I’ve never been a super spontaneous person. I’m more of a “make a list and check it twice” type person. Before I got married, I had almost every day planned out, and considered it a wild night when I went out after 8 pm. After getting married, it felt like a personal challenge to merge two individual schedules into one, smooth timeline. And then we had a baby. I thought I was a planner before, but suddenly every moment of my day had to be perfectly mapped out between nursing, pumping, working, cleaning, eating, diaper changing, and—when the stars aligned—sleeping.
I’ve been in that survival planning mode for almost two years, and even though our lives have slowed down, I still sometimes feel like I’m forgetting something. On car rides home from work, I have to verbally go through the to-do list with my husband: We will get home (check), you fill up the diaper bag with juice and snacks (check), I will do her diaper and change her clothes (check), then we can run to the store (check), and stop by and say hi to your mom on the way back (check).
I spend so much time planning my day, that when my plans are interrupted, it usually leads to anger and frustration. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for fun, spontaneous play dates. It also doesn’t leave a lot of room for me to have one on one time with Jesus. I was convicted about that lack of time when our daughter was about a year old. I realized that I had to fight for that time, so I scheduled it into our daily routine.
After a few months of being refilled and restored, my coveted alone time took a hit. My daughter would seek me out, screaming for me, or my husband would need to run an unexpected errand leaving her with me, and I would get so frustrated. I found myself throwing up my hands and calling out in exasperation, “I’m trying to spend time with you! I’ve tried to protect this time, but clearly this child that I’ve birthed has other plans.” And gently, so gently, the response: Why are you keeping her from me?
I want to be very clear that there is nothing wrong with expectantly awaiting that alone time with our Father. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be in the presence of God, but there needs to be flexibility in what that time might look like.
My alone time with God had become an idol to me. I turned to anger when it was interrupted. The Spirit impressed on my heart that I couldn’t show my daughter what a relationship with the Lord looked like if I only had real relationship with Him when I was alone.
So what does it look like to protect your time with God while still being flexible?
- Remember that your location is not as important as His presence. God is not confined to one specific room or one specific time. If something unexpected comes up, instead of letting that anger you, remind yourself that He is always waiting and willing to speak with you.
- Remember that your solitude is not as important as His grace. There are absolutely reasons to be alone with God and to seek that private time with Him, but it becomes a problem when you react in anger if someone interrupts you. If someone unexpectedly walks in, address them with the grace you are also seeking. And if it’s your child, invite them in. Show them what it looks like to spend time with the one person who will always comfort them, love them, and cherish them.
As parents, we aren’t perfect, and we shouldn’t expect to be. No amount of planning, organizing, or scheduling is going to allow us to be there every single time our child needs us, so what could be more important than introducing them to someone who can be? I love my one-on-one time with Jesus, but I am also learning to treasure my two-on-one time when I can watch my daughter fall in love with Him, too.
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. – Proverbs 22:6