Confessions from a New Mom’s Devotional LifeBy Trillia Newbell | January 28th, 2013 | Category: Motherhood | 3 comments
Before I became a mom, I had never been so afraid of sharing my personal life with others. As a writer who regularly reflects on my life as a Christian, woman, wife, and mother, that may sound like a surprising admission, but it’s true. As much as I try to be transparent, the mommy wars have often cowed me into silence on a number of issues. When it comes to dicey subjects like birth plans, vaccinations, sleep training, and disciplining one’s children, I keep my head down. Forget about broaching these topics online—I don’t even bring them up with my friends!
There are a lot of opinions and a lot of guilt when it comes to parenting. Even in the presence of close friends, I hesitate to open up about my parenting practices for fear of judgment. For all I know, they might think I am ruining my child!
Ever since my son was born, I’ve had to fight guilt off with a stick. And my spiritual life has been no different. Just the other night, my husband and I sat down to figure out the best time to read the Bible as a family. Unfortunately, we couldn’t think of one. My 5 month old son’s schedule is still so erratic that it’s difficult to plan anything. Added to this wildcard is my schedule and my husband’s schedule. He often leaves the house shortly after my son awakes, and I rarely come home before bedtime.
As a result, my husband and I found no solution, no scheduling sweet spot. We felt discouraged and a bit defeated.
Needless to say, it has been tough establishing a consistent time with God. I know that I need it, and I feel guilty about my inconsistency, but life is so chaotic! What’s a new mom to do?
Over time, I have settled on two solutions to my devotional dilemma:
First, stop feeling guilty. God knows how crazy new motherhood is, and He has never been one to compel our attention with shame. He invites us to come as we are and cast our cares on Him. He is the source of rest, peace, and abundant life, not rules that condemn.
Second, be flexible. Although we typically think of time with God as a structured, daily devotional time, there is more to a relationship with God than that. Just think of a marital relationship as an example: If I want to maintain intimacy and communication with my husband, I will set aside consistent alone time with him. But, our communication is not confined to romantic dates or the evening hours after our son has gone to sleep. Instead, we talk all day long. All day every day we work together, we solve problems together, encourage one another, seek counsel from one another, and have fun together. My husband is never far from my heart, my mind, or my experiences.
Likewise, our relationship with God should have a holistic quality to it. Yes, we should set aside time just for Him, but true communion with God lasts all day long.
As a new mom, that is good news.
Although my structured devotional times have undoubtedly suffered since my son’s birth, my prayer life has flourished. Part of the reason is that I feel my need for God’s provision far more acutely than I did before. I need God’s peace when I worry about my son’s safety, and I need his companionship when I feel isolated at home. Throughout the day I pray for my son’s future and character and relationship with the Lord, and I pray for my role as a parent. I pray for strength, for sleep, for grace.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 instructs us to “pray without ceasing.” Ever since I became a mom, I have come to understand this verse in a new way. As a frazzled mom, God has been a constant companion, One who is always near my thoughts and speaking into my actions. I often find myself calling on Him for help, but also praising Him for the miracle of my son.
If you are like me, trudging through the trenches of new motherhood and feeling guilty that your devotional life isn’t just so, remember that we are called to a relationship, not a regimen. Christian habits are goods to be cultivated, but they are not standards to shame us. So invite God out of the prayer closet and into the craziness. He will meet you there!
Sharon Hodde Miller is a writer and a student, currently pursuing her Ph.D at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. She is a regular contributor to Her.meneutics, Ungrind.org and CultivateHer.com, and she has also written for Gifted for Leadership and LifeWay’s Collegiate magazine. Sharon is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild, and you can read more of Sharon’s writing at her own blog, SheWorships.com. Sharon lives in the Chicago area with her husband and their son.
photo by criminalatt via freedigitalphotos.net