‘ Fight the good fight of the faith.Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.’ 1 Timothy 6:12
Recent years, a number of young mothers shared with me their struggles over their lack of spiritual support and a lack of time to commune with God due to their lil ones.
The weariness and intensity of caring for a newborn/ toddler were taking a toll on their physical, emotional and spiritual health.
A common question was how I managed spending time with God in the midst of caring for our needy babies and toddlers? Do I recall how I managed when I had only 1 child? I do not have much experience having 1 child for long as my second baby came the following year.
First of all, this post is a personal sharing of how I coped during those early years as a young mother. It is not a list of to-dos to follow. We have enough of mummy-guilt falling short of our own/others’ expectations in this journey of motherhood. We do not need further shackles of advice to weigh us down.
In this post, I wish to share my experiences and helpful tips on how motherhood has re-adjusted my expectations and mindset regarding my spiritual walk with God.
Here’s a letter to you who are fighting the good fight of faith.
Dear Young Mothers in the Lord,
when Paul advised Timothy to ‘Fight the good fight of Faith‘, it meant sweat, tears, energy-consuming defence and attacks. Life as a new mother feels like an endless battle of keeping up with the suckles, cuddles, puddles of merlion reflux and passionate poop of the newborn. It is a stage where everything is trial and error. Just when you think you got the hang of it, there’s a growth spurt or bug to upset your perfect routine, throwing you into another whirlwind of panic.
I imagined perhaps the toddler stage will allow me some respite. I discovered it was another new battlefield of the will and keener spiritual habits to instill.
How to ‘do Quiet Time‘ in this accelerated growth spurts from a helpless babe to a never-ending bouncy todd?
Well meaning older mums assure that this will pass when I had my first-born. I was such a wreck that I wanted to just quit and sleep for eternity. Of course I rolled my eyes to such remarks.
During that newborn stage, my devotional times were greatly thrown off-balance. I was on a survival mode. In my youth, I had been involved heavily in the Navteens and also rooted myself in a church and cell group. More importantly, those times were a significant period that provided much rigour in my bible studies and intimacy with Christ.
When motherhood happened, such times of bible studying and regular quiet times became a luxury. After struggling with guilt over not having that ‘proper’ time slot with God, the Lord freed me from such a mindset that times have changed, and I need to depend on God more creatively.
Here are some practical ways I sought to maintain my intimacy with Jesus by practising the ‘presence of God‘ with the acronym WORSHIP for easy reference.
- Scripture Meditation
When I am impressed by a particular scripture verse, I will jot on a piece of card and place it at my bedside notice board to review daily for a week. Nowadays, I highlight the verses in my You version app bible and insert my personal comments.
Therefore, sometimes, my pace of devotional reading could be very slow. I will read the chapter of that verse to get the context of the scripture for that week and zoom in on that verse to let the Holy Spirit work in my heart.
Meditation is like a cow ruminating, where the cow chews the grass in its mouth, then regurgitates from the stomach to chew again and further break down the food. Reading the word of God will only give us a touch and go comprehension.
However, we have limited time and energy. Taking 1 whole week to meditate on scriptures will help us partake more meaningfully on our Father’s thoughts. I focus on a chapter, review the key verses daily, break down the meaning of each word, pray through and apply what I have learnt when the spirit prompts.
Another good way of meditation is to read the scripture for tomorrow before bedtime so that we fall asleep with His words and when the morning comes, our mind can recall the words more easily and be refreshed by it.
- Christian Books
I bought a few devotional books especially for mothers to get me going. As these daily devotions are short and easy to read, it motivated me to look forward to such pleasant moments. I would spend about 10 mins or so in the morning to be silent and read the scripture passage of the day before going through the comments by the author.
- My One word
I started this My One Word focus 5 years ago after our cell group did a book study on it by Mike Ashcraft & Rachel Olsen. You can read how I craft my One Word in the following years. These 5 years of My One word transformed a major part of my life in studying God’s character and truths in a personal manner as His truths are constantly being applied into the details of my daily life year by year. I also make it a point to illustrate my One word and display it to remind me of God’s promises daily.
2015 Anchor 2016 Cultivate 2017 Portion 2018 Emmanuel 2019 Renew
Obedience to Christ is a key ingredient to experience God in a personal and intimate manner. We need to accompany our faith with obedient actions.
“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder…..
As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. James 2:17-19, 26
Journal your experiences and encounters with God.
Recording down scriptures and revelations from the Holy Spirit whenever you receive them, provides a tangible evidence of how real God is in your life.
Many times we are unable to share specifically how or why God is good in our lives because we failed to record it. “It is grievous to have fresh insight from God, neglect to write it down, lose it forever, only to recall that it was good.” (John Piper’s Tweet from My One Word, p136)
I will journal my struggles and prayer requests (I initial PR and encirle it with a heart shape) whenever an issue weighs me down. Each time a specific PR has been answered, I will flip to the page that has the PR and complete it with (AY means Answered Yay!) When completed it forms (PRAY). Sometimes there are unanswered prayers and it helps me reflect if I had prayed according to God’s will.
A friend shared that she tried journaling with pen and paper, but could not keep up the habit. However, she found that if she recorded the prayers in Google calendar on her phone on the go, it allowed her to save time and still record God’s goodness! Use technology to help you. Take a photo of the scripture verse or something visual that would remind you of that prayer request, then caption it. When done, put a tick or store it in an answered prayer folder?
I used to journal frequently when I was young. However, with more responsibilities, and now as a mother, I only go to my journal to record the important lessons that He wishes me to learn. Also, the answered prayers.
Your journal will highlight your mind, heart and soul to the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life. It will also be a living testimony of who God is in your life for your families and friends. A legacy of faith marked somewhere in the cyber or physical world.
‘Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:23-25
Having your hubby and a few close girl friends whom you can share your struggles and pray for you are important. God works in wonderful ways and knows our needs.
Different periods of my motherhood, God would bring timely encouragement from different relationships I have in and out of church context.
There is both the Local church and the Universal church that we as christians are so privileged to belong to! Sometimes, the local church may not be able to support you but the spiritual friends from your old time contacts and new friends could come in and support you for that timely moment and vice versa. Whichever the case, stay rooted in your local church even when the ‘babying’ and ‘toddling’ gets tough. It will pay off in the children’s lives in the latter years as they gather in Jesus’ name to worship as a church.
I have also learnt that it takes both hands to clap for spiritual support to be sustained and developed. As I intentionally care for others in need, regardless of whether the sister-in-Christ have a kid or not, they can also be a prayer support in your motherhood journey.
When we are open and willing to care and be bold to ask for support, God will heal and nourish old and new relationships in His own good timing.
Firstly, I am supporting my hubby’s ministry by holding the fort at home so that he can serve in church with a peace of mind.
Secondly, I started praying for others who may have needs, to avail themselves and visit me so that I could minister to them. I couldn’t go meet outside but my home is open. God blessed me with such opportunities and I was able to continue reaching out to others in my limited capacity.
Let not guilt weigh you down if you may not have such opportunities. Because thirdly, our main ministry is still our direct offspring. Disciple our own children in God’s way.
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and consumed the forbidden fruit, their eyes were opened to their nakedness. They sewed fig leaves for themselves as they felt shame. However, after God gave his judgement on them, In Gen 3:21 21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. God still had such tender compassion to make garments for His children. He definitely cares for our every needs.
We also need to be good stewards and take care of our body, mind and spirit. I try to go for short outings or walks with baby outdoors to have fresh air and catch naps whenever the baby naps.
When the going gets unbearable and I need to isolate myself from home, I will arrange for my hubby to take over on a weekend so that I can go out by myself or meet a friend or simply just rest in at home while hub brings kid/s out.
The chores would be done in short spurts here and there, while the thorough cleaning will be outsourced to a helper who comes once or bi-weekly. I plan my cooking in advance and freeze them whenever possible. Or I will buy a batch of fresh fish to be cut up in pieces and pack them individually for freezing. I will then thaw a piece and steam or pan fry for myself or the todd.
If you have relatives or friends who live nearby and can provide you some kind of respite, it will go a long way in supporting your intense caring period.
Also, do something that you like, e.g drawing or sewing or reading. However, be realistic on the time spent, it may mean only snippets of 10 mins a time to just keep your interest going.
With today’s technology, it can be a boon or bane depending on how you respond to the social media that you are engaged in. In the past, I relied on CD worship songs. Now, one can listen to podcasts of sermons, stories, songs, watch YouTube, read christian blogs and even watch live insta stories!
However, with the multitude of spiritual resources, it is even more important to be discerning on what you listen to and where you receive influence from.
Comparison is the thief that robs a mother’s joy when it comes to looking around the inspiring life online. If a certain speaker or blogger causes you to become discontent with your own life, cease following him or her.
Online spiritual resource should not be the main source of information for your spiritual food.
The scriptures should be the Main diet in our spiritual life. There is danger when we rely heavily on others to unpack the bible for us. I recall having a sense of lost in a season of life when I used mainly devotional books for my daily devotions. After some time, I lost appetite for bible reading and studying the bible itself. It was then, that God revealed my habitual dependence on them. Thereafter, I stopped relying (note this is a comparison on total reliance) on such resources for my quiet times and re-trained my bible study habits.
I discovered there is no short cut. We must know God through authentic studying of His precepts. Others can support our understanding but cannot replace our encounters with Christ Himself. Such devotional resources should be a tool to assist, and not replace your own studying of the bible.
Human theologies will remain as that- human. Let Jesus be the one to speak life into you and me.
- Constant Conversations
I will awake each morning and greet the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to start the day. This helps me tune in to begin the day with God. Then I ask for the Holy Spirit to speak to me as I read God’s words. During the early years when night and day was blurred with constant feeding of baby, my prayers were short but constant.
Arrow prayer requests, questions on why baby behaves this way, concerns and blessings all jumbled up whenever it came to mind.
In challenging toddler times, I often find myself closing that door in my room to cry on my knees because I have no idea how to handle this tantrum-throwing child.
In the midst of all these, we still have so many other loved ones to show we care. Our spouse, our parents and siblings, our friends and ministries.
Whenever God lays a burden in your heart to pray for someone, lift that person up in intercession immediately so that we don’t miss such blessed opportunity to be standing in the gap.
As you pray, also pay attention to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Is a song in your heart? Sing it out! A friend says she is closest when she plays the guitar to praise Him. Praise God in prayer, give thanks constantly and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
Embrace this new season
Remember, this is a new and different season from the past. Now you have another new life/lives to care and nurture for.
Take heart dear mums, this needy season will not last forever. Give yourself that time and grace that the Lord himself bestows. Learn to embrace and enjoy this laborious and adorable phase of our lil ones!
There will be lots of trials and errors along the way. He will carry us through each one rendering His grace sufficient.
May I reiterate a friend’s reminder, this sharing is not about us “doing” the right things in our attempt to survive better or be more godly, but to know Christ. However, when I was a young Christian, people mostly told me that phrase, but I really did not understand how to go about doing it in a practical and personal way. So my goal of sharing is to offer some practical ways on how I coped as a young mum to Know Christ and love Him deeper in our early motherhood. I would have added memorizing scriptures, but this is my weak area. In contrast, I find scripture meditation worked well. Practise the presence of God in your own way my dear mums and God bless your souls to be refreshed with joy!
“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3
Let’s worship the Lord with all our beings and becoming!
Image credit: You version
For more posts on my faith journey in motherhood click HERE.
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