This is how I used to wake up in Mozambique. To sunlight pouring in my room, to space, to endless time. A steaming cup of tea, a walk to the prayer hut, a long hour gazing at the Indian ocean, streams of thinking and prayers and Scripture. It wasn’t that different in the UK – a small, strong cup of coffee, a walk in the park or perching on my little balcony, wrapped in layers and whispering words of love to God. The theme was the same – endless time. And if, for whatever reason, that morning peaceful slot was cut, there would always be another hour or two later in the day to relax, to sit, to think, to pray. My days threw up endless hours I could seize or not seize for intimacy, depending on my mood. It was quite nice like that.
I am in my 9th month of pregnancy and I have a toddler. This is how I wake up now. Groggy doesn’t even come close. “Waaaaaaaaaah-aah!” “Mummeeeeeee!” I can’t really stomach a cup of tea anymore but I’m trying to make myself one to feel semi-normal. “Waaa-ahhh!” Where is her bottle? Where is the milk? “Milk! Milk! Milk! Dadd-ee!” I slump into bed and I whisper a prayer for the both of us, I shove down some Frosties before I start to feel a little queasy and tease my earring out of her mouth. The day has begun. She beat me to the dawn again, I didn’t have a second’s quiet time, and when she goes down for a nap at noon – when those precious quiet hours arise – I know I won’t feel much like seeking Him and more like hiding under a duvet.
It’s true this is a particularly full on time. But a newborn and a toddler won’t be particularly less full on, nor two toddlers. The time little ones need and the tiredness they bring won’t evaporate any time soon. I could write thousands of words about how I feel like the luckiest woman in the world to have my beloved Booboo and this new package – I am crazy about being a mum. I love it, more than I could ever have imagined. It has been more beautiful than I could have known. But this blog isn’t about that – what I want to think about is this: The Elusive Quiet Time. Where did it go? Does my intimacy with Jesus depend on it? And if it does, what on earth am I going to do?
When Lily was tiny, it was easier. I would feed her and sneak out of the house at 5am, knowing she would sleep another hour and I could be alone with God. I could connect with Him in the way I always knew how: in quiet, alone, surrounded by nature. (I only came home to a crying newborn and a desperate father a couple of times…!) Now my time is getting busier. I am inheriting another beautiful new treasure. Lily has grown into a little person. She won’t sleep all day and when she’s up, she wants a lot of Mummy. And throughout the months of motherhood and pregnancy, I watched my time with God get shorter and I got frustrated. I missed Him. I missed Him in the way I knew how to reach Him. I wondering if He was getting disappointed, maybe He missed me too and I was the one doing the running.
Sometimes there were moments where I was tired but He would call me to come, with lots of intention and time, just like I used to. But most of the time, He started to show me a new way to reach Him. Short, little prayers. Short, little songs. Short, little thank yous. It felt so small. So insignificant and so powerless. I did them with Lily. I would sing a little worship chorus as she drank her milk. I would pray a sentence with her last thing at night. When she cried, I would sing the story of the nativity. And when she woke, we read a tiny bible story together. All these things were just seconds, minutes of time. Tiny. This wasn’t so much for her, as much for me. I needed these moments, I needed to eat of Him.
And for months this rhythm of minutes has become more natural. And last week I finally saw – God, you are so clever. This is the best way. How else is she ever to know how to sing, unless her mama sings over her? How else is she ever going to utter a prayer, unless her mama utters her weak little prayers every night? How else will she learn the beautiful stories of God, unless her mama reads them – and not just reads them as Teacher, but reads them because they are her daily food? If my spiritual walk is something I run off to first thing in the morning, desperate to get it over with before she walks, how will she ever see?
So whilst I feel like my rhythms of connecting with him have been broken down, they have broken down into beautiful pieces. Beautiful pieces that I am learning to love and that she is learning to hold. Sacrificial love doesn’t just mean changing a nappy when I’d rather relax, it means sharing of myself, even the deepest, most precious parts of me. Even my intimacy with Him. I used to worry, I have no time, no energy – am I sacrificing my intimacy with Him now I have children? But instead he asked me sacrifice my one way (and only way, or so I thought) of reaching him, so I could share. Share the most beautiful God with the most beautiful girls in the whole world. I’m in.