When I was in college, I used to steal away to a small chapel on our campus and pray. My favorite days were the days when it was empty, leaving the piano and me. I’d go over and play old hymns from the hymnal and sing loudly until someone entered and I sheepishly excused myself. My favorite song to sing then, was “Come thou Fount.” The lyrics are rich and it’s one of my favorite hymns.
Sometimes I look back on that time and think of it as kind of the “Golden Years” of my Christian walk. I had hours to pray and sing to God and I loved the time. As a young wife and mom of one with another large baby on the way, I do not have time to pray or sing for hours in solitude. Some days, I feel tempted to think something is wrong with my Christian walk. If only I could go back to the time in college when in solitude I could sing my praises to God.
One of the biggest complaints that I hear from women is that they are afraid they will no longer be “themselves” after they have children. There is a lie circulating that a woman’s identity will somehow be whisked away once they have a baby. I think this is because once we have a baby the things that we do—our rituals and habits—change. Babies see that routines change, because they are cute but very needy. Normally, in order to feel more like themselves women rush back to familiar routines, trying to remember who “they” are. I can empathize with these women as I gaze with longing back at my years of being able to praise and pray to the Lord in peace without being interrupted.
Taking time away from your family and doing things for yourself would be a wonderful solution if we were all defined by what we do. However, our identity is not comprised of the things that we do on a day-to-day basis. The answer for me and for other moms is not simply to get away to try to find “ourselves” again (although I love alone time and think it is important at times). The answer is realizing that although our routines, lives, and even bodies look very different, we are still the same women.
I’m the same girl who sang those hymns in the small chapel, only now I sing them as lullabies to my one-year-old. I’m the same girl who prayed for faithfulness in college only now I am begging for the strength to be faithful as my back aches from carrying a baby and a one year old for much of the day. I am the same girl who prayed that I would love others as God does only now I’m loving my husband and trying to think of his needs first. I’m the same girl who sang “Here I raise my Ebeneezer, hither by thy help I come” but now I’ve come a lot further in life than that girl, and I pray I will remember God’s faithfulness and with His help I will be faithful. (Ebeneezer, by the way, is a rock that Samuel in the Bible put up as a monument to God, which means “The Lord has brought me thus far.”) I am the same girl.
I love sacred moments with the Lord, but I’m finding that solitude isn’t required for moments to be sacred. God meant us to live in community and I love my small little community very much. One of the great things about being pregnant is that I always carry another with me. He’s with me wherever I go—talk about a redefiniton of community! I can’t ever be alone, but that shouldn’t be my goal. I don’t need to retreat to try to rediscover myself. My routines have changed, the way that I worship and serve God looks different, but I am the same woman.
I’m wiping up carrots that are ground into a high chair and praying for patience. I’m changing diapers that are filthy and praying for strength. I’m singing “Come Thou Fount” to both of my boys praising God for how far he has brought me in life thus far. I’m the same woman, and by God’s grace, I’m still singing.
Here are the lyrics to “Come Thou Fount”:
Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.