Sep 5, 2009

Spiritual Sustenance in times of Spiritual Scarcity

I think one of the first things that hit me hard when I became a mother, was my sudden lack of "me" time. I felt the loss most keenly in the area of Spirituality. As a single adult I loved to be able to go to those BYU devotionals, sometimes by myself, and take a notebook and just sit and soak in the spirit and write down the things that came to my heart. I loved to take my scriptures with me on a long walk, sit down in a quiet, beautiful place, and read and then write about what I read. These things made my life so peaceful, and I felt so spiritually fed.

When you become a mother, those long, drawn out away times suddenly dissappear. And the extra "hour in the middle of the day" you used to have for scripture study or to read that article in the Ensign that has been tugging at your mind all day, is now used (inevitably... you can try, but it always ends the same way) for napping.

I remember wondering, sometimes, why I even went to church at all, particularly when I have a child in that awkward "can run around and wreak havoc but still too small for nursery" age. I felt so spiritually bereft. I would try to catch a moment here and there to get some good scripture reading, but something more immediate (a spill, a bump, an insistent seven-year-old with a homework question) would inevitably interrupt.

I can usually get by on drowsy before-bed scripture reading and the snatches of spirit and lesson I end up being able to sit through on Sunday. But with these new changes, I have just felt so needy. I KNOW I need more than that. I need the Spirit in large doses right now, to help me through these changes and sustain me so that I can be a good mom, parenting with the Spirit. When I don't have the Spirit, I tend to get irritated more quickly, I tend to punish more readily instead of dealing with whatever complex issue underlies the conflict I am dealing with. I tend to shy away from clingy fingers and kids who nuzzle up to me every single time I sit down somewhere.

How do you get the spiritual sustenance you need when you have so many more, seemingly more immediate needs surrounding you? When you are the single most needed being in a household, and you've got six (including husband) who need a piece of your time and attention, how do you get that time to yourself?

A good question.

Lately, because of my need, I have been seeking creative solutions. I've been taking a little time in the morning to "sleep in" (I usually get up by 7:30, but my kids are up at 7 if not earlier). I tell the kids "mom is still sleeping." I get my scriptures and read as much as I want, until I feel like it is enough. Something about morning, as opposed to evening, scripture reading has really made me feel so much more sustained lately.

When I was going through another period of turmoil and upheaval, I would load Loli into the car and drive around with her, aimlessly, and pop LDS hymns tapes into my car's little tape player. That really helped me, then, but right now I can't feasibly load up all five kids, drive around for an hour for no reason, and let's face it. I wouldnt' be able to hear much of the hymns even if I could. I have too many kids now.

My solution, lately, has been to go to and download MP3 files of conference talks. I put them on my MP3 player, put the player in my apron pocket, snake the headphones up underneath the apron so they won't get wet, and listen to Jeffrey R Holland or Henry B Eyering or Deiter F. Uchtdorf or Margaret S Lifferth or Julie B Beck while I do my dishes, and I continue to listen (sometimes taking an earphone out to answer a question or deal with an "imminent crisis") as I do the rest of my morning cleaning routine. Yes, I get interrupted. But having those talks playing in my ear, in the background, for a good portion of the morning (and I can turn them UP if I have a whimpering child who I've already said "no" to... a lot less tempting that way to send them to the time-out bench) has really, really saved me lately.

Anyway, I thought I'd pass this along because I know I'm not the only one who struggles with this, and I thought these suggestions might help some of you. It really makes such a difference in my day. I'm grateful for the gospel and our church leaders. My testimony grows in leaps and bounds when I can see the difference the Spirit really makes in my life.


Putz said...

ss ss ssss or s s s s real catchy

Kristie said...

I used to put the conference cds in the car and listen to them as we went places we needed to go.

Anonymous said...

So...the ticker...did I totally miss an annoucement?

NoSurfGirl said...

NOpe, you didn't miss it. I'm not all big on a big announcement/making a big deal of it but we're expecting, due March 19th. We're very happy. It's kind of funny because I first felt morning sickness on the day we left for Ethiopia.

Anonymous said...