Fitting in Spiritual Disciplines When You Work Outside the Home (or have other time constraints) – Hf #145
Getting into smooth and predictable routines can feel so wonderful. But what happens when we are suddenly thrown out of those routines and there are other factors that we can’t control (i.e. work or a boss, school schedules, chronic illnesses or more)? How do we connect with the Lord when things feel so out of our control and out of the ordinary? Listen in today as we discuss this problem:
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Developing a routine when it’s impossible to have a routine
“I have a question that I hope you (or one of your contributors) will be able to address. I’m the sort of person who thrives with routine and predictability, meaning the most challenging aspect of parenting has often been the UNpredictability and ever-changing seasons of life! For the past several months, my 2.5 year old has gotten up at approximately the same time everyday and I’ve been able to develop a really strong morning routine before she wakes. I found my days felt so much better (at the encouragement of your podcasts!) when I could start my day with prayer/study, some light exercise, and getting ready for work. BUT suddenly the past few weeks my daughter has started waking a solid hour earlier, usually between 5:45 and 6am. Suddenly my precious morning routine has flown out the window and I am struggling to adjust! I just don’t know how to find a new equilibrium now that I’ve gotten so used to having that time to myself. I do realize I could wake up another hour earlier but I was doing good to get my tired self out of bed at 6am, I truly cannot fathom getting up at 5am. On your podcast you’ve suggested finding ways to incorporate these things (reading the bible, etc.) in other parts of my day, but I honestly think that only works for women who don’t work outside the home. Anyways, I would really appreciate some input into how I can adjust, both my actual routine but also (and maybe more importantly) my attitude and expectations.”
Parenting is continually adapting to each new season
Oh Megan, I can so identify. You work hard and are diligent about setting up a new routine and it works so smoothly for a while but then your schedule, season of life, or child changes and WHAM, that smooth routine not longer works very smoothly.
In my very limited experience so far as a mom, that’s one thing that I’ve learned over and over: there is no normal routine that stays established very long with young kids. Each new week or month can bring with it a new nap time, a teething toddler, waking up in the middle of the night, etc.
And for those listening who don’t have young kids, there are so many different circumstances we can find ourselves in that do the same thing: chronic illnesses, a sick or aging parent, difficulty with schooling or homeschool, a difficult boss, a changing work season, a spouse who travels for work, etc. The list could go on and on.
God knows and sees the season you are currently in
God knows and he sees the toddler who is waking up bright and early! He knows the routine is getting thrown off and maybe he’s asking you to adapt to that and pivot. Maybe he’s asking you to bring that toddler into the morning routine (and possibly simplify it). And ultimately, he’s asking you to trust Him in the process.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
So as tough as it is (and I’m telling this to myself) when the routines and seasons are not going the way we want, God has a plan in that and we need to turn and give thanks to God within that. Even when we don’t understand or we fight tooth and nail to change it!
Getting Creative with Your Spiritual Disciplines
In previous episodes I’ve mentioned that if you can’t do your Bible reading and prayer in the morning like you desire, then fit it in other times. But Megan, you mention that you think that only works for those who stay home full time.
And I totally disagree with that! It might be difficult to adjust to and it will probably look different than you want, but you absolutely can use different pockets of time to study. But the key is: it might not look exactly like you want it to right now. And that’s where the trust comes in – God knows the season you are in!
The first time I “read” the Bible cover to cover, from Genesis to Revelation, was on my commute to work when Jason and I were first married. I had an early commute, there was no way this non-early bird was going to manage getting up even earlier to read my Bible before leaving for work. So I got the Bible on CD (thankfully we have FREE and easy access now on our phones) and listened through it on my morning commute. Here’s the Bible app I use and love.
I would also use the quiet time in the car to pray. Some of my deepest pray time was and still is when I’m driving.
Do you have a lunch break? Or a 10-15 minute break? Use that time to bring out your Bible and do your study. When I was working full time, my lunch break was a highlight in my day when I would bring a book or my Bible to do study!
And sometimes the study doesn’t look at all like we thought. My FAVORITE time and place to study in this season is an hour before the kids get up, with coffee in my hand, and a focused mind. However, I am dealing with chronic fatigue and some very exhausting hormonal issues. It’s been months since I got up before the kids by any significant amount of time to study.
My study time as (mostly) moved to before bed. It’s not ideal and some nights I am exhausted. But it’s also when and where it fits in most days. But God knows the sickness I am dealing with. He sees me and he’s going to meet me where I’m at. The same with you Megan, and everyone else listening!
And lastly, remember the POINT of our Spiritual Disciplines
This is where I get caught too often: I forget the root and the reason of my spiritual disciplines. I turn my Bible reading and prayer into something about ME. I am disciplining myself to read more, I am making sure to do my study, I feel encouraged and built up when reading, I have been more consistent with prayer, etc etc etc.
Do you notice that all of those statements (and many more that I think of throughout the day) all revolve around ME. Myself. I. I am my relationship with God about MYSELF.
Instead, the relationship needs to be about GOD. What is GOD asking of me in this season? How is GOD using this more difficult time to conform me to His image? How can I bring GLORY to GOD in this season and with the time He has given me?
I want to discipline myself to study God’s Word, pray diligently, and confirm myself to His image….but it’s all ultimately for GOD’S GLORY and not my own. This is important for me to remember.
Honestly, it’s easy to make an idol out of my spiritual disciples when I focus too much on the form, the time, the length, and the outcome. Instead, I need to rely on God and His strength, especially when things don’t turn out the way that I want.
Links & Resources:
- Getting back on track with spiritual disciplines
- Introducing my brand new spiritual disciplines notebooks
- Interview with Donald Whitney on Spiritual Disciplines
- Revamping Your Spiritual Disciplines
- Foundations for Spiritual Growth for the Busy Homemaker
- How to study the Bible with both our hearts and our minds
- My simple Bible reading plan for deeper study
- Going deeper with Bible study when you have no time
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