So rather than reminisce right now on the rough road of the last few months I am going to focus on one very specific topic. Something I have wanted to write a post about for months already. The topic of Church and spirituality in the life of the modern young mom. My friend Stephanie over at Metropolitan Mama wrote on this several months back and I was instantly intrigued and inspired as I too have shared this struggle.
As it happens for most moms, bringing my baby into the world meant an almost complete and abrupt end to me time. Once that mommy radar begins to whir your brain is never again baby free. Even when you are without them you are wondering or worrying about their welfare. I believe this is a phenomenon known only to woman as my husband, although adoring his daughter, seems to easily switch off his "dad" brain...even with her sitting four feet away. It is not so for me.
Therefore, church...and any type of devotional/spiritual life became somewhat of well....a waste of time. At church I spent my time in a noisy nursery either nursing my infant or trying to calm a tired toddler who missed her morning nap. During the week I would try and take a few moments for devotions or daily bible reading...but being emotionally and physically spent for at least the first seven months of my daughters life meant that no matter how hard I tried I simply couldn't extract much meaning from it. And that was when I could even find five minutes for me time in the first place. Like many young moms I have met I felt discouraged, depleted, and wondered if there was any way that I could ever find fulfillment in traditional religion in the future.
In the last month I have finally laid it all down and realized the answer is a resounding "No". I hadn't realized before my baby arrived how incredibly traditional I actually was. How I believed that I had to go to a traditional church where we sit and listen to singing, a sermon, and sharing every Sunday. How I should do devotions daily and study the scriptures for a certain amount of time each week. I have now found myself involved in a great awakening.
First of all I allowed myself to admit that the traditional style church, no matter how amazing or modern it may be, simply does not suite the life of a young mom. My husband and I recently found a solution to this in a house church that meets weekly over a shared Sunday brunch in a relaxed atmosphere. In this environment everyone feels like family and nobody cares if my Little Lady is running lose while we listen to the person sharing the devotional. Someone else is always willing to entertain her and she is not forced to sit still and silent or confined to a noisy nursery. There is a children's program during the more serious part of the service and since it's so small I don't mind my daughter joining them if she wants to. Plus, everyone takes turns so every mom gets at least a few Sundays to just sit and listen with the adults. This freedom has allowed me to relax and really soak up the encouragement of others each Sunday. I finally feel excited about attending a "church" again!
Secondly, I recently have been reading the book "The Velveteen Woman" by Brenda Waggoner while my daughter eats breakfast. This book has opened my world up to experience God in a whole new way. I have learned that I don't need to lament this stage in my life or in my spiritual walk. God never required a bunch of rules in the first place. He just wants my heart. I am learning to hear him just as well (maybe better) in the children's books I read my daughter, in the life lessons I learn through her eyes, in a song, or in a movie as I used to hear him through the bible. I am learning that he speaks my love language. Which means I don't have to fit this traditional mold in order to feel his love. He loves me through my daughters hugs, her sweet little kisses, through a sunshine filled day.
It's not that the traditional things are wrong and neither do I plan to abandon them altogether. I am simply learning that God does not live in a box and he is not heard only in the Bible. He is real, he is here, and he understands this season in my spirituality even better than I do. Through him showing my how to be real I am realizing that perhaps motherhood is not the end of my spiritual sojourn....perhaps...it is only the beginning.