On Sunday night I set my alarm clock for 15 minutes earlier than my earliest normal wake up time. My plan for Advent was to get in at least 15 extra minutes of Scripture reading, in addition to my normal (“quickie Mom version”) morning devotions. I must admit I rolled into bed quite proud of myself for my chosen Advent sacrifice – after all, I
love LOVE sleep, so this was an appropriate gift to bring my Lord in the mornings.
I’ve found that once my kids get up it’s
nearly impossible to get in prayer or devotional time in the morning. The day kinda starts with a bang (and poopie diapers, and breakfast routine, and playtime, and more poopie diapers, and ref-ing fights between the bear cubs over who had the toy first…). So the only answer for my situation in life is to beat them to the wakeup punch. Thus my early-er alarm for Monday morning.
Wouldn’t you know it, BOTH of my cubs woke up 9 minutes before my alarm was to go off on Monday. Both of them. One banging on his door to be let out, the other yelling “Ma-Ma, Ma-MA, MA-MA” from his crib.
I could hardly believe my bad luck. I love my kids but I readily admit, I was utterly dismayed to hear them. They couldn’t possibly be up – I had plans to get HOLY for crying out loud.
So I scooped them both up in my arms, marched us downstairs for diaper changes, bottles, and coffee (that last one was for me, not them) and sat them down next to me on the couch. As I grabbed my Bible off the end table, I did what any self-respecting inexperienced wet-behind-the-ears Mama would do: I looked my babies in the eye and told them it was Mommy’s time with Jesus. I was not to be interrupted for 15 minutes because I would be a better mommy if I could just have a few minutes with Jesus. Promise. Thanks so much for your cooperation buddies.
You seasoned Mamas can guess how (in)effective my little speech was. The precise result was my toddler yelling “Mommy put down your Bible right now! I want to read THOMAS!”
Three days farther into my Advent journey, my 6 o’clock alarm is still pretty much ineffective. One or the other of my children have gotten up shockingly early…just to spite me perhaps? Just so the Lord can teach me a lesson? Just by chance? Who knows.
What I DO know, is that the Lord has already done a work in my heart this Advent. Just not the way I had planned to be His workshop.
You see, I had a prideful “Mama’s gonna get holy-er” attitude launching into this special season. I was planning to grow closer to the Lord MY way, on my terms, on my timeline.
But the truth is, that’s not what the Lord has called me to. My vocation is marriage and motherhood. I don’t come first, even when it comes to how and when I’d like to do my devotions. The poopie diapers and the bowls of breakfast oatmeal and reading Thomas the Tank Engine is the path to holiness that the Lord has chosen for me, and that I have chosen to accept for myself. My life – both my actions, my work, and my laying my desires down for the sake of my family, is the path to holiness my Savior has designed for me.
One of my best friends is a nun with the Sisters of Life order in New York. She entered religious life the same summer that I got married. We’ve talked about how different our paths to holiness are. I struggle for a few minuets of quiet in the mornings, and she spends several hours of each morning on her knees in the presence of Our Lord. She doesn’t clean up poopie diapers or spilled milk; instead she offers the Lord her time and her presence in a deep and intimate way. We’re both beset by struggles and sacrifices on our chosen paths. It’s just different routes of arriving at the same destination.
I’m not giving up on my Advent devotions. In fact I’ve still been able to get that extra scripture reading time in despite the bear cubs presence (this morning it entailed reading the Psalms out loud to Luke while he
squirmed played with a toy in my lap. But I did it nonetheless. Some mornings these boys will sleep in and I’ll have that quiet time. Some days that alarm clock just might have to be set a few minutes earlier than I’d like. And some days I’ll have to just embrace the moment of my motherhood and make my work my prayer.
For everything there is a season. Some day in the future, I’ll have teenagers instead of toddlers, and instead of fighting for morning quiet time I’ll be fighting to get them out of bed at a godly hour.
That’s the beauty of living in His time, not dictating time as if it’s my own.
“We must have a real living determination to reach holiness. I will be a saint means I will despoil myself of all that is not God; I will strip my heart of all created things; I will live in poverty and detachment; I will renounce my will, my inclinations, my whims and fancies, and make myself a slave to the will of God.” – Blessed Mother Teresa
Come Lord Jesus.