Finding time with God, not to mention finding a few moments of quiet to simply catch your breath, is a real challenge when you’re a mom of little ones. After a few years in this mom gig, I have found new ways to connect with God that don’t require a formal quiet time. In the coming weeks, I will share some of my ideas with you. But first I want to start where God started with me, with grace and surrender. The first step is to give up on quiet time. Stop trying so hard and let go of your need to have your quiet time look a certain way. Here’s what I mean.
Quit the Struggle to Make Quiet Time Happen
Since I have become a mom, by and large, most times I attempt to have a quiet time with God, something inevitably thwarts my efforts. No matter how early I wake up, one of my kids will hear me and get up too. And honestly, on the mornings when my kids have been up at all hours of the night, I just don’t have it in me to get up at 5 am. Once they are up, I try to set them up with an activity or the TV, but sometimes the activity doesn’t hold their attention or I end up spending the time feeling guilty about setting them in front of the TV, especially if I’ve been relying on TV a little too much. Which happens.
I will give a nod to nap time, which often does work better. That is, if I can withstand the distracting siren call of housework, luring me away to do something “more productive.” But when toys and dishes and laundry pile up too high, that siren call is damn near ear-splitting.
And sometimes, if we are honest, time with God feels like one more thing to do, one more task on the list of endless responsibilities. Sometimes, I need a nap too, or at least a break to zone out in front of the tube. I get it. And you know what, God gets it too.
Out with the Old, In with the New
Part of the trouble is that we keep trying to connect with God in the same way we did before we were moms. But after we become moms, our familiar quiet time practices don’t fit our lifestyle anymore. God is still there and we can still connect with Him, but it looks different and often we don’t know how to do that. So we end up feeling frustrated, or even resentful with our little ones, when we can’t seem to make a quiet time happen.
I desperately tried to figure out how to fit the familiar structure of my quiet time routine into my new life. My routine included the usual: Bible reading, coffee, a journal, and maybe a few books. The practice grounded me and secured me in my relationship with God. And when my baby disrupted my quiet time, I felt off kilter, unsteady, and even guilty in my relationship with God. Until then, I didn’t realize how much I relied on my particular routine to feel close to God.
After wrestling hard to fit a square peg in a round hole, I finally realized that I just needed to stop trying so hard. I decided to give up quiet times altogether for a season. I relinquished my spiritual security blanket and opened myself up to the idea that this was not the only way I could show my devotion to God and grow spiritually. Only then was I able to discover new ways of spending time with God that worked with my new season of life.
A Quiet Time is One Practice Among Many Ways To Connect with God
Like me, you may have been trained in your faith to establish a regular quiet time, with bonus points if you did it first thing in the morning. Pastors and youth pastors, mentors and accountability partners drill into us the importance of setting aside time in God’s Word. And rightly so. Their influence helps us follow Christ in our daily lives. Quiet times nurture our discipleship. I wholeheartedly believe in the goodness and beauty of this practice.
But even so, they aren’t the be-all, end-all of our relationship with God. There are may other ways to connect with God that don’t require a quiet time, but can still nurture and deepen our relationship with Jesus. Some of them we may recognize, like reading and praying through a Psalm, but others may be new to us, like the prayer of examen. Perhaps there are ways we have discounted or overlooked, like practicing God’s presence by reflecting on a moment in our life, or meeting with others and intentionally having spiritual conversations. Or maybe we just haven’t practiced them enough to feel any connection with God through them. In the coming weeks, we will dive deeper into these and other practices.
The Danger Of Relying Solely on a Quiet Time
Quiet time is simply one practice out of many to connect with God. In fact, there is danger in relying solely on one religious practice. As I look back on my experience, I realize that my quiet time became an idol because I needed it to secure my feeling of being in good standing with God. When I had a quiet time I felt close to God, I felt his pleasure, and I felt secure in my relationship with Him. Without it, I felt insecure in my relationship with him.
I held a false belief that God’s love and delight in me depended on my behavior, particularly on whether I had a quiet time or not. I still needed to learn that grace isn’t just for the beginning of my relationship with God, leaving the rest up to me to keep up a good record. But grace is something daily to rely on and believe. I didn’t yet grasp His unfailing love for me. Or that living in God’s kingdom is about Him and what He does, not about me and what I do. I didn’t know any of this yet, not really.
Losing My Religion
But when our backs are against the wall, and the only way to sanity and love is to give something up, it’s often then, we discover what we truly believe, as opposed to what we say we believe. So giving up quiet times was one of the best things that happened to my life with God. My belief and trust in the grace of God grew arms and legs when I experienced his love for me, even and especially when I couldn’t give him anything in return.
By taking this step of faith, though it felt risky and at odds with what I thought was right, surrendering the quiet times allowed me to experience and deeply know God’s love for me, without any strings attached. While it might feel frightening, and like losing something precious, perhaps you need to learn this too.
Losing Religion, Finding a Good Father
One of the gifts of motherhood is the lesson of letting go. There will be so many times that we need to give up, let go and fall into the arms of our Father in our motherhood journeys. Letting go of our ideas of what quiet time should look like will teach us trust: that God will hold us, continue to love us, and even continue to guide us spiritually, even without our efforts.
It will not be forever. I can attest to this, time and space for quiet times will return. As my youngest turns three, I’m learning how to carve out space for quiet times again, with less and less struggle. Trust that as you let go of an old season and embrace your season with little ones, that this too shall pass. Another season will soon arrive and allow you again to enjoy the delight of spending quiet time with your Father.
Until then, receive freedom and grace to let go of your quiet times. Start from scratch about the way you think about and approach what it means to connect with God as a mom. Trust that God will love you well in this busy and demanding season. He will see your needs and meet them in his own way and his own time. And trust that it will be enough.
So What Other Ways Can You Connect with God?
Stay tuned! In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of the ways God taught me to find him as a busy, distracted mother. The things he wants to teach you may be different from what he needed to teach me so even as I share them, keep your hands open and remain flexible to the ways the Spirit of God wants to move in your life.
We must experiment with different ways to connect with God. There are so many avenues of connecting with God outside of our normal habits of structured quiet times, but sometimes, in order to find these new ways, the first thing we must do is give up altogether.
If you know another mom who could use some grace in this area of her life, please share this post with her.