I didn’t really notice until I had Jayce, my second-born, how motherhood can really affect one’s spirituality. Going from a quiet, peaceful environment where it seems I had all the time in the world to devote to God in the way of a prayer life or devotions or church groups, meetings, etc. to a much noisier and messy environment where I felt exhausted and homebound with no mental energy to give to anything or anyone other than this little person who seemed permanently attached to my breast for a good part of a year was, to say the least, jarring. No more leisurely Bible reading in the quiet, sunny places of my home, no more prayers besides the occasional fragments I fired like clay pigeons* to the heavens every now and again – even church became more a monthly occurrence than a weekly one.
Did I feel guilty in not spending more time with God? I don’t know – I think I was too tired. But I eventually came to the realization that for me, at least, I needed to allow myself one year to feel like I’m back “in realignment” with God – one year to somewhat “detach” from this little human who has taken everything I’ve offered and then some, one year to let my hormones get off the roller coaster track and stop the world from spinning, one year to start feeling normal again. And I think God completely understands this and allows me that time as well. However, I think I need to question my own beliefs about the grace I feel I’m “allowed” during this one year period (or longer, once more kids arrive on the scene), and whether my spiritual “hiatus” necessarily needs to be viewed as one instead of seeing the opportunities within this time period to still be spiritual, still seek out spiritual opportunities and still feel spiritually connected to God in the everyday without feeling the need to do or be more. In the Midst of Chaos is a book I’m currently reading that addresses just this issue. In it, the author states:
“Within my own religious tradition, Christianity, faith and spirituality have usually been defined by adults who stand at a great distance from children. Spirituality, in this dominant view, is something that requires quiet and solitude and that is best experienced in disciplined settings of prayer, worship , or Bible study. Children and families can participate in these practices to some extent, it is generally acknowledged. However, the overall effect of this view is to portray faith in a way that keeps it separate from the daily experience of children and those caught in the mundane toil of their care.
I want to redeem the chaos of care as a site for God’s good news. What would happen, this book asks, if we were to search for spiritual wisdom by looking closely at messy, familial ways of living? What would happen if we considered how people discover God not just when alone, in worship, or on the mountaintop, but when with others – specifically when with children and all the turbulence and wonder they bring into our world?”
“This book is an invitation to discover God in the midst of chaos, not just through silence, calm, prayer, or meditation but by practicing faith within the tumultuous activity of daily life. It is about the chaos of family life and how people might find God within it through less commonly recognized practices of faith such as playing, reading aloud, deciding where to live, or figuring out how to divide up household chores. Revising our conventional understandings of faith and the spiritual life in these ways requires us to see children anew as more fully embodied and more fully knowing than some conventional views suggest, lots more trouble but also much more alive and wondrous. It also prompts us adults to look deeply at the dynamics of our own lives of faith.” 1
I’m officially intrigued, aren’t you? As I delve more deeply into this book, I hope to be able to share more insights with you about this topic and will probably be quoting from this book quite a bit to share some of its wisdom with you. My hope is that together we will be able to see where our spiritual lives can grow and are growing even in the midst of our everyday lives as mothers, wives and friends. If my eyes can be opened even a little bit to see God in my everyday life when I’m too tired to even look in a mirror some days and see myself, it will be worth it. I’d rather see God than myself any day anyway.
1 In the Midst of Chaos: Caring for Children as Spiritual Practice written by Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore