In my mind, my quiet time is, well, quiet. It involves a cup of coffee, an open journal, an inspiring passage. Morning sunlight streams through the window to the page, providing physical illumination even as I bask in spiritual illumination. I sit in the presence of God Almighty and I am changed, refreshed, renewed, ready to tackle whatever lies before me. In my mind, my quiet time looks just like all those sepia-filtered photos on Instagram – those with the beautiful journal, the cute mug, the open bible. The ones with hashtags like #SoakingInTheWord and #SweetTimeWithJesus and #StartingMyDayRight.
That’s what it looks like in my mind, though I’m not sure how an image so far removed from my reality persists. I’ve always struggled to maintain the discipline of a regular bible study, found it difficult to set aside time for focused prayer and devotional reading. My mind wanders. I get distracted. I forget to set my alarm. Or, in recent months: I have a toddler.
(An aside: the words, “I have a toddler” should qualify as an explanation for any lack or failing in a parent’s life. I’m late to church. I have a toddler. It takes me three days to do one load of laundry. I have a toddler. I ate a bowl of ice cream for dinner. I have a toddler. And so on.)
I have a toddler. Which might normally be enough for this sinful, lazy mama to forego personal bible study altogether, except that I have committed to participating in BSF this year, have committed to studying Revelation, to completing the daily assigned readings and questions. Thank God – literally, I do – for such things to hold me accountable.
Most mornings, I choose to work on my lesson while Katie is awake. Like so many decisions, this one has many reasons for it, some good – I want to model bible study for her, in the hopes that she someday has an easier time of it than I do, and I read the scripture passages aloud to her as she plays, in the hopes that the words will sink deep – and some not so good – waking up early has never been easy for me, and I prefer to reserve nap time for recreational reading or for writing.
I work on my lesson while Katie is awake, so, while my imagination conjures up a scene like the one pictured above, reality looks something like this:
Reality involves a little girl climbing into my lap, closing my bible, grabbing my pen as I’m trying to write. It involves distraction and interruption and derailed trains of thought. It involves me saying, “Mama’s pen doesn’t belong in your mouth,” and “If you climb on the table, Mama will put you on the floor,” and “Sweetheart, Mama is trying to read that paper.”
And in the midst of this chaos, I’m realizing: it’s enough. It is. In this place in life, in this season, I mold my days in a way that fits my personality, fits my family, fits our needs for right now. I listen to inspirational podcasts. I sing hymns to her as she goes to sleep. I journal when I can. I read a verse here, a verse there throughout my day. And I have my not-so-quiet time with a toddler in my lap, or on my back, or crawling around on the floor next to me, or some combination of the three.
And it’s enough. No. It’s more than enough. It’s good.