When I became a stay-at-home mama, my whole world was turned upside down. Rather abruptly, I entered a season of life that was completely unexpected. I knew in my heart that I was doing the right thing, but that didn't make it easy. Now that I am well into this journey I can give a little spoiler that I didn't have access to at the time - God had big plans for me in those early years at home. More importantly, He had big plans for US. Me and my Heavenly Father were about to have a whole lot more time together. Much of that time was me crying out in desperation, depression and overwhelming loneliness. And yet, I consider it one of the most beautiful seasons of my life.
During those early years at home with Aiden, I was given the gift of time to really dig deep. I say given... though it didn't really feel like a gentle gift at the time. It was more like a desperate attempt to find some sense of purpose when I felt like I had lost so much of my identity. It certainly wasn't something I found on my own, either. Instead, I connected with the most amazing community of women to help me walk through this season. And to this day I have never met a single one of them in person. Yet they are some of the most important people God has ever brought into my life.
Some of the women I connected with were mentors who had walked the same road and come out on the other side. Some were fellow new mamas who were "in the trenches" and struggling in similar ways. Each one touched my heart and became a dear sister in Christ. As these women encouraged me to turn to God's Word for direction and comfort, I found such a great desire to really study and just embrace this amazing gift. I didn't know exactly what I was doing, but I knew that life was richer when I was making time to sit down with my Bible. The study part came more easily to me. And yet, I still struggled with prayer.
It is no secret to anyone who knows me well that I tend to set unreal expectations for both myself and the people around me. This is one of my least favorite things about myself, and something I have been working on especially since becoming a mother. I do recognize it, though. And I think that in many ways I had a very unreal expectation for what a "good" prayer life was when I first began. I will even share a little confession with you to illustrate.
When I decided to start using the S.O.A.P. method to study God's Word, I would sit down each day and faithfully work through those first three letters.
- "S" - I loved writing the Word, and found that it helped me to focus more deeply.
- "O" - my observations were often lengthy sections of definitions and research and I loved digging in to the Word in different ways.
- "A" - I would often marvel at how God had shown me exactly what I needed for where I was, and loved seeing how His Word applied to my current season of life.
You can see all of this if you look back through my journals. You will also likely notice something else... a whole bunch of blank or missing "P" entries. I wasn't used to writing my prayers, and for some reason I struggled with this part. Now, I will say that often I would just spend so much time on the first 3 that by the time I got to the prayer section there was a crying baby needing my attention. I often rationalized that the prayer part of things could happen while my hands were otherwise occupied. This was, of course, true. I don't think it was the full story, however. I also still wish I had recorded more of my prayers from those early days.
Over the next 30 days, I hope to share a lot more about what I have learned since those days of skipping out on writing my prayers. In fact, I have chosen to start this series with that side of my prayer journey. I have Week 1 set aside for the theme of "Praying on Paper." I mentioned in my last post that I much prefer writing to talking, and so learning to write my prayers out definitely was an opportunity for me to bridge that gap as I learned more about this part of my relationship with my Creator. I am no expert in any of this. I am still just a girl (although a bit older now), with a blog (not the same blog and I am quite rusty at this whole blogging thing after long absences), and a desire to connect (and maybe the opportunity to give back a bit and be that mom who is on the other side of the preschool years and still standing...)
My thoughts are not those of a trained theologian, or a great scholar. They are just my own experiences, and how I have come to know my Savior on a deeper level over time. I pray that anything I write might serve my King and bring Him glory. And that the thread that connects all of it would be the grace of God that brings us to Him and covers all of our stumbling as we grow and learn. It isn't about me and what I do. It is all about Him and what He has already done. Thanks be to God!