Editor’s Note: Today, I’m very happy to welcome a guest post from Benjamin Kerns, author of Holy Parenting: Making the Common Sacred. With so many of us rushing around to kids’ activities, meetings, work and family commitments, it can feel like a tremendous challenge to simply give time each day to nourishing ourselves spiritually. In Holy Parenting, Benjamin offers real world solutions for real life dilemmas in a way that will leave you engaged and inspired. I thank him for joining us today to tackle this topic head on. Enjoy! LMH
Having a child has had a devastating impact on my spiritual life!
Before kids, I had a thriving spiritual life that had all the space in the world for study, prayer, rest, and reflection. There were plenty of hours in my day, and finding one to intentionally connect with God was not hard to find. And, even if there happened to be a hectic week, there was always the weekend!
I remember the beauty of a lazy Saturday morning. I would sleep until my body informed me that it was fully rested. I would put on sweats and a hat, take my wife by the hand as we walked with our dog to our local Starbucks. We would sit for over an hour in sporadic conversation as we read our books, bibles, devotionals and jotted our thoughts and prayers in our journals.
Those were good days!
When we found out were were pregnant with our first child, we were so excited to add this new life into our perfect little family. Our Saturday rhythms continued as our walks transformed into waddles. And in no time at all, we simply added a stroller with our brand new son into this rhythm.
I didn’t notice it right away, but by the time our second kid entered the scene, I realized that something was off. With one little baby it was mostly doable to maintain most of our old rhythms. I could still get up early and spend time with God and those times were made precious with my little boy on my lap. But now my little boy was three and he wasn’t as pleased to stay quiet and still while I had his sister on my lap for my morning devotion time.
Over three years, my thriving devotional life had atrophied. I could not maintain the spiritual practices I had kept most of my adult life. It was impossible to get a head of my kids sleep patterns, and waking up at 5:00 am just to get some actual quiet time seemed like a punishment rather than something that would be fulfilling.
Something Needs to Change:
My regular diet of morning quiet times of consisting of bible study, prayer and journaling had become non existent. As my diet became a fast, I noticed the lack of spiritual development and the waning effects of the fruit of the spirit in my life.
Thankfully it was just around this time that I had been seeing a spiritual director who is incredibly gracious and wise and walked with me through this season. She recommended that maybe I simply needed to expand my spiritual diet. Spurred on my her challenge, God was able to regain access to my life and to my heart by trying out some different ways to connect with God and ways to give him access to my heart.
The key for me was the spiritual art of practicing the presence of God. By changing the way I view my devotional life as fueling up for the entire day with morning devos, I am invited to commune with God throughout my entire day, in all the common things that happen, I can see the ways God is active and involved.
Raising Toddlers is a Spiritual Discipline:
Once I was able to expand my spiritual diet, I was able to reconnect with God in all the fun and chaos that life brings with a house full of toddlers. Instead of dying to sleep, God might actually be inviting you, along with me, to see every part of our day as sacred. From breakfast, to driving in the car, to play dates, to midnight mayhem, God is actively involved and desires to reveal the deeper spiritual realities of those common tasks.
Holy Parenting: Making the Common Sacred is a book that walks alongside the reader sharing this journey of spiritual desert to spiritual dessert. It is a book that wrestles with the grief that happens when you realize your old life is gone forever and helps the readers come up with a stratgy to accept this new reality. The rest of the book looks at this spiritual discipline of presence through the lens of little children to find the ways that we can not only survive spiritually, but thrive.
I hope you are encouraged by this book and inspired to try out some new rhythms for spiritual growth. Because, if you want your kids to love God someday, the number one way to make that happen is for you to still be in love with him. Don’t be content with dry spirituality, and make parenting part of your spiritual diet!
Copyright 2012 Benjamin Kerns