My first thought when I was asked to write a short article on being devoted to Christ as a busy mum was, ‘Fail!’. So may the Lord challenge and change me as I write this.
One crucial lesson I have learned (and keep learning) about being a busy Christian mum is grace. I need grace all the time and thankfully God is willing to pour it out all the time. That old ‘faith versus feelings’ trap is a killer for a mother who loses heart over her failings, but God is a gracious, gentle Father, who has forgiven all my sin and inadequacies. He knows the beginning of my day to the end and has prepared good works for me to carry out. He gives me all the grace I need to get through the weekly laundering (112 socks, 56 articles of underwear – not including extras for potty training), cooking (56 evening meals and 20 packed lunches), taking piano lessons, helping with youth clubs, mother and toddlers, Christianity Explored, the child minding of nieces and nephews, the regular runs to school, tennis, football, athletics and brass band – and in all that bring him glory. The tricky thing is getting around to asking him for the grace. Or is it? That brings me to another lesson.
I’ve read many blogs and articles, and had many a conversation along the lines of, ‘Quiet time? What’s that?!’ or ‘It’s so hard to find some peace and quiet when mothering young children.’ ‘The day just gets taken up with so many jobs, before you know it, its bedtime.’ It’s easy to believe that admitting to spending little or sporadic time with God justifies it. But it doesn’t. I’m then often offered platitudes like, ‘Oh, it must be so hard for you, I don’t know how you do it’ or ‘You mustn’t feel bad, the Lord knows you’re busy’. But I have come to firmly believe that that is nonsense (albeit given with the lovely intention of not wanting to upset, offend or add any more burdens of guilt).
Let me explain. I have no problem finding time to skim read the news, check out Pinterest, glance through my Facebook feed, edit the odd Instagram, maintain several WhatsApp conversations or watch the occasional crime drama even whilst mothering six children between the ages of two and thirteen. Being devoted to Christ is a heart issue, whether we have none, one or nine children, whether we work at home or work away. We will find time to do what we really want. At this point I am now starting to awkwardly twitch in my seat. I’ll be the first to admit that I am dreadful at time management, but even then it is still possible to have precious moments with the Lord throughout the day. So when I am hanging out laundry I can pray and sing. When I am ironing I can listen to a sermon or Christian music. When I am attempting to pair socks I can ask for a patient and cheerful heart. As 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, ‘So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do [as a wife/mother], do it all to the glory of God.’
Delight in God
It’s fair to say that ‘quiet times’ will inevitably change form when you have children, and that is okay. But rather than making laws about how often and how long our times with God should be, let us ask him for a heart that delights in him, in his laws and his wisdom, and his promises. Let’s ask him for a heart that, despite being very full and busy, stores its treasure heavenward. My husband and children – whilst they would undoubtedly benefit from a consistent daily and weekly routine, freshly baked and home-grown food, clean bedding every week and matching socks every day – are in far greater need of a wife and mother whose heart yearns more for the Lord and prays for wisdom to fulfil her role. (I am convicted by my own words, on all counts! I thank God again for his grace.)
Certainly read some good parenting books, but love Christ and his word more. Without doubt, sacrificially serve in the church, but not for the praise of man. Thoroughly enjoy your coffee mornings, but do not gossip and secretly compare parenting skills (gulp!). John Piper comments on 1 Peter 2:7, ‘The mark of a child of God is not perfection, but hunger for Christ.’ Let me adapt that slightly, ‘The mark of a godly wife and mother is not domestic perfection but hunger for Christ.’ ‘To you who believe, [Christ] is precious.’