"A Living Parable" by Aubry Smith, After His Heart series
She and I co-existed at the same little Christian college for 4 years without ever really getting to know one another. We were even involved in the same Backyard Bible Clubs ministry, so I'm sure we both spent afternoons getting our hair braided and streaked with "Spicy Cheetos orange" and still didn't manage to become friends. Blame it on our introverted natures, I guess.
But not too long ago, I found her blog and fell in love.
I loved her thoughtful ponderings of Christian culture and the way she challenged and tested everything against Scripture. I loved her efficient use of powerful words and the way she sought to reflect Jesus in her everyday life. I loved how she was just so....well, so smart.
I am thankful for women like Aubry in the body of Christ. I am thankful for women who clean diapers as fearlessly as they dissect false theologies and equally thankful for her voice to conclude this little series! I hope you enjoy her as much as I do :)
In high school, I discovered the joy of reading and understanding Scripture. I would ride to school with my football coach dad instead of riding the bus, which meant I was there a full two hours before my first class. So I read my Bible for those two hours. I memorized entire chapters. I read the whole thing front to back, over and over.
In college, I spent at least an hour a day in focused solitude with a journal, because I found I processed my tumultuous days more thoroughly if I wrote my prayers and recorded what the Lord was teaching me in Scripture.
These were years of explosive growth, where I could recall Bible passages with ease, where I had plenty of time to process the radical ideas of the Bible. I felt like I had “arrived” in my devotional life, with my dozens of prayer journals and note-riddled Bible and instant recall of nearly any passage of Scripture.
And then I had three kids in four years.
Now, I’m lucky to spend more than 10 minutes at a time in Scripture. I’ve traded my lengthy closet-prayers for quick spurts of prayer as I wash dishes and the “Oh-Lord-don’t-let-me-lose-it-with-this-child” prayers under my breath. I’m never alone, which makes it difficult for this introvert to process anything. The only Scripture I’m memorizing are the bite-sized passages I’m teaching my 4-year-old. Which is perfect, because sweet Moses, what happens to a woman’s brain when she has children?
I’m constantly changing diapers and nursing a baby and don’t color on the walls! and trying to engage in the millions of teachable moments every day. One week, I lost 4 pounds on accident simply because I kept forgetting to eat. I actually typed this whole post one-handed while nursing my 3-month-old through an intense growth spurt.
I struggle in this season because it feels less spiritual than the seasons filled with rich prayer and hours in Scripture. I bought a composition notebook to write my prayers and lessons in as before, but it’s still empty because my hands are unbelievably busy during the day. Getting up early is not going to happen; I go to bed with the baby at 11pm, then up at 3am and 6am. So where is the quiet time for young moms?
Where do we meet with Jesus?
John says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us—in Jesus (John 1). I am clinging to this incarnational image of Jesus these days: the Word with skin and bones on. All of God’s expectations and holiness, all of God’s warnings and promises, all of God’s love and kindness and grace—all of the Law and the Prophets and the Word and the words from untold centuries…moving around in a body. Living.
I have less time to see and know Jesus by reading the Bible, but He is walking around with those words on in my home. He speaks the humility and service-life of Philippians 2 to me as I change diapers and mediate fights and put my own interests and ambitions to the side to care for these little lives. He shows me the lavish Father-love of 1 John 3, that nothing I ever do can make me more accepted by God, or loved less, because this kind of grace is weaved into my own relationship with my prone-to-wander kids.
My children have become for me a living parable of the Word I read for years but didn’t understand as well as now, when I have much less time to read it. Though I can’t remember the last time I read Jesus’ teachings on prayer, I understand now how God loves to give good things to His children when they ask, rather than spitefully withholding—a lie I believed during some hard years, though I was reading the Bible voraciously. The Spirit is slowly building up perseverance and service and steadfastness in me as I do dishes and laundry and cook and all the little things I need to do to maintain some semblance of order. I get it, how God disciplines the ones He loves. I see the heart of God when our kids show true gratitude or spontaneous love towards me, and I worship more fully because of this. There are a million of these little moments throughout the day where Jesus points at my babies and says, “Listen.”
I tend to undervalue this quotidian spirituality, the profound truths in the mundane. I often think, “Maybe the Lord will use me and teach me more when the kids are more independent, when I have more time.” But these years aren’t a time-out on my spiritual formation; Jesus is here, right in the thick of the chaos.
This stage of my life won’t last forever, and I’m sure my devotional life will shift again to more prolonged Bible reading, focused prayer, memorizing, and journaling in a few more years. But during these tired days when I can’t seem to get there often, I want to listen well to the parables the Lord is whispering through these little lives.