By Lisa Blanco
I fed Adley for the last time before going to sleep, hoping she’d allow me to get at least a good cat nap before she needed me again, but I think a cat would have slept better than me. Adley woke up at midnight, 2:15 and 4:45. After the last feeding, I gently laid her back down, and then my 5am alarm went off. I pushed the snooze button and started to walk back to bed. I stood at the doorway, very tempted to lay back on that pillow. I knew things ran much smoother when I got up before the children, but I was also exhausted. I gave it another minute of thought, then prayed for help and walked downstairs to start the blessed coffee.
As I poured the coffee into the cup, I poured all my trust in there with it. “As long as I get a few cups of it, I can gather myself and be patient with the children today.”
I didn’t fully realize I had directed this thought towards an unknown pagan god of coffee as I sat down on the couch to pray to the one true Living God and read his word, (thank God for his patience).
I opened my Bible and began to read a little with tired eyes. I was just making my way into a passage and ready to gain strength for the day when the baby monitor crackled. Sure enough, Adley began to cry. I waited and waited, but she did not stop. Before I made the climb up the stairs, my head fell into my hands and I prayed one last prayer before my time alone was done:
“Lord, I tried. I want to rise early and meet with you before my day begins. I want to hear from you and read and pray before my kids wake up. I have done everything I can to make this happen, and yet you have allowed my baby to wake again and it has interuppted my time with you. It’s your power that causes them to sleep and to awaken them, so why right now? How am I supposed to commune with you in this long season of busy life?”
I lifted my head, feeling more tired than before. The other monitor lit up as a voice loudly cried, “Mommy I have to poo poo!”
This is a picture of what my nights and the early hours of the morning can look like. For a long time I have struggled with joy and thankfulness that God calls me to as his child. I love my children tremendously; they are deeply precious to me. But what I struggled with is feeling (rather believing the lie) that God cuts me short in my time with him, or for some reason that it seems he doesn’t provide the time. I believed that my only time to hear from God and receive help and wisdom was before my children woke up. I thought my only hope for being kind and patient with my children was if I had read my Bible, put the dishes away, and put some kind of order to our downstairs before they came down. And if none of these were able to happen? You could just forget any kindness and gentleness (or any fruits of the spirit really) from me.
But over the last month The Lord has revealed all the ugly that has been going on in my heart. It sounds strange, especially after reading this, how obvious it should all seem, but I was blind to how much I really have been relying on my own strength to do what God has called me to do.
When I read Colossians 3 and how God calls us to walk and talk like a child of God with patience and gentleness and to be thankful, I don’t have to feel burdened. I used to, but God is rescuing me. Because if I read the chapter before, I’ll find Colossians 2:14 tells me that God has canceled the record of debt I owe by nailing it to the cross of his Son. And even further back in Colossians 1: 20 we are told that Christ’s work on the cross not only cancels the debt we owe for sin, but then he also presents us holy and blameless before God. So God isn’t holding a record against me of all the times I have failed with my children (or put my trust in the pagan god of coffee); he’s erased it and is conforming me into the image of his Son. I am therefore free to pursue gentleness and patience with my kids and start over in repentance again and again–not burdened to pursue it, but free.
While rising early before the children is still my goal each day, God has shown me that it’s not where my hope lies, and it’s not the only time he wants to commune with me. It’s not only the quiet, alone times he wants to talk to me, make me like Jesus, and bring to mind his Word so that I might fight sin. He isn’t just the God of help for early morning times of trouble, but the God who is our very present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).
I have found that it’s also in the moments when the baby rises early that the Spirit asks me: Now, will you trust that The Lord will sustain you even if your plans did not pan out? Will you trust he’s making you look more like Jesus by sacrificing your time alone to care for these children? Will you trust that you can still obey and walk in patience even without the planned time of reading? Yes, it’s those times I can serve The Lord with gladness. (Psalm 100:2)
I have found that God is making me more like his Son and communing with me not just before my kids refuse to listen, but when I’m actually swimming IN the pool (or is it more like a dirty, murky lake?) of disobedience from them, and they have fought hard against my instruction for hours, and I have done everything in my power to warn them: “Listen to me! We don’t have to drown today! Listen to my instruction! Listen quickly!” It’s in those waters God has shown me 2 Thessalonians 3:5-
“May God direct your hearts to the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ.”
That has been a life-giving verse for me when I feel I’m drowning in the murky lake of disobedience inside the walls of my house, alone, when no one else can see but The Lord. And that verse quickly helps me fight in two ways:
1. The Lord loves both my children and me deeply, so my heart can quickly reach for thankfulness.
2. Jesus is steadfast and never runs out of patience and love towards those for whom he laid down his life.
So I don’t have to throw in the towel, because Jesus never does.