed my hair in a week (and if we’re being honest, I probably haven’t washed my hair in a week). Did I remember to put on deodorant? Do I even own deodorant anymore? Where are the keys, and FOR THE LOVE, what does the baby have in her mouth now?
Don’t get me wrong, motherhood is a beautiful blessing, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, but there are times when it totally feels like I’m in survival mode. We make it from one task to another most days, just surviving! People are fed and well-cared for, but somedays, that’s all I’ve got to offer. I can’t look back on the day and think, “that was AWESOME! We rocked it today in our lessons, chores, character building, etc.” Somedays we don’t get items checked off our to-do-list, and we watch way too much tv. Somedays it’s popcorn for dinner, and we all go to bed without brushing our teeth. Somedays I even forget to read my kids their devotional even though that’s an essential part of our daily routine. Somedays, I just plain fail as a mom, but Lord knows I’m trying.
My time with the Lord definitely looks different than it did before I had kids. I’ve currently found myself in a season where my “quiet time” isn’t so quiet, and my “time” isn’t so much mine anymore. I’ve realized that it’s harder and harder to get that one-on-one time with the Lord that I desperately need. I know He’s still there and it’s me who has pulled away because of the busyness of what being a mom entails. I also know that it’s no excuse for letting my quiet time slip away. I know I need to get up earlier before the kids are awake for the day, but my brain doesn’t quite listen to my heart when it’s in a state of sleep deprivation. My body is exhausted (on all fronts) from raising three tiny people, and I’ve put time with the Lord on hold; something I never thought I’d do so easily.
However, I am so thankful that the Lord offers me grace during the times when my walk with Him feels weary. A weary walk that is directly correlated to how little time I’m spending with Him. I’m thankful that He loves me in spite of that, and waits patiently for me to come back home to Him. But does He get tired of waiting? I know I would. I’m not sure when He got pushed to the backseat of my life, but my hope is that slowly, I will find a way to let Him ride shotgun. And hopefully someday soon, I’ll even give Him control of the steering wheel again. That’s my prayer at least. I didn’t mean for my quiet time with Him to slip. I didn’t intentionally put Him in second place, behind kids, and all that encompasses motherhood. I know it’s the season of life I’m in, and I make no excuses for where I’m at in my walk with the Lord. I know I love Him with my whole heart, and I yearn for the day that I am completely consumed with His word again. However, I’m also trying not to wish these precious days with my children away just so I can get to that point in my life. It’s a delicate balance. I know these messy days of motherhood won’t ever return, so I’m doing my best to appreciate them, but I do pray that God doesn’t give up on me while He waits for my sleep-deprived brain to get it right!
Although I’m not currently digging into the word as intentionally as need to be, I feel like my prayer life has strengthened, and for that I’m so thankful. This definitely helps during this seasons when I feel slightly distant from the Lord due to my lack of quiet time. I spend most of my day asking God to speak life into me, to help me be patient with my kids, and to forgive me when I mess up. I ask for protection as we go about our daily routines, and to give me an extra boost of strength because Starbucks did NOT make my coffee strong enough to handle all the poo and spilled milk. Can we just take a minute to talk about spilled milk? Why can’t it ever spill into a neat little pile that’s easily cleaned up like you see in those Bounty commercials on tv? I swear, when a cup hits the ground, it’s like a milk volcano just erupted in my kitchen. Nothing is unscathed!
With all that being said, there are a few things I’ve noticed that help my devotional/quiet time be more successful. First, my phone cannot be a part of the equation. It’s so easy to get distracted with an incoming call, or to remember a text I needed to send to a friend five days earlier. For some reason, I can’t convince myself to wait and focus on what I need to be doing! Rather, I’ll pick up that silly phone and shoot a text to someone, and before I know it, my alone time with the Lord has become Facebook surfing and recipe gathering! It’s unintentional, but it happens nonetheless!
Secondly, if the kids are awake, I have to get them fully occupied by something that doesn’t involve me playing an active role. Maybe that’s a favorite show or an activity that I know will keep them focused and give me some time by myself. However, this is usually never more than 15 minutes at a time because let’s be honest, kids can have the attention span of a squirrel! AND it rarely ever happens unless the baby is napping.
Lastly, I have to fully embrace the fact that other things will get put on the back-burner. Those dishes, mountains of laundry, toys we’re all tripping over... It all has to wait. I must mentally prepare myself to just press pause, and let those things sit while I go feed my spiritual need for the Lord. And if I’m being completely honest, that’s really hard for me. I can get so overwhelmed with the chaos of life, and the state of my house, that I’d rather press pause on nurturing my relationship with God in His word, than let my house be in shambles. For some reason, that feels easier to me. Fix the clutter first; my relationship with the Lord next. It’s completely illogical I know, but somewhere along the line, that’s where my heart settled.
It’s easy to wish for a morning free of distractions, where I could sit and read my Bible without interruptions from kids. And where I could also drink my warm cup of coffee as my heart meditates on His word, but that’s not my reality right now. My reality is full of late nights, early mornings, cold coffee, spilled milk, and a 4-minute devotional I’ve squeezed in between restarting an episode of “Daniel Tiger.” I chose this life and I HAVE to find a way to make it all work even if it’s a struggle, and even if my quiet time isn’t anything like I pictured. Through prayer, I’ve given this struggle over to the Lord, and He’s continually revealing things to me, but it’s a process.
If I had to give advice to another mother struggling with this season, I’d say give yourself grace. Don’t excuse yourself from spending time with the Lord, but if it isn’t exactly like you had pictured it would be, or as lengthy as you had hoped for each day, grace sister. Rely on the Lord, pray for His wisdom, and a heart for God, but also give yourself grace. And always give grace to others struggling as well with their walk. It’s not perfect, and it won’t always come easy, but just keep trying! Keep showing up! Keep asking for grace and mercy, and for strength to push through these days of motherhood in the trenches!
by michelle ancone
This post is part of the Summer of Seasons that Darcee and I are hosting. Our hope is that as others share about seeking God in their particular season of life, we would all be encouraged to know and love and seek after the Lord more in our daily lives.