Fellow mommas, let's just all take a deep breath and a hot second to collect ourselves. Because life can be crazy. I mean, truly, undeniably, crazy. So many of us are running here and there with pickups and drop offs and making lunches and throwing dinner in the crockpot, and making appointments while the baby screams in our ear and the toddler spills Cheerios. Again. I know because I'm right there with you. And being in the midst of all this chaos can isolate us, frazzle us, and take us down if we don't get some connection. So that's why I decided to write this. I spent a few years doing this frantic pace, knowing I needed connection with God and yet somehow not being able to fit that in my crazy days. So that's why I decided to write this, starting off with a little window into my life via this fine photo...
First off, let’s just address, and then ignore, the clutter in the picture—the laundry, the toys—because that brings us to exactly my first point:
To connect with God in the busy season of motherhood, you’ll have to tune out countless distractions.
There will be toys that need picking up, laundry that needs doing, counters that need wiping, crumbs that need sweeping, bills that need paying (preferably on time), and approximately 7,653 other tasks calling out to you. I used to live out of the idea that if I could just get all those things done, I wouldn’t have anything weighing on my mind, and then I’d be able to focus and connect with God. I always feel more at ease when I’m in a clutter-free space. “Earth to Katherine, motherhood is not a clutter-free space.” My home and my surroundings will probably never be completely “clutter free” again. But the clutter in my house doesn’t have to equate to clutter in my heart. I’ve had to learn that I have to take breaks in the midst of the mess, say NO to the tasks calling for my attention, and give the attention to God instead. This season will never be “distraction-free,” so we have to learn to tune out the distractions.
So the picture above is what my mornings look like.
To connect with God, we have to carve out concrete and significant time in solitude with God alone.
This time, right here, is what gets me through the long days. If I don’t have this time, my life feels completely off-balance and out of whack. I get grouchy, impatient, and I seem to stumble through my day in a groggy fog.
This solitude is what centers me. This time spent anchoring my soul in God, and anchoring my mind in his word, is what keeps me grounded. My thoughts, the world around me, and other voices in my life try to tell me who I am, and they’re usually all wrong. I have to spend time letting God tell me who I am before I jump into that fray. Before I can even form coherent thoughts (mostly because the caffeine hasn’t kicked in yet), I let God remind me who I am. I center myself in trust, in love, in being a child of God.
The really sucky part of this is that in order for me to have sufficient time alone, it has to happen at around 5:30am. Before a few years ago, I didn’t even know 5:30 came twice a day on the clock. Let me make something abundantly clear: I am NOT a morning person. Now, you may try to argue this point because of the fact that I choose to get up at this time, but I’m going to argue right back. I’ve known morning people in my life. My dad is a morning person. He’s always gotten up early, and when he gets up, he’s rearin’ to go. He’s ready to take on life. He’s ready to talk to people. I, on the other hand, am in a half-alive, half-dead state that gradually wears off over a 2 hour period. Every morning when that alarm goes off, I just want to roll over and die. That’s not an exaggeration. I want to go back to sleep more than my daughters want to go to Disney World. But somewhere around the third or fourth time the alarm goes off, I hazily remember that if I sleep through this time, I’m choosing to let my whole day go wonky. I remind myself that there’s coffee downstairs, and that God is awake and waiting for me. 5:30am is worth it to meet with God, even for this never-ever-ever-gonna-be-a-morning-person.
I think it’s probably important to point out that I started this routine when Willa was still an infant, and NOT sleeping through the night. In fact, she was a HORRIBLE sleeper, and I could never predict from one night to the next whether I was going to get any sleep or not. And that’s partially why I made the decision to get up at the same time every morning and block off time with God. I wasn’t getting enough sleep anyway, so what was an hour less at this point? At least I’d have my soul fed and ready for the day, even if my body wasn’t. So I guess I have good news and bad news: if your children sleep (like, ever) then you have time to connect with God.
There are so many things we can’t control in life. When and how much our babies sleep is just one tiny variable in a world full of variables. But, most days, for an hour out of my allotted 24, I can choose what happens. I get to choose to prioritize my spiritual, mental, and emotional health, and my most important relationship: God.
My time with God in the mornings is definitely the most significant part of connecting with God, even in this crazy season. But there are a few other practices I’ve picked up over the years that help me center my soul throughout my day.
3) I infuse meaning into the meaningless tasks of my day with prayer.
When I do laundry, I pray for my family. As I’m pairing up tiny socks, I pray for protection wherever her feet take her. As I’m hanging up frilly dresses, I pray God would give them a passion for knowing and following him. As I fold little leggings, I pray God would give them all the strength they need for their purpose and destiny. I learned this from my mother-in-law, who folded laundry for eight lucky children for many, many years. I’m so thankful for all those prayers she prayed, and I’m thankful she passed on that brilliant idea so that even the mundane parts of my day have a little more purpose.
As I wash dishes, I look out our kitchen window and focus my thoughts on God. I meditate on Scripture or pray simple prayers. Sometimes I let my mind pour out all I’m thinking about to him, exchanging my burdens for his. Or sometimes I just give him my attention and listen. There’s a little book that I reread often called “The Practice of the Presence of God” and it’s all about this very thing. If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend it. It was written by Brother Lawrence, a lay person serving in a Carmelite monastery in 15th century France. He was a cook, and he found joy and purpose by communing with God during all his simple tasks.
As I clean, which usually only happens before a meeting in our house or having someone over (and sometimes not even then—sorry, friends) I pray God fills our house with his presence, and that those who come feel loved, welcome, and at peace here.
I know it sounds pretty cheesy, but for me, the alternative is worse. If I’m not mentally intentional with all the mindless tasks that I do every day, I can begin to get a bit cynical. Instead of feeling love and gratitude for my family, I can start to feel resentful toward them and the “work” they create for me.
**I LOVE my family. But I’m just bein’ real here. I’m sure you can’t relate at all to this and that you feel laundry and dishes are the privilege of your life. But if that’s you, just do me a favor and don’t tell me. It’ll make me feel better. Please and thank you.**
Instead of gratitude for all we have—including the food that dirties our dishes—I can start to feel irritation with all the “first world problems” we encounter (which aren’t problems at all). Instead of finding joy in serving others, like the example that Jesus sets for us, I can start to see my life as pointless and futile. Finding simple ways to turn my mind toward God and gain his perspective throughout my day is what keeps me sane. Otherwise, let’s be honest, I would be going mental. Because sometimes my entire day does feel pointless and futile. I am a mother, after all.
Motherhood is not distraction-free. So we have to actively choose to tune out the distractions.
Motherhood is crazy, so we have to carve out a time of solitude with God.
Motherhood can feel futile and pointless some days, so we have to connect with God throughout our seemingly meaningless tasks.
In the trenches with you. You are loved. I’d love to know how you connect with God, so respond in the comments and let’s share ideas!