The Crisis of Faith We Don't Expect When We're Expecting
Editor's note: Today's guest post comes from Micha Boyett, whose just-released book found followers her journey as "Mama Monk," as she explored Benedictine spirituality during early years of motherhood. She writes here about rediscovering the honesty, grit, and hope of the Psalms through the example of the Benedictines, and how they helped restore her prayer life. -Kate Shellnutt
When I was five months pregnant with my first child, I kneeled on a concrete hotel balcony, alone, and made a choice to remain in youth ministry.
For three years I'd spent my days with high school and middle school students, believing that play and prayer could be held in the same hand. I sang Taylor Swift songs at the top of my lungs in the car with my 15-year-old students and then, in a moment, found myself talking a sophomore through her parents' divorce, or her friend's anorexia, or her certainty that God could never love her. My life in ministry was powerful and challenging and deeply meaningful. And now I was pregnant.
I kneeled on that balcony during my youth mission's conference, where friends and colleagues inspired me to continue in the ministry, and I begged God to make my future clear. Was it possible to minister and mother at the same time?
Many moms ask themselves a similar question. Are we capable of giving ourselves fully to work and fully to our children? Can we split our callings without fracturing ourselves in the process? I wondered if I could raise a kid in the midst of my wild life of Friday night high school football games and 6 a.m. Bible studies. I was passionate about my work. How could I not continue pointing high school students to the Jesus I loved?
I prayed, "I'll do it, Lord. You and me. We can do this." I would carry ministry into motherhood. I would bind them together. I would search for a way to hold them both. Me and Jesus. We would hold them both.
I didn't enter motherhood in ignorance. I had friends who had stumbled through the darkness of post-partum depression. I knew I'd face sleepless nights. I had two dear mentors who were living the hard, lean years of raising teenagers. I recognized that motherhood would be the heaviest task I'd undertake.
What no one prepared me for was how lonely I'd be for faith. As new moms, we expect our lives will change, but we never expect to lose prayer. We never expect to lose God.
It's difficult to minister to students, to teach young people to encounter God, when your life of prayer has evaporated into the fog. At first, when I was up hours each night breastfeeding and changing diapers, I told myself it was a season. I simply needed to find the time for prayer anyway, work harder, accept the sleeplessness. But I didn't. I fell asleep in the rocking chair, my baby in my arms, my chin drooped down to my chest. I didn't wake up early to pray because I'd been up late with students the night before. I was tired.
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