When my first son was born, I lamented to my husband that I had lost the cadence in my days to do the things that made me feel like a whole person, things that made me feel alive: art, reading, running, and prayer. He suggested creating some space for myself in the morning by trying to wake up before the baby. Naturally, I was defensive and indignant, given I was barely getting enough sleep as is. Why on earth would I give up precious sleep?
A few years later, I realized that every attempt I made to squeeze important aspects of my life into a busy, demanding day with then another child underfoot, wasn’t cutting it. I simply could not get into a rhythm and stick to it. So finally I took on the challenge to wake up before my little ones. Within the first couple weeks I knew I was hooked. I realized I was happy to see my kids when they woke up in the morning. My children were no longer my alarm clock; I was waking up on my own terms.
Parenting feels like anything but living life on your own terms, doesn’t it? From the moment we wake up until the moment we sink into bed at night, it can feel as though someone or something else is dictating our days. We immediately jump into a service-oriented role when we wake up in the morning. In a flurry, we change diapers, put cereal on the table, find clothes and shoes (why is it so hard to find both shoes?!) and try to chug a lukewarm cup of coffee in the process. It is difficult to find space in the small margins of the day to be with our Creator, to enjoy our hobbies or simply sit in silence in order to decompress. I have three kids under the age of five and I am a big proponent of using a few moments to stare into space!
I became addicted to early mornings and this is a pretty significant statement for a night owl. The mornings have become sacred to me because I can clear my head before the chaos of life fills it up. It is a struggle to feel whole when so much of our lives as parents is making sure our dependents are taken care of first. We’ve all heard flight attendants instruct passengers to first place the emergency air mask on themselves before helping others. For many years, I thought that sounded so selfish, unheroic. Now that I’m a mom, the strategy makes a bit more sense. When I don’t create space in my day to be filled with the Spirit, to feel like a unique creation with gifts and purpose, it’s much like running around all day holding my breath. I’m hoping I have enough air to last me until bedtime when I gasp, collapse, and do it all over again the next day.
Creating space doesn’t necessarily mean becoming a morning person. Mornings are not always the best time for some to create space. Maybe your child is an early riser, a really early riser, and this feels like an impossibility. Maybe the best space is in the afternoon during your lunch break when you can go for a walk, put the phone on silent, breathe deeply, and talk to God. Maybe it’s late at night when your creative juices are flowing and you can pour your heart out in writing, conversation, or art work.
There have been weeks in my life filled with a lack of “morning space” when I just can’t seem to get back on track. In fact, I’m in a season of life right now that I’m struggling to find this space. For many of us, it will be tough to create that space, but those spaces are holy. In those times we glorify God by preserving the space that makes each of us His unique image bearer, and we receive His Spirit to fortify us for the challenges ahead.
Creating boundaries and space can allow parents to be more dimensional parents, parents that are not as shriveled up and out of breath. It can set a good example for our children in understanding what it means to create space for themselves as well. Time to rest, time to think about the day before or after, time to play, read, and nurture the unique image bearing qualities God has given each of us. Space allows us to believe that God is in control of time and that the world will not end if we pause. Psalm 16 says, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.” There is God-given rest built into this scripture. A yearning for us to yield to Him who holds each day.
There are many days that these rhythms do not align. There are days when children are sick, spouses are traveling for work, you have a headache or the neighbor’s dog barked all night. There is grace in those off-kilter days, an abundance of it. The good news is that He is eagerly waiting each day to receive us as we are in that space.
Sarah Crouch attends Potomac Yard Campus with her husband and three children, Tennyson (4), Adelaide (3), and Beckett (7 months). Motherhood has given new meaning to the phrase, “Don’t cry over spilled milk”, but she wouldn’t have any either way. Each day has been both humbling and joy-filled.