Does this sound familiar…Mommy needs a time out! In the same way children desperately fight the naps they need while mommies would give their right arm for one I have to admit there have been a few times after umpteen temper tantrums on top of adventures in potty training coupled with work stress piled on top of the difficulty of living with a chronic illness day in and day out I have on occasion…unfortunately not gotten a nap…but locked myself in the bathroom for my very own time out …even if it was just to go to have my own potty break ALONE…with little fingers poking under the door trying desperately to get to me. This was of course before I had Jackson because let’s face it…I don’t get a time out unless HE’S in time out because I can’t leave that boy alone for a second. It was also before I listened to the Lord and His plan for me to be a full-time stay-at-home mom in this wonderfully busy (and at times wonderfully exhausting) season of life. I do however have the privilege of every Tuesday morning getting my very own time out of sorts…and I really believe it makes me a better mom!
Last winter shortly after giving my testimony the Lord very clearly led me to facilitate a Just for Moms Bible Study at our church…oddly enough about simplicity while adding one more thing to my schedule. I very quickly learned that the blessings of serving in that capacity were immense. God did so many amazing things in my heart at light speed not only through His Word and His Spirit moving in me but also through the fellowship of community with the incredible women God put in our group who almost immediately became my dear friends. This year serving meant more of a time committment but I quickly felt the Lord calling me to somehow be a part. Late in the summer I was clearly led to facilitate the Mothers of Preschoolers group and it has been a fabulous year thus far. God is so powerfully present each and every week moving in incredible ways…from how He orchestrates our conversations and aligns our studies with what is going on in our lives to how He has miraculously answers prayers to the safety and comfort we all feel in the presence of one another to open up and share our hearts. These women are my sisters in Christ and they are my friends and I truly love them. We laugh together, we cry together….we share the triumphs and the tragedies…the things that make our hearts sing and the things that make us suffer and struggle…and no matter what I know that we will be there for one another.
I wasn’t always this candid or willing to be so transparent. For a very long time I wore a mask that covered up the pain that lied just beneath the surface. The harsh reality I don’t like to admit is that stubbornness stunted my spiritual growth. I wasn’t able to be real with others. I wasn’t able to connect with them on any kind of personal level. I barely skimmed the surface. My relationships were shallow and empty because no one knew what I was really going through. Not until I opened my heart and shared was I able to really be me. Not until I opened up was God able to be glorified through me sharing what He was doing in my life…the whole reason I am here! Through that weight being lifted…the last step in my healing and the first step in my surrender…God has blessed me so richly by unveiling my eyes and taking me to a whole new level of spiritual understanding. I can hear God speak through others and I can freely share what He has done in my life to help others in their struggles. I couldn’t do that when I refused to tell about my struggles out of fear and doubt and plain old selfishness. Oh the blessings I had missed that now I constantly receive. For if our hands are tightly clenched holding onto something we don’t want to let go of…how can we receive anything else? What if that something else is immeasurably more than anything we could ever ask or imagine?
I am so thankful for this shelter of women that God has so graciously given me. Each and every one of them adds their own special and unique gift to the group. We joke that we wish we could get together every weekday morning…with childcare provided. The truth is we all need a safe place we can go to learn and grow and share in the Lord through His Word. That is where we can see Him work…that is where we can see His glory revealed through what He is doing in the lives of others and share what He is doing in our own. We are all a part of His plan and we need to surround ourselves with brothers and sisters who are traveling the same road we are.
At times I have felt a tad bit guilty for having a weekly time out away from my children. But I really believe the comradery I’ve found with other Christian women who are in the exact same boat I am in makes me not only a better mommy, but a better wife, a better daughter…sister…friend…and most importantly a better child of God. My soul needs that time of sharing, reflection and prayer surrounded other godly women. And in that time my children are learning more about Jesus, too…and making friends of their own! They are studying exactly what we are in a much more fun way. But then again…we mommies have a pretty good time ourselves! Just as Jackson (hopefully) learns something from each of his time outs…I’ve learned that I need mine and I certainly don’t need to feel guilty about it! Mommy needs a time out!