Somewhere in the middle of morning sickness, piles of dishes, and the sound of the tantrums, I started to resent the phrase “quiet time.” For me, a quiet time was a spiritual form of “me” time—a time to feed my soul in solitude. But as we all know, motherhood yanks hardest at two important things: personal space and personal time. And it starts as close as possible—right within your own body. Nausea during pregnancies can mean countless occasions when your plans are offset by a day near the toilet. Then the baby arrives and there’s sleep deprivation, relentless feedings, and all the other facets of your newborn’s dependence on you. And so it goes on as children grow and more are added. Being a mother means someone inevitably has a diaper blow out just as you walk out the door. It means you had something to do today, but a child woke up with fever, and now your day is a series of laundry loads and TLC. Mixed in with all the sweetness, the cuddles, and the bursts of euphoria are high doses of exhaustion, sensory overload, and too many moments where we confront the last straw.
So where does that leave a “quiet time”?
Get up early! Right? But what if my so-called “morning” sickness ends up happening all night long? Do I still wake up with the sun? And what about the months when I’m nursing a baby several times through the night? How do I wake up before the baby?
Okay, well just find a time that works, and make sure you’re alone! Right? I used to say to myself, “If my quiet time doesn’t involve a certain amount of solitude, and if it doesn’t last for a certain length of time, then it isn’t good enough. It doesn’t really count.” And that’s what I believed for awhile. So I’d sit down with my Bible at what was supposed to be a “good time” and guess what? A child interrupted me. Someone starting crying. Someone needed help at the potty. Someone fell out of the kitchen chair. And suddenly there I was, reading my Bible while scolding my children for disturbing this moment for me. Why won’t they leave me alone?! I’m trying to be godly over here!!
I was so focused on being faithful to a task that I forgot to be faithful to a Person. After all, a Pharisee can be faithful to a task. And I hated the idea of my children remembering me with a Bible I held in my hands, but ignored in my heart. So I had to re-shift my focus—I had to focus on being with God. This was a revolutionary shift for me. It shifted me away from perfectionism and legalism and drew me towards a Person. And so I began to ask myself a simple question over and over: Am I the sort of person who clings to God? Am I in fellowship with Him today? Well, what does that mean? It means I seek Him in a quiet place. It means I pant for His Word! But it also means I don’t hang my head in guilt on the days when a quiet place is hard to come by. The season I’m in is God’s gift to me—my hands are full because of what He has put in them.
I stopped looking at quiet times as a spiritual version of “me” time. Fellowship with God is not limited to sitting down at the perfect time, sipping coffee under a warm blanket, and basking in the comfort of Psalm 139. Look at how many times the Bible says Jesus left the crowds to be alone. . .and they followed Him! And He ministered to them.
I stopped looking at quiet times as another chore, or something else on a check-list. The God we cling to is God our Father, not God our taskmaster. And the Bible is not static—it’s alive and active, breathed out by God. He will feed us, even when life is loud and messy. He will hear our prayers even as they are offered over a sink full of dishes. He will chisel away at us while He cradles us in promises. Jesus paid a torturous price so we could have intimacy with the Father on the same level that He has it. As believers, we have the kind of access to God that invites us to come in our pajamas, in our Sunday best, or right in the middle of all the Cheerios on the floor.
Be with God wherever you are, right in the middle of your real life—even if tiny hands are reaching for your Bible and tugging on the edges while you read. Experience Him as a daughter, not as an employee. Jesus isn’t one more thing you have to accomplish today. He’s already on every page of your story.
“I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.” Psalm 119:11