There are many different seasons in the life of a woman.
While the substance of our relationship to God need not change, invariably the form of the relationship will.
One such season finds us involved in the pursuit of personal fulfillment such as school, professional training, and career. Finding, perfecting and developing ourselves is the primary focus of this time of our life.
This season might also be utilized to foster a relationship with God through reflection, introspection, studying and prayer.
Women tend generally to move onto the next stage, one of looking for the significant other in our life.
Often, despite our efforts, success in this area is elusive. For those who are successful, conception and bearing children do not necessarily follow as readily as one might hope for.
A new role as home-maker may cut heavily into what we perceive as our spiritual growth.
When, finally, the goals of marriage, children and creating a home are realized, we discover that the demands of our new roles cut heavily into what we perceive as our spiritual growth and connection to God. The many expressions of our personhood seem to fall by the wayside.
The core issue is that heretofore, the focus was on the self -- self-fulfillment, self-gratification, self-growth. But now the "self" has to defer to the needs of the family.
The wife and mother may feel that she has lost her "self" -- physically, spiritually and, at times, even mentally.
As a result some women knock themselves for what they perceive as the waning state of spirituality following marriage and motherhood.
A NEW CHAPTER
It is important to understand that while every new chapter of life appears to close the door to what was, it does open a new door for us. The contrast with what was, should be seen not as a diminution but as a challenge to find new avenues of expression and connection.
For us woman, our relationship to God is of one seamless piece; it cannot be compartmentalized.
We need to understand that for us woman, our relationship to God is of one seamless piece; it cannot be compartmentalized.
Time for formal prayer is harder to come by when our daily schedules necessitate carpooling, working, cleaning house, cooking, etc. We do need to recognize, however, that these are not mere mundane activities that distance us from our spirituality. Quite the contrary. If we invest them with awareness and see in them Gods' blessing and opportunities, they become vehicles for the highest form of worship.
It is all a matter of perspective and attitude. God does not reside exclusively in the formal prayer book. As King Solomon exclaims, "Know Him and relate to Him in all your paths." Whatever the stage of our life or the path of our journey, we can invite the Almighty into our life and make Him a constant companion at our side.
What we have learned from our single life, we can apply to our married life.
THE NEW SHAPE OF GRATITUDE
When I passed my entrance exams I thanked Him. When I successfully negotiated my doctoral dissertation I was grateful. When I got the promotion I had hoped for I acknowledged my appreciation for His assistance.
No less so when I am in the kitchen. It is totally appropriate to ask Him to please make my cake rise and to thank Him when indeed it does. When I diaper my baby and behold this most precious of all gifts, I let myself feel embraced by Him. When a tired husband comes home, I count my blessing -- we are a couple!
Every aspect of life is an opportunity for making a meaningful connection with God.
The cup filled by my Heavenly Benefactor runneth over. Every aspect of life itself -- waking up, seeing the sun shining, trees blooming, feeling healthy, my limbs moving, my body functioning -- is an opportunity for making a meaningful connection with the sovereign of the universe.
Every season of life has both limitations and opportunities. Often it is only through the wisdom of age and retrospection that we come to realize just how uniquely precious the years of raising a family were, despite the many difficulties we encountered.
Here are a few suggestions to effectively navigate through those challenging years of marriage and motherhood:
Move through your days with your eyes and heart open to "ordinary blessings."
Surround yourself with people of like mind and values, so that you can encourage each other, especially when the going gets tough.
Steer clear of self-pity. Put on lively and inspiring music or whatever it takes to create a happy environment and keep moving.
Take care of yourself physically -- eat well, exercise, and take a little time off whenever possible.
Go to classes, listen to tapes, grow, learn.
Seek professional help when necessary to deal with the adjustment to the perceived loss of "self-hood" and the concomitant challenge of constant giving.
Make time (as limited as it might be) for creative modes of self-expression such as writing, painting, and etc.
Above all, ask God for clarity, for help in keeping your head straight amidst all of the confusion. Finally tell God how desperately you need to feel that He is holding your hand. Ask to help you understand that, despite your perception of feeling spiritually low, in your role of partner and nurturer you are spiritually high, and more closely connected than ever.