A huge unexpected blessing in our family's relationships: my husband Chad works from home. The girls and I love having him around, and he's patient with us. Through the years we've learned some ins and outs: we don't shower in the bathroom directly above his office when he's on Skype calls and he does his best to walk away from the computer at dinner time. His presence enables us to chat for a few minutes off and on through the day and sometimes he and I are able to sit down for lunch together. We both love a good intellectual discussion; current events, faith, parenting, whatever is on our minds. At the end of an especially windy lunch talk, one of us will often jokingly announce that we've just solved all the world's problems. If only! Both of us highly value quality time together, so it's been neat to see how God has used this simple pattern in our daily life to grow our marriage.
That said, as I've gotten older I've become increasingly aware that I need some space in the mornings. With kids, this can be a challenge, as I'm not an especially early riser. In my perfect world, I'd have exercised, dressed, had a quiet time and breakfast made by the time anyone else is up. Rarely are those days reality. Typically by the time the hustle and bustle of getting everyone on the bus (with healthy lunches, somewhat coordinating clothes, signed homework returned and hopefully brushed teeth) I'm ready for a bit of solitude. I've found this is the best time of day for me to curl up on the couch with my Bible to read and pray. PEACE. I need this foundation. My desire for quality time with other people will come later, but first I have to prioritize my relationship with God.
This morning as soon as the front door closed behind our children, my sweet husband was ready for an intellectual discussion. I was not. He'd been on Facebook, and had read a few opinionated articles about the hot topic of the day. A bit amped up, he was ready to dive right in. As sweetly as I could, while stirring my coffee, I said "no debates yet." But he needed to get some of it off his chest. After hearing him out for a few minutes, but really not responding beyond some head nods and smiles, he'd said his peace and wandered back to his office. After 17 years of marriage, you do learn to read your spouse's non-verbal cues. I grabbed my lukewarm coffee and headed to my spot on the couch, Bible in hand.
Recently I've been reading through the gospels. I started with John and and am now reading Matthew. Matthew has a special place in my heart because it's the first book I studied as a Bible quizzer in 7th grade. I love reading verses I memorized 20 some years ago and still knowing them word for word. This morning I was reading Matthew 9. It chronicles Jesus healing a paralyzed man, calling Matthew to follow Him, eating with Matthew and his tax collector/sinner friends at his house, answering questions from the Pharisees about fasting, healing a bleeding woman, restoring a girl life, healing the blind and mute. Teaching, healing, drawing people to him. The end of the chapter closes with a favorite verse, which became my main prayer "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field." (Matthew 9:38) A great reminder. The harvest was plentiful then, it's plentiful now. Our world today is certainly still in great need of healing. A 60 second review of the day's Facebook posts will quickly confirm that fact.
Not wanting my husband to feel completely abandoned from our earlier lack of conversation, I made my way down to his office. After some prayer and contemplation, I knew what I needed to say. "I need truth before opinion." At the start of the day, I want to hear from God before I hear from the rest of the world. "Wow," he said, "that's good, Honey. I get it." He shows me grace, this husband of mine.
This is by no means a new idea: beginning the day with Bible reading and conversation with God. Yet in our fast paced, always-on world, in my own life this can easily fall by the wayside. I'm not alone. Did you know that 80% of 18-44 year-olds check their smart phones within 15 minutes of waking up in the morning (http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/smartphones/480485 )? Yikes! I saw a friend post recently, yes, most likely on Facebook, that it was her goal to crack open her Bible in the morning before opening Facebook. It resonated with me, and after this morning's conversation with my hubby, it did with him too. I definitely want to be grounded in the truth of God's word and be reminded of the ultimate purpose for my one short life before reading the debate du jour or seeing who's invited me to play Candy Crush Saga. Even those photos of smiling friends, prayer requests and positive updates can wait.
My new challenge? Putting faith before Facebook in my daily schedule. If this makes sense to you, I challenge you to try it with me! My phone in and of itself isn't evil, but I'm all too aware of how quickly I turn it on and get sucked into distraction, sometimes even frustration. As I've matured in my faith, I've realized God has created this desire in me for some morning solitude help me prioritize quality time with Him. I can do my part by minimizing distractions, especially the digital ones! Can you relate? What distractions might God be asking you to minimize so you can hear Him first?