Sometimes, I’m guilty of comparing myself. But my problem is not that I compare myself to others; my problem is that I’m comparing myself to myself, my old self in another stage in life. [Can you relate? Tweet it here.]
In college, I spent literally hours in prayer, memorized entire chapters (even books) of the Bible, and poured over lengthy passages of Scripture for my daily study. I woke up early and stayed up late and drank way too much caffeine.
Years later, after three pregnancies have worked over my brain, I’m grateful to be able to remember the last place I put my baby down, much less long passages of Scripture. I struggle to focus my mind on the chapter I’m reading and struggle not to edit my grocery list at the same time. I fight to wake up before the kids with enough time to spare to do a decent Bible study. Bottom line, I’m at a difficult stage in life. I’m not making excuses, and I’m not saying years down the road it will get tons better. But I am accepting what all the seasoned mother-mentors keep telling me: these early years aren’t easy.
So how do we nourish ourselves as we nurture others? How do we keep our spiritual walk in shape while running after littles? Here are a few thoughts—some of them my own and some of them from others—that may not overcome the struggle but will at least keep us in the fight.
A Little at a Time
“Slow and steady wins the race.” “Eat the elephant a bite at a time.” There’s something to be said for small steps. I have so appreciated Ann Voskamp’s memory work simply because she has broken it down into manageable bits. I don’t have the time or the brain I had in college to memorize a chapter of Scripture in a week, but I could still memorize longer passages of Scripture one verse at a time.
Another ministry that has really benefitted me is the Good Morning Girls studies, which use the method of S.O.A.P. and assign small chunks of Scripture. I was truly amazed how much I got out of meditating on just a couple of verses a day. Another option is to spread Bible study out to several smaller chunks of time throughout the day rather than one large chunk at a time. I have very few chunks of time where there are no interruptions. But if you’re like me, you do have snippets of time here and there. Take advantage of the moments to memorize, to meditate, or to pray.
Accepting our Blessings
So it might not be possible to get time to yourself right now. Invite your little ones into your time and share the example of your walk with God. I’ll never forget, morning after morning, coming down the stairs to see my mom with her Bible and notebook open studying the Word. During breakfast, we would all talk about what we had just read in the Bible; it was great accountability and a strikingly influential memory. Of course, my littles wake up and need morning cuddles immediately, but letting them cuddle as I finish my reading or reading out loud to them as I finish up are simple ways to influence them at an early age and to turn “interruptions” into opportunities.
Welcoming a Helping Hand
In the midst of maintaining our Super Mom persona, we often don’t want to admit that we are struggling. There is often a stigma attached to failing at daily Bible study; and fearing what others may think keeps us from becoming vulnerable and asking for a little help. I definitely struggle with this, particularly since I also have the looming guilt of what I used to do in comparison. Find a friend to hold you accountable; and with technology, that accountability could be as simple as a weekly email to each other, a facebook status/message, or your other favorite way to stay connected.
Help from a spouse is another often overlooked resource; admit to your husband that you are having trouble. Ask him to watch the kids for half an hour in the evenings, or to make breakfast for them while you sneak away for your quiet time. Even just asking for prayer is a way that he can help you and stay connected with your struggles. We are not intended to live the Christian life alone; and at this stage especially, stubborn pride and independence can be absolutely fatal to our spiritual walk.
I’m not who I used to be—spiritually or in any other way. But just because my life is different, doesn’t mean I have to choose between my God and my God-given duties.