I went to a baby shower this past weekend. Pink decorations were all around. The room was swelling with hushed Awww‘s as the items and tiny outfits were unwrapped.

My mind drifted back to a time when I was expecting my own babies. My life was full of excitement, and my mind was swirling with what if‘s. But I knew what to expect as a new mom. I just KNEW.

My thoughts subsided, and my attention was caught up in my friend who was now reading her challenge to the mom-to-be. She did a beautiful job, as her time was full of encouragement and sprinkled with humor. But something stuck out to me. She was exhorting this new mom to use the still moments of rocking or feeding the baby to study the Word. What’s wrong with that, you ask?

I, like everyone else, entered a new stage of life with expectations. There is nothing wrong with expectations, but not all of mine were realistic. 

Before this, my time with the Lord and studying His Word took place whenever I wanted with little to no interruptions. I could easily set aside my day to focus on Him, journal, and reach out to friends for updated prayer requests. My mind was clear.

A diaper commercial from a few years ago had the tagline, “Having a baby changes everything.” Boy, is that true.

I, too, had been told to use my quiet moments to read God’s Word and dwell on prayer. But now that I had my own babies, I found that it was not so simple. I was tired. My brain was a mess. (I was a mess.) But something I could remember was that I was still supposed to do my devotions and what they should look like. But how is that even possible if I’m crying or barely able to stay awake?

What I know now is that our time with the Lord might not always look the same as someone else’s or even the same as it looked last year. 

We can see this in how the nation of Israel worshiped God throughout the Old Testament. As He led them out of Egypt, God was with them in the form of a pillar of cloud or of fire. Eventually God commanded Moses to build a tent for a meeting place where He could speak to Moses. This eventually changed to creating a portable tabernacle which was used for prayer and sacrifices for the people. This tabernacle was ultimately replaced by Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem.

Was being with God in any of the ways prior to the completion of the temple wrong or not good enough? Of course not. God made a way for the children of Israel to abide with Him in ways that were fitting for the time.

Likewise, can we expect that our time with the Lord will be “picture perfect” every day or in every season of life? (That’s a trick question.)

The truth is that as life changes, our way of being with the Lord will also change. Our expectations need to match where we are in life. We might not have the opportunity to read for 30 minutes and journal each day, but we can stick some verses or quotes to the bathroom mirror to dwell on, or we can set reminders throughout our day to stop and pray. 

Right now, the best time for me to pray with our children is on our walk to school. I don’t need to pull them away from what they are doing to gather in the same room, stay calm, and be quiet. But I can use the time where God has already put us all together to praise Him for His daily mercies and forgiveness and to pray for the souls of our boys and those that they see each day. One style or time of prayer is not superior to another.

What are your expectations? Are they realistic for the place God has you right now? Don’t compare your time with the Lord with how others worship. Don’t set yourself up for guilt for not doing enough. Grow where you are and seek ways to meet the Lord there.

I’m Tina Horneck. I’m a follower of Christ, seeking to put what I learn of Him to practice as a wife and mom of three boys. I share my voice on my podcast and through my blog at keepingmysanity.com. I’m passionate about coffee, running, reading, baking, and talking to my garden.

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