Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Find Time for Spirituality?

The Question:

How do you maintain your spiritual life while in the trenches of motherhood?

It seems like I can just never find my groove to make personal worship consistent. You know how it goes, you finally find a quiet minute and you're asleep two verses in. I go back and forth between thinking I just need to cut myself some slack, and thinking I just need to try harder and stop making excuses for myself. You don't ever hear other women talking about this, I think, because we all feel guilty that we aren't doing more. I guess I'm just sick of pretending and hoping that showing some honesty and humility by asking the question will help me find what I feel like I'm missing.


The Answer: Growing Spiritually As A Mother

I've developed kind of a mental image about our spiritual education. To me, it's like a college class that contains both course work and lab work. We learn about things and then we're put in situations where we have a chance to apply them. Motherhood is the most intense lab work known to man. We are taxed in every possible way. We're tired, stretched and often pushed right to the edge physically and emotionally and in that state, we strive to respond lovingly to our family. And, more often than not, we actually succeed. We "suffer long and are kind". I was never very successful at having a regular study progam at your stage. I've always read from the scriptures almost every day--but sometimes just a few verses. I read an article here and there. My Sundays were more exhausting than uplifting. But my days were absolutely saturated in service to my family. And that "lab work" is more valuable than hours of study.

Don't feel guilty about falling asleep with your scriptures after a long day of "bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man". That's what motherhood is. It's God's true work. What you want is his help in doing it. Pray each morning for his help. Dedicate your service to him and seek the spirit so that you can teach your children. Don't mentally make your spiritual progress a separate thing from your life. It's happening. You are not only staying on the path, you're bringing these little ones with you.

You'll come to my stage and you'll have an hour or more a day to study and ponder. You'll be able to attend the temple regularly and read the whole conference Ensign. (That's course work.) But you'll see that your real growth took place in the trenches. The scriptures, prayer, the meetings are tools to strengthen you. Use them instead of "how to" books. I eventually tossed every parenting book and just studied the gospel instead and I found that even a few verses gave me the eternal perspective I needed. They invited the spirit.

I learned to pray often as I went through my days--for patience, for ideas, for all kinds of help. I would pray about one of my children and then I noticed that during the day, as I thought about the problem, an answer would come into my mind. I learned without a doubt, that the Savior is real and that I wasn't on my own. So I emerged from those really intense years with a spiritual strength I didn't have before.

Natalie was just here over Christmas and I was really in awe of her growth as a person. She can't see it at all, but the rest of us can. She was concerned like you are that she isn't getting much time for spiritual education. I just wanted to laugh. I really did. It's like watching someone arrive at a destination and then feel bad because they hardly had time to look at the map.

I hope this helps you. It's not eloquent but it's my honest experience. I know the Lord loves you for your humility and I also know, he will help you every day.

With Love, Jane


  1. It is eloquent. And it's very helpful perspective! Thanks for writing! I really love this blog!

  2. I love this because I think it's very encouraging. I want to do better about finding time to study, and I will continue to try to be better, but I CAN dedicate all that I am doing to the Lord. My life can be a spiritual lab, I love that thought. This is also a great reminder that scriptures are an invaluable resource for wisdom and perspective rather than something on the to do list. What a great question and such a relevant answer. Thank you!

  3. Thank you so much for this, Jane. Exactly the perspective shift I needed. I often think about the act of motherhood as consecrating oneself to the Lord's work while I am pregnant, and in those first moments after birth, but then somewhere in the needy hub-ub of family life forget, when really it's only becoming all the more relevant. And amen to everything Natalie just commented, my thoughts exactly. What a blessing the discussions on this blog have been to me! Thank you.

  4. You are so good at articulating the random thoughts that are jumbled up in my head! What you say isn't ever revolutionary or dramatic, it just makes simple sense. After talking with Natalie about this particular issue a few weeks ago, I was kinda thinking about how it just isn't realistic to think that we can spend hours a day studying the scriptures. I think those hours would be better spent teaching our children instead. We had 20 years of classes before motherhood, and I feel like that pace/type of learning is all on pause now. I'm just trying to get through church without a toddler meltdown. Everything in its season, as my mom says. I believe that Heavenly Father will bless us with His spirit and insight as we make good choices and we teach our children about the Gospel.

    Seriously, Jane, you should be writing a book about all this stuff!

  5. this was wonderful to read and helped to feel good about what i am doing rather than feeling bad about what i am not.

    this blog is wonderful!

    i agree, you should write a book!

  6. I came across your blog and love the uplifting advice. I appreciate your thoughts. I agree that the important thing is to seek learning, the Lord's perspective on things-- not to insist that we keep a specific regimen. I like this quote from "Teaching, No Greater Call" about developing a personal plan to study the gospel:

    "One Church member tried many times to follow specific programs for scripture study, but it was always difficult for her. She later reflected:
    “It seemed that with trying to raise a family and fulfill my Church responsibilities, I never completely reached the goal. I would designate a certain time and place to study each day, only to have the schedule interrupted by the needs of children who were ill or other crises typical of a growing family. During that time of my life, I never really thought of myself as someone who was good at scripture study.
    “Then one day my mother was in my home. She looked at a large table which was covered with Church materials—among them my scriptures—and said, ‘I love the way you are always reading your scriptures. They always seem to be open on one table or another.’
    “Suddenly I had a new vision of myself. She was right. I was consistently into my scriptures, even though it was not part of a formal study program. I loved the scriptures. They fed me. There were scripture verses tacked to my kitchen walls that lifted me as I worked, scriptures I was helping my children memorize for talks they would give. I lived in a world of scripture reading, and I realized that I was being nourished abundantly.”

  7. Andrea, thanks so much for that quote! I've thought about it every day. It's such a great addition to this post. I hope everyone reads it.

  8. Wow, i was just introduced to this blog and I LOVE it. I know I need to be better at consistently being in the scriptures, but what a relief to realize I am doing more "lab" work than I know! Thank you and I'm excited to follow this blog!

  9. I was just introduced to this blog also and what a gift it is! Jane, your voice is just the one I need to hear right now as a new mom. Your confidence in motherhood, closeness to the spirit and positive attitude are so inspiring! Thank you!


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