Dear Mom: Are you just plain tired? Do you struggle with hearing God on a daily basis because life is just too LOUD?
How do you “practice the presence of God”, or feel God, in your daily life of laundry and cooking and cleaning and working? Does God feel like something else on your to-do list?
I get it. And I recently read the most encouraging little book from Megan LaFollett. She took the letters that Brother Lawrence, a 17th century monk, wrote, and then wrote her own in response to modern day moms. And they’re seriously awesome–I highly recommend it as a devotional book (plus, you can get a chapter for free here)!
If you’re looking for a new devotional book for 2018, this would be my #1 choice.
I was really moved by one of the letters in particular, and I asked Megan if I could run it today, in the hopes that it would encourage you, too.
As a grad-student mom, as a stay-at-home mom, as a work-from-home mom, and as a part-time office mom…I speak from experience that the idea of regular spiritual practices seems at best a fairytale and at worst a source of guilt and failure.
Prayer, silence, solitude, fasting…
I can’t even use the bathroom unattended by need and noise.
This is where the monks have got a distinct advantage!
Praise God that He seeks us in the noise, because I can’t find the volume button.
Jesus showed us how to live—but he did not, does not, expect the ministry of a mother to look like the ministry of a first-century single, childless rabbi.
God gives us rest. He commands us to love Him and love one another, and to make disciples as we go. He came to set you FREE from sin—and free, oh-so free, from condemnation.
The classic spiritual practices can help us see, touch, hear, and understand God more.
When they are done in the power of the Holy Spirit, out of a heart of obedience and a desire to seek God’s face.
They are meant as a gift, a set of tools.
If a tool isn’t doing the work it is intended for, if it is rubbing your hands raw, you should put it down.
Tools—spiritual habits—are meant to aid you, not harm you.
[SIDEBAR: Yes, it takes discipline to establish a spiritual habit, and you may need to use a tool for a period of time to learn to use it well and build callouses. Pushing hard into it can lead to transformational practices. To learn more about spiritual disciplines, visit www.practicethepresence/habits.]
Nothing—not noise, chaos, sibling arguments over imaginary worlds, or sleep deprivation—can separate you from the love of God.
Check your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you if trying to fit a particular spiritual habit into your current stage of life and ministry is actually keeping you from experiencing the presence of God. Fight for it. Don’t let the practice get in the way of the point of that practice.
I can’t close this letter without making a clear statement about the ministry of motherhood.
The most important disciples in your life are your children.
Period. But in my experience of American Christian culture, there are two widespread lies about parenting that you need to guard against.
Lie #1: You are responsible for raising little kingdom-builders.
Thank God, the salvation of my children does not fall to me. Never does Jesus say, MAKE the little children look like me. He says to bring the little children to him. Let them come to him.
Just like you, your amazing, incredible, and beloved child will make choices dishonoring to God (and to you). You cannot bear their guilt. Jesus does that. Don’t dishonor him by trying to take his place on the cross.
Lie #2: No one will argue that a 21st century mom can live a life similar to the daily reality of a 17th century monk in Paris, much less a carpenter’s son in first century Israel. But you will hear the claim that there is one way to live your life as a mother raising children in a godly manner.
The exact details will differ depending on your community, but I dare you to write out what the “ideal” mother looks like in your church.
It is probably quite lovely.
It is definitely crushing the spirit of at least a portion of the women trying to fit that ideal. If not all of them.
You have a unique set of natural strengths, spiritual gifts, and personality traits. Only because God is so astoundingly vast can each of us be a completely one-of-a-kind reflection of His image. Every individual who has ever been born, if you add us all together, even that many reflections of God can’t come close to His full image!
God wants you to be fully alive.
You can minister to your family and never bake a cupcake.
You can raise your children and show them Jesus without ever doing the laundry!
Heresy, you say?
Sure, you may have to do the laundry and clean the toilets because of your circumstances in life. And the good and excellent news I have for you (and me) is that God is there in the laundry room and when you’re wearing the yellow rubber gloves and whenever you change the baby’s diaper. Oh, He is THERE.
My dear sister, what I’m saying is if you are exercising your strengths in a calling that happens to create the circumstance that you pay someone else to be there, you can still be ministering to your “first” disciples. God is there too.
Where the noise overwhelms, and practice seems impossible, He is present.
Isn’t that encouraging? Pick up your copy of The Practice of the Presence of God for Modern Day Moms, or download a free chapter!