Motherhood vs. Your Quiet Time

by Lee Stewart

Motherhood vs. Your Quiet Time


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!!

Yikes.

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

Lee Stewart

 

*Please leave your comments below!

40 comments

  1. Heather Mullins says:

    Thank you for this, Lee!
    “Jesus isn’t one more thing you have to accomplish today. He’s already on every page of your story.” It is hard to keep the balance between being a diligent follower of Christ and being a legalist! I needed to read this today.

  2. Betty Arrell says:

    I am nearing 80 years of age, a great grandmother. I wish I had that fifty years ago when our first born came. Motherhood is the hardest job I ever had. Worth it, but hard. Now I try to relieve young mothers in my church so they can have some down time.

    • missionalmotherhood says:

      What a blessing to those young mothers, Betty! And thank you for commenting. I’m sure you could share much wisdom as a seasoned mother (and great-grandmother!). God bless you!

  3. gowri says:

    I totally needed this today . Being a mom to my 6 month old and not finding ” The quiet time” was something i was struggling with. Thank U so much 🙂

  4. Susan Isbell says:

    I stumbled on this when my sister-in-law posted it on her Facebook. It is the most precious blog that I intend to share with my daughter-in-law who is the mother of two under the age of three. I identified with what you said. Even though my children are long out of the nest, my memories of when they little are hey same as these you have written about. I’m sure my daughter-in-law will identify with it too. Thank you for these words of inspiration.

  5. Brenda Blackwell says:

    Thanks Lee … I am “retired” and have teen grandchildren already! So….I had almost forgotten the struggles when they were younger. thanks for offering this great advice to young moms today. I wish I had your wisdom back in those years!

  6. Kerry says:

    YES!!! This is an excellent post, and shares so much wisdom for young mothers! I found myself in many of those scenarios! I once read a book that said to pull your children into your quiet time when they wake earlier than expected…read the scripture WITH them, pray WITH them, rather than being annoyed at their presence.
    As a mother of 7, and hoping to adopt soon, these words of wisdom resonate deeply with me. I do not not have extensive amounts of time to pour over scripture and to pour my heart out to God. I had a friend who apologized for asking me to pray about something because she didn’t to bother with me since I am “so busy in my own life.” No way!!! I assured her that I LOVE praying for others, and although it may not come in lengthy prayers, it comes “in breaths throughout my day.” That, my friend, is the essence of “praying without ceasing.” Praise God, there is no prayer/reading schedule!

  7. Autumn says:

    Thank you so much for this post! This has been something I have struggled with numerous times. I only wish I had read this when years ago when my kids were younger. They are 10 and 8 now, but I can still apply it in many ways on many days. Thank you SO MUCH and I will share this with as many moms as I know!!!!

  8. C J says:

    I don’t have first hand knowledge about morning sickness, but I do know how children demand our time when we least accept it. I spent a long time learning the value of dropping everything when they want something. Many times all they want is us! Now as a grandpa it is getting much easier to drop what I am doing for them. For any one! Our LORD has infinite patience for us slow learners!

  9. Esther says:

    I so needed this. Thank you for sharing. (By the way, there are Cheerios on the dining room floor as I write this.)

  10. Sarah says:

    I truly like, need, and appreciate this. I have struggled, trial and error, to regain my quiet time. I just wonder, can you speak to the craving for inner quietness before Him? The “be still and know” kind of quietness. I feel like I need it for sanity sake. Thank you.

    • Lee says:

      Sarah- I recently listened to a Tim Keller Sermon called “Peace” and it spoke to this very thing. Here is a link to the sermon http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/peace
      I find when my internal world is restless and chaotic, something that really pierces through all that is thankfulness. I have to go back to the most basic truths about God and experience the reality of those truths, and thank Him in response. How great is His love for us! And the more we love Him above all else, the more we are at rest under any circumstance.

  11. Katy says:

    I needed to hear this today! Thank you for being a vessel of the Spirit and sharing this with us! God bless you!!!!

  12. Michelle B says:

    Thank you so much! I am the mother of 5 (8,6,4,2,&3months). I have given up on “quite” time along time ago. I find about the only way I can get a good Bible reading in is to read aloud to my kiddos and explain it to them every couple of verses. This is a great way to find time with God and with your kids.
    I use to feel lots of guilt because I didn’t get up an hour earlier than the kids and spend that time reading the bible (I am not a morning person and besides it never fails some one gets up earlier than expected and needs my attention). Then I stopped fighting against the way God made me and the situation he has put me in my life and found away to work with them. I don’t need to be like others I need to be like who God made me to be.
    It’s summer right now and we have gotten out of the habit. Thanks for the reminder to make mommy hood and my spiritual life work together!

  13. Joy says:

    Thank you! My kids are 10, 8 and 5 and I’ve always struggled with such a weight of guilt over not having/taking the requisite “30-minutes of Bible reading, 15 minutes of prayer” (or whatever a quiet time looks like in each of our minds!). I’ve been a believer for a long time; I’m a missionary, for crying out loud! I should know these things; and I do, but yours was such a sweet and gentle reminder to, again, put them into practice. I’m grateful to my niece for linking to this on FB. Thank you.

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you Lee for your compelling and inspiring words. I would describe myself as faithful; yet not one who walks in faith daily. I don’t follow a religion in a formal sense, but I do believe that there is a greater spirit in the Universe; one that is greater than all of us.

    I had a meeting with a mama-to-be yesterday and her commitment to her faith and her purpose truly moved me. I most appreciated this quote: “He will chisel away at us while He cradles us in promises.” Beautiful. Thank You. This quote reminds me to be mindful, always in the present moment, and above all grateful for the life I live today.

    • Donna Gaines says:

      Those are beautiful words Elizabeth. It appears that you are open and aware that there must be a Grand Designer behind all that makes up our universe. I would really encourage you to read the New Testament, especially the gospels that explain Jesus and His purpose in coming to earth and dying in our place to purchase the way back to God. The Bible says in Eccl. 3:11 that “God has set eternity in our hearts”. Consequently, in our innermost being we know we were created for more than this world. That is why death is so “unnatural”. We were not intended to die – sin brought death (Genesis 3). All of the Old Testament points to Christ – God included so many pictures of what was to come as He interacted with His chosen people, the Jews, the line through which the promised one of Genesis 3:15 would come. An excellent book, The Case for Christ, by Lee Stroebel would probably answer many of your questions as well. Lee was a successful journalist who sought to disprove Christ only to be convinced that He was and is Who the Bible says He is. We were created not just for religion but for a relationship with our Creator. God has made the way – that way is Christ (John 14:6) Thank you for reading the blog and for your thoughtful comments. If we can continue the conversation, we would be happy to.

  15. verita says:

    Thank you so much for bringing this up Lee.. I’ve been struggling also finding my “quite time” since my baby growing toddler.. your post inspires and opens my mind that we dont need to look after Jesus, instead we need to walk with Him cause God is always there for us..
    Love what you wrote: 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.

    Keep blessing Lee! (^_^)

  16. Taiwo Ajisegiri says:

    God bless you for this wonderful post.I struggle with putting Jesus on my to-do list,another task to be accomplished,so many times I couldn’t get pass the guilty feeling of not having my quiet time.My daughter is a 2yrs 7months and I work full time….it’s not been easy striking a balance.
    I want to experience God has as a daughter and not an employee.
    I also appreciate what you said about being with God wherever you are…..This days I pray more when cooking the family meals and once in a while driving have experienced a wonderful time of worship and lifting.
    I will surely share this with my sister
    GOD BLESS YOU.

  17. Jennifer says:

    Perfect timing, perfect God. I desperately needed this message today. I am beyond thankful for the gift of my almost 18 month old twins, but I am often plagued by guilt for not having “quiet time.” I also found myself scolding them one day while reading my Bible and thought surely this isn’t how this is supposed to be. Thank you for truth, honesty and encouragement.

    • Lee says:

      Thankful this encouraged you! It is a hard season when our hands are literally full! Yet even there God will meet us.

  18. Cortney says:

    Thanks for sharing this! I too often think of my quiet time as spiritual me time, but never really realized it until I read this! Thanks for helping to remind me of the fact that my time with the Lord isn’t about me at all- it’s about Jesus! I’m guilting of fussing at my daughter while holding my Bible in my hands… not the kind of Mama or Jesus Follower I want to be!

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