I have suddenly found myself in a new stage of life. My oldest is in second grade, my middle son is in preschool five mornings a week, and my youngest is in preschool two mornings a week, which leaves me six hours of time each week to do with as I please.
I can go to the bathroom without spectators.
I can have a cup of coffee while sitting down.
I can run errands without pushing around a cart full of kids.
I can even roam the aisles of Target aimlessly if I so choose.
In fact, as I write, I’m sitting in an empty, quiet house. It’s the strangest thing.
It’s also the strangest thing how quickly I’ve moved into this season of life. It seems as if my youngest just came home from the hospital, my middle son just learned to walk, and my oldest was hyped about starting kindergarten. In all honesty, as I muddled through those baby and preschool years, I dreamt of having six free hours to myself. Mothers of older children always said how fast the time goes, how the days are long but the years are short. I didn’t believe them. It’s hard to believe them when you spend your days giving of yourself so completely that you fall into bed exhausted in the evening.
Yet, here I am. And so quickly.
This stage is different than I thought it would be. Yes, running errands without kids is bliss. But in all those years of looking forward to my children growing more independent and having some free time for myself, I didn’t take into account that I do not own my time. I always thought that all my work and sacrifice in the baby years meant that I would “earn” and “deserve” some time to do what I wanted when my children were a little older.
I’m learning that’s not so. As the start of preschool loomed and I began planning what I’d use my six hours for, my heart grew unsettled. I talked to the Lord about it because I’ve found that, for me, unsettled usually means there is sin in my life. Sure enough, He quietly impressed on my heart: Have you asked me about how I’d like you to use this time? In the months leading up to my six hours of freedom, I hadn’t once stopped to ask Him for His leadership or direction.
In the end, His ideas and my ideas for my six hours weren’t all that different. The Lord was just concerned with the heart behind my decisions: Is it my time or is it His time? I am reminded that at each transition and each new stage in my life, I must evaluate if what I’m doing is for myself or for the Lord. Am I willing to surrender what I’ve “earned”? Am I willing to accept the time as a gift and not feel guilty about enjoying it? Am I willing to continue to serve and give of myself even though I gave myself so completely all those years? Am I focused on my own desires and wants or am I cheerfully using my time to honor the Lord?
Or was that just a stage?
By Christine Hoover from The Hoover Household