When you become a mother, you go through a massive transformation. The physical changes are obvious, but there is just as much change going on in your mind and in your life. It is a test of your spiritual strength and because so much in your life has changed, you will need to find new ways to feed your soul the spiritual nourishment it needs. It's ok if it takes you a while to get on your feet. I'll be honest, it took me 2 1/2 years (mostly because it took me that long to see the problem). Keep trying. Seek and you shall find. And I hope that what I write here will be an encouragement to you to diligently seek out a rich and fulfilling relationship with God even when your body, time, and strength are in demand like never before.
Part 1 - At Home
In part two, I plan to cover getting spiritual food while assembling with Christians, but if you have been overly dependent upon feeding your soul in the assembly and have not been using your time at home, then you may start feeling as dry as a desert in a short time. This is a time in your life, where you will need to get most of your sustenance on your own at home. Try to look at it as an opportunity to build your faith in a new and necessary way.
1. Make peace with interruptions.
This was one of the hardest things for me to learn. As a mother, your life will have constant interruption. The more you cling to a certain time as being "my time", the more you will just get angry and frustrated when you are interrupted and cultivating this anger in your heart will only eat away at your soul and the relationships you have with the people you love the most. Just accept that your life will be interrupted now. You can get good nutrition by eating small frequent meals throughout the day, so learn to look at your spiritual life the same way. Instead of depending on a feast of an hour of quiet time to read and pray, feed your soul throughout the day in small doses. This way when the baby needs holding all day because of a growth spurt or teething or just because it is a baby and that is what they do, you won't feel spiritually starved and irritable because the baby interrupted your plans. And when you do get an hour of uninterrupted time, you can TAKE A NAP! (And don't feel guilty for taking that nap! God knows you need sleep!)
2. Develop your prayer life.
Prayer is the way that we communicate with our Lord and at this time in your life, you need God's guidance and wisdom more than ever. Prayer is a good indicator of where we are spiritually. If you are feeling spiritually low, chances are you have not been in the habit of praying and communing with God lately. Pray all the time in snippets if that is all you get. Start the day with prayer. Pray while you are washing dishes, nursing your baby, rocking your baby to sleep... pray all day long!
I have seen my faith grow in leaps and bounds just by doing two things with the way I pray. First, I am no longer afraid to make bold requests. Ask big and God will move mountains! Second, make your requests very specific. No detail is too insignificant for God. Are you stressed about needing some more time with your husband? Figuring out why your baby seems to be crying in pain? Wondering how you are going to keep praying when you are so scatterbrained and exhausted? Pray about those specific things. Do what you can on your end, but then turn it over to God and watch Him work in your life. And then thank Him for how He does it.
3. Stay connected with the Word -
If prayer is the way you talk to God, His Word is the main way He talks to you. You need His voice in your heart now more than ever, and yet, sitting down and reading your Bible seems so impossible sometimes. You might have to get creative, but you can find a way! My life changed for the better when I discovered the ESV Bible online has a "Listen" function. I set up my laptop so I can listen to a chapter at a time. I don't have any of these other devices, but I know moms that have the Bible on CD or on their iPad or reader. Even if you don't have these things, you can print out or photocopy chapters of the Bible at a time. I recommend writing verses on notecards and putting them around the house - this is great for memory work and meditation. Think small bites throughout the day. You may not feel like you have the brain power to tackle Romans or Isaiah right now, but you can benefit tremendously by reading Deuteronomy, the Psalms, Proverbs, a gospel, or a short epistle. For a while, I worked on reading Psalm 119 every day. Reading about David's love for God's law was rich food for my soul. Pick something small to read, and read it over and over again.
I do not remember where I read this, but one mom used her child's interruptions while she was reading to help them grow to love God's word. When a child came to her while she was reading, she would invite the child to sit with her and she would read aloud and talk about what she was reading with them. When they got antsy, they wriggled away. Let the words of God work in your soul AND your child.
4. Teach your children and grow with them.
I do not mean that you need to sign up to teach your child's Bible class at church. I mean, teach your children at home! Even if you have an infant, talk to your baby about who God is and all of the great things He has done. Go for a walk or just a simple backyard explore and show your tiny baby the marvelous things God created - trees, flowers, grass, sunshine, wind... Read Bible stories to them from the Bible. Read the Psalms and Proverbs to them. You have been given the task of teaching your child to know and love God. You will not have a better opportunity to teach a soul the gospel than you do with the children that you love and nurture from their first day of life. Talk to your baby and more than anything, talk to your baby about God. This is ultimately for the child's benefit, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised how much it helps you grow.
5. Sing hymns.
Colossians 3:16 - "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God."
Don't be self-conscious. Sing! Your baby doesn't care what you sound like. He will be soothed hearing your voice and how much better if it is a song for the Lord? Sing your favorite hymns, make up your own, sing while you give the baby a bath, or while your rock your baby to sleep. If you need to print out some lyrics, do, but don't worry about perfection, just sing! Sing with thankfulness to the Lord and use this time to worship Him. An older mother once encouraged me with the words, "You are doing holy work". Every mother is doing holy work and singing helps me find joy in the work.
I hope this has been an encouragement to you. I really, really know how hard this can be. Don't let the burden of guilt immobilize you, just what you can do and each day try to do a little better. Pray to the Lord for strength and wisdom. He can give you a spiritual feast in a time that was once famine. Ask and it shall be given...