By Joy Meekins
I have heard the Lord say to me “You’re a good mom.” That is invaluable. It has freed me from comparison, insecurity, and doubt. I don’t need the affirmation from others and can freely give it instead. Hearing those words fills a longing inside of me that does have serious doubts about parenting. This strength and confidence comes from something I have been practicing since our son was 3 months old – taking extended time alone with God to take a spiritual inventory of my child. This doesn’t solve the problems that I face daily but gives me security, confidence, and assurance to press on, with joy, most of the time.
A Mother’s Heart by Jean Fleming, chapter 6 “Getting in Step with God” is where my inspiration to schedule regular times alone with God came from. She shares how each child is unique and God has a plan for them. She spells out how to take a spiritual inventory of your child. List strengths, weaknesses (which can’t outnumber strengths), observations, and applications/goals. I aim to do this every 3 months. What did I have to apply for him for 3-6 months? Here’s the application the Lord gave me: Feed on demand, speak truth to him, make an identity list.
What I didn’t know was for the next 3 months he’d continue waking up every 2-3 hours. Everyone’s advice to me had to do with food. I just applied what the Lord revealed during my prayer and plan time. When I had this time with the Lord again before he turned 6 months, an application was to introduce solid food and nothing about on demand. We stopped feeding on demand and it worked out. He started sleeping though the night (after a few tries). What was irreplaceable for me was the direction, freedom from anxiety (am I doing the right thing?), and time to do other things (instead of trying and researching all the options). The other applications have been great too.
I prioritize these extended times because of how valuable they are to me, my husband, and my son. Not to mention the added benefit to the world around me. And I’ve taken this concept further. I also pray for my husband during this time. The application for my husband is often “Affirm him.” It was a bit weird at first to do this more often, but I just did it. And it’s getting much more natural. An Identity in Christ list has proved super helpful. Now I speak many of these things to my husband and son.
Yes, I know it sounds like one more thing to do, but you really can have extended times alone with God for a lifetime. Ask your husband, family member, another mother to swap turns, or a baby sitter to give you a few hours to do this once a quarter. The month I plan on doing this, I look at my Saturdays and pick one morning. I generally, go to a coffee shop with a Bible, notebook, and sometimes extra book/devotional and enjoy, cry, laugh, pray, and read. I generally start with me and get some good time with Jesus. Then I’ll do the inventory list for my son and husband. When I get to the application/goal part I pray “What goals do you have from my son?” Sometimes things come to mind right away. Other times it doesn’t, and I’ll read, pray, or wait some more. But, I believe the Lord will speak into this area and He does.
In Isaiah 30:18-21 the prophet tells us how the Lord longs to be with us. When we humble ourselves, and admit we need Him, He will teach and guide us. Spending time with Him praying over my son and taking a spiritual inventory as Jean Fleming suggests gives me the tools and confidence I need to mother well. I hope this idea is an encouragement to you as you mother your little ones.
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him .For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Isaiah 30:18-21