Five Creative Ways to Connect with God in a Season with Young Children
I plopped down on the couch and let out a sigh. All three kids were in bed and I could finally have a few moments to myself.
My Bible sat there next to me on the side table, seeming to send me a gentle invitation from God himself, “Come, open My Word and see what you will find…” This divine invitation, one that came at the same time every morning and every evening, is one to which I would usually say a wholehearted ‘Yes!’ But since becoming a mom (now of three children under age 5!), I can sheepishly identify with the sleepy-eyed disciples who could barely stay awake to pray, to whom Jesus said: "...the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). Sigh. After a full day with the kids, physical and mental exhaustion kick in and all I can do is plop into bed and hope for more motivation the next day. Repeat.
Am I the only one?
I spent years living in this place of defeat (and ensuing guilt) for not spending enough time with God. I even started to believe that God, who I'd known as my loving Father in my single days, was perpetually disappointed in me. How could He be pleased with me when I can't even "show up" to a proper quiet time? Thoughts like these would plague my heart and mind on a daily basis. Until...
One night I was nursing my son in the middle of the night, I was peering down at him and suddenly aware of the intense and indescribable overflowing love I had for him. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I heard that little divine whisper from within,
"This is how I see and feel about you, Ali."
Gulp. I sat there dumbfounded for a moment and tried to process what I was hearing. The God who I thought had given up on me was whispering a foundational Truth that my weary heart and dry soul needed to hear:
"My love for you has nothing - do you hear that? - nothing to do with what you do or how you show up. Just as you love (with an intense, unconditional love) the babe in your arms who is sleeping, helpless, needy and dependent, I love you."
Wow. This was enough to shift my entire perspective on how I was seeing my relationship with God. I realized that what kept me so stuck and discouraged was that I kept looking back on my life and trying to re-create how I used to meet with God. This entailed waking in the early morning hours (well-rested from an unbroken night of sleep) with my journal, Bible and coffee in hand, to enjoy 1-2 hours of uninterrupted fellowship with my Lord. This became my standard, so when I got married and had children, I continued to try and keep this same standard and formula for meeting with and having intimacy with God.
But that night while nursing my son, a new thought hit me like a ton of bricks:
Quit looking back to what was! And look for new ways to meet with God, who is not limited by your current season.
While my heart and soul still long for those quiet lengthy times of meeting with Him, and I still quietly hope they will return to me on the other side of this season of nursing and diapers, I have been able to inhale a bit of God’s amazing GRACE into my life and have surprisingly found Him in the unexpected places.
Here are five simple and powerful ways I have been blessed to meet with God in a season with young children (and sleepless nights!) and hope you will be encouraged to look for Him in these places too:
Enjoying moments of gazing upon your baby/child. As you enjoy precious moments nursing or caring for your littles ones, remember that our Father in Heaven feels the same way about you. This can help to receive God's love and affection in a season that may keep us from "showing up" like we ideally want to. He loves and cares for us regardless of how much we do for Him. It really is the Truth.
Reading the Children's Bible (with your child). I am often surprised as I read the stories of the Children's Bible, how a certain line or verse (or even picture) will stick out to me. When this happens, keep it in your heart and mind and ask God what He wants to say to you through it. God is not limited to speaking when we are seated in our chair with our (adult) Bible open. He can speak anytime as long as we are listening.
Listening to Scripture or inspiring Christian podcasts while you cook and clean. This has become a ritual I look forward to when I am cooking. I choose a book of the Bible or spiritually enriching podcast to listen to while I am in the kitchen preparing food. It has become my time with God where the tank of my soul can be filled just enough to keep going.
Play worship music in your home throughout the day. My kids know that we begin and end each day with some kind of worship playing. They know all the words to many of the songs, which is fun, but more than that I use this time to imagine sitting in God's presence and let the words wash over me! I find that I feel refreshed, encouraged and strengthened when I allow my heart to engage with God even as my kids are running around, arguing, throwing legos or spilling milk. Sometimes I even belt out the words or do some crazy dance moves to break through tiredness and impatience! Here are links to some of our family favorites here:
Blessing (Hawaii): https://youtu.be/BxQ0RnKjrzY
Abba, I Belong to You: https://youtu.be/E1L_4RqtCh0
5. Realize that as you give your own life for your family each day, you are reflecting the loving sacrifice of Christ. This is something I think about regularly as I am giving endlessly to the little people around me each day. I think about Jesus and the sacrifice He made and how when we embrace the call to live sacrificially, we are emulating and reflecting His life and love in our broken world. Somehow this encourages me and reminds me that God is pleased by my giving my whole self to my family in this season.
I hope these ideas refresh your perspective on meeting with God as they have for me. Our God is not limited by our human limitations that arise in various seasons. He promises to be with us in every season of life, and is the God who “came down” to us through Jesus. Sometimes we just have to get creative and pay attention.
What would you add to the list of ways to connect with God in a season with young children (or any other demanding season for that matter)?