Being a mum to a toddler and a baby means you rarely have any time for yourself, much less for devotions, sermons, Christian literature, and the like. Or so I thought.
Three nights in a row, I stayed up until wee hours of the morning to finish a drama series a friend recommended. On the morning of the fourth, my husband woke up to a very grumpy wife, and my kids woke up to a snappy mother. I had finished the drama, receiving mild satisfaction from a romantic ending. But there was no coffee for my husband that morning, and the children had to walk on eggshells because every little thing they did annoyed me in my tiredness.
Later that afternoon, while putting the baby to sleep, the words of Psalm 86, hung up in a frame in the kids’ room, hit me like a bullet train. Verse 11 reads,
Teach me your way, LORD,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
These words are part of baby Nathan’s life verse. We chose it because he was born with a hole in his heart, and so we pray this verse over him every day. For the hole to close naturally, for it not to affect his health or physical growth, as well as for his spiritual life—that he grows up fearing the Lord with his whole heart and being. We do this religiously day after day, in part because of the fear we have about possible heart surgery, but more so because this is something only God can do.
As I read those words over and over again with my baby in my arms, guilt swept over me. Why is it that I could be so driven to pray over a physical hole in the heart, but found it so easy to overlook my own emotionally divided heart?
For three whole nights, I willingly relinquished my wife and mum duties to pursue a fictitious drama. At the same time, however, I lament to girlfriends how motherhood has made consistent, committed spiritual disciplines so hard. No time to read the Bible, but time enough to scroll through social media. No time to sit through a sermon, but happily watching one episode after another of a drama which has zero bearing on my immediate life or eternal destiny.
Loving God wholeheartedly should easily translate into loving my husband better and being more patient with my young children. Loving God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, does not at all contradict my daily duties of cooking, cleaning, writing, and working. But the temporal obsession with a drama did. It distracted me from my responsibilities as a wife, as a mother, as a worker accountable to God. Most importantly, it took my eyes off Christ, my first love.
The world screams for our attention in every possible way, perhaps now more than ever before. Pop-up ads on our web browsers, prompters on our social media feed, and promotions constantly clogging up our emails. While the secular world tells us to “tap here”, “read more” and so on, no internet phishing or social media profiling can know us better than the One who created us for His specific purposes and glory. No wonder Deuteronomy 6:5 tells us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind. It is only in Him that we can find true fulfillment and eternal satisfaction.
Thankfully, through this episode, I am learning to guard my time with the Lord more intentionally. I have removed Facebook and drama apps from my phone, so as to avoid being lured in. I also set an alarm on my phone to remind me each day to read God’s word. My toddler helps remind me to have daily devotion and prayer times every night. My husband often spends the evening working on sermon preparations and Bible studies until late, and this inspires me to do the same. I also try to set aside an early morning each week to hear a sermon online, since I have to be with Nathan during church hours. It has only been a month of success thus far, but I pray these will continue. Not only for my sake, but so that my children will seek to do the same.
Don’t get me wrong, I have not given up entirely on “pleasures”. Instead, I am seeking to honor God by pursuing them in moderation and with greater variety. Watching dramas, but also reading, exercising, listening to music, and so on. Rather than allowing myself to be sucked into that same black hole again, I have enlisted the help of godly girlfriends to keep me accountable. I have asked them to check in on me now and then, recognizing that I cannot and will not be able to triumph on my own.
Now, each time I pray for Nathan’s heart condition, I remember also to pray for mine—one that is quick to wander, one that is oh-so-susceptible to temptation. That the Lord would also give me an undivided heart! Because it is only by the Holy Spirit’s aid that I can love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.