One of the resolutions Matt and I set for each other is to get in the Word every morning before Matt goes to work. We were GREAT at this when we first got married, but boy did we slip and put it on the back burner after my Papa died in November 2020. Plus, having a newborn made it 10x harder to make that happen. Sleep became a #1 priority over waking up early with Matt and spending time with God.
So now, our bedtime is 9:30 PM (I know, so lame) and we are awake at 4:30 AM. I make coffee, Matt prepares our lunches, and then we sit and read the Word together. We are using the Reading the Bible in a Year outline that Naomi Paper Company outlines in her 2022 planner that I use every day. Then Judah wakes up around 5:15-5:30 AM and Matt is off to work.
It's hard to admit, but I've been having a hard time getting back into a regular Bible study. I think I still have the expectation that my Bible studies will be uninterrupted, with lots of cross-referencing and deep meaning discoveries... The thing is that just don't have the time for that right now. The most Matt and I seem to get in is read the assigned scripture, talk about it, and pray. I'm constantly interrupted by Judah about to crawl into something he shouldn't, there's piles of laundry and dishes to be done, a husband that needs quality time when he's home, and my goodness I need SLEEP. I've been struggling to not feel that this simple routine is enough. "Why can't I seem achieve what I want like I did before?"
If you're a parent you probably understand this. Those kids, the chores, and the extra chaos that comes with it takes up so much of our time and energy. By the time we get a quiet moment all we want to do is be mindless watching TV or go to sleep. I definitely wasn't prepared for how much 1 kid would drain me.
During those 2am feedings when all is quiet and I'm awake in a dark nursery I find myself talking to God in my head. It's during these moments like this that I find God speaks to me the most. I ask him questions, replay moments from the day, speculate reasons why and how God had my life change so much and so fast, and process the hard truths He leads me to conclude.
Here's what God and I talked about the other day about my Bible study habits:
My old Bible study habits did not make me closer to God or a better disciple. If I believed it did, then that makes my faith works-based.
My relationship with God can and will look different each season of life. My previous season of singleness and soberness allowed me a greater amount of time to ask hard questions concerning theology and dig deep into Scripture. That season allowed me to set a strong foundation for my faith in this current season.
Just because I'm not as deep in the Word does not mean God is far away. In fact, He strangely feels closer to me than ever.
Allow me to explain.
There are moments as a mother of a baby that make my blow my mind when it comes to how much God loves me. For example, there are times during a car ride that Judah will SCREAM because he hates being in his car seat. All he wants is to crawl around and explore his surroundings, not be stuck sitting in a car. I try to reassure him in a sweet, sing-song voice "Judah! Why all of the crying? We're almost there! Should we sing songs while we drive? 'Jesus loves me this I know...'" But of course, he kept screaming and protesting the entire journey.
When I processed this moment during a late night of holding him in the dark it hit me:
In my relationship with God, He is the driver and I am Judah. I don't like what's going on in my life, it's not what I want and I don't understand why I'm so uncomfortable, but God is taking me somewhere new. Since I'm a "baby" I can't understand that. God will reassure me in His Word that there's no need to cry, He is taking me somewhere He knows I will love! He offers to participate in the journey with me in song and conversation, but in return I protest more.
I could go on and on sharing parenting moments I've experienced where my understanding of God goes off like a lightbulb over my head. I'll save that for another time.
My point here is this: I don't know if my faith could have gotten any deeper if I had stayed single. I was extremely selfish and my understanding was so limited. Becoming a parent has yes, changed everything, but my faith especially has humbled me. I find myself more dependent on God than ever before.
I'm so grateful for Judah, not just because he's a cute baby and brings a lot of joy. But because the responsibility and privilege of being his mother has refined me and my relationship with God in ways I didn't realize were possible.
I laugh to myself when I look back at 2019-2020, I LOVED the song "Refiner" by Maverick City Music and would sing it all of the time. It turned into a prayer for me:
"I want to be tried by fire, purified. Take whatever you desire, LORD, here's my life!"
This is just another piece of proof to me that God answers my prayers, often in ways I wasn't expecting.
So what does that Bible study time look like now? I may not have the uninterrupted time every day to spend an hour in the Word, but that doesn't mean I should give up and not bother trying!
Matt and I have decided that our Bible study time looks like this, and maybe you and your spouse can apply this to your lives too:
We need to be in the Word TOGETHER. When you do a study WITH your spouse it: A) gives you an opportunity for quality time together and with God B) it brings accountability to be faithful every day and C) allows you to share observations and insight with each other, deepening your understanding together.
We need to follow a PLAN. We decided to follow the Bible in a Year Plan outlined by my planner that Naomi Paper Company put together. (Go buy one, it's made so well and will keep you orgainized!) It's too easy to put your study aside when you don't have something telling you what to do and what to expect. So look up options, ask others what they do, look up devotional books, or go to the YouVersion Bible App and sign up for one of their Bible plans (they're free!!).
Our study needs to be done first thing in the morning. For us, this is the best time since our day jobs take up most of our day, plus meetings/appointments/rehearsals can change times each weeknight. Besides, starting your day off in the Word can really set the tone for the day. It's the first thing on your minds and can influence how you interact with co-workers and each other the remainder of the day.
Lastly, always finish off with a prayer. Use the scripture you read to give you insight on what to pray for. Pray for your spouse, your family, your day ahead of you, the woman that checked you out for your groceries the day before, the list can be endless. Again, it starts your day strong thinking of others instead of yourself.
I hope this post was encouraging for you today. Please feel free to email me if you want to discuss this further or just need encouragement. Love and blessings to you through our Savior, Jesus.