In Search of Solitude and Connection
I worked full-time in I.T. for many years, and before that worked full-time in accounting. I was also a full-time mom . . . because moms don't get to stop being moms just because they walk through the door at work. At 40 I quit the job I'd had for the previous almost-5-years, in I.T. at Fremont Investment and Loan, supporting and managing the predictive dialer and other residential lending software systems, and supporting and managing all the applications and systems in our retail banking environment. It was a major shock to step out of the adrenalin of 24/7 responsibility for systems critical to the ability of so many people to do their jobs. It was a major shock to step out of the satisfaction of seeing new releases tested and approved and rolling them into production successfully each quarter. I still miss it. (I think I've finally gotten over missing the identity of not being "just a mom" . . . but the reality of our culture's attitude there was a shock at first!)
But the last 3+ years have given me time to learn what it is to really connect with God and to really connect with people, and I find that so much more satisfying than I found the whole rat-race that our culture says is the key to lasting significance. The protestant work ethic has it's merits -- if that is what drives us, rather than mere greed and ego -- but it also has the shortcoming that it doesn't acknowledge that both Jesus' words and Paul's words were more about relationship and kindness than about achievement of any sort. (Since it isn't fair to give you a link here to the whole of the New Testament, I'll just repeat my links to John 14-16 and to II Corinthians 12:8-10, and add one to The Sermon on the Mount.)
It takes time to get to know God. It takes time to get to know any person. And time living with them and working with them -- focused on things together rather than focused on each other -- is part of that equation. But you can't leave out real time spent together, focused on each other. And while I always had a daily "quiet time" of prayer and Bible reading, that just doesn't compare to real hours where I can learn to listen to God's voice and know Him in new ways that satisfy unlike any other person or any achievement. And the same is true with my little boys and with my friends: love requires time and attention spent upon each other. "Love" can keep a relationship going without that time, but to grow in love and intimacy (instead of merely adding years to the count of how long the relationship has survived) requires time spent together enjoying each other and enjoying the things we have in common, and learning to enjoy the things that are not common passions but only passions to one of us.
For a long time my "time with God" could be in the early mornings and late evenings -- 6 a.m. or earlier, and at 9 or 10 p.m. -- but these days that is time spent on Noah and Brooks, so I am having to adjust my routine so that I don't miss out on my time with Him. (We leave for Noah's tutoring at 6:15 on Tuesdays and Thursdays this year, and for baseball skills training at 7 a.m. on Fridays -- which means I am focused on the boys from before 6 until after I get home from their school between 9 and 9:30 a.m. And our evenings are spent reading together with them in bed listening -- a huge joy of mothering! -- until they fall asleep, which sometimes means until after 10 p.m. and always means until after 9:30 these days.) I do need hours of solitude to pay attention to God alone, and I can't sacrifice the whole core of my day to have them (fulfilling responsibility is certainly part of obedience and intimacy!) . . . so I am struggling to settle into something where I feel the satisfaction of connection with God that I knew for the last few years. I know all my time spent connecting with my boys or with anyone else will break down and become less effective without my real time alone with God.
I have noticed how much of our evangelical literature and consciousness is focused on either strengthening our marriages and child-rearing or upon "fulfilling the mission of the church", and how little of the current stuff is focused upon simply KNOWING GOD. I suspect we'd need a lot less instruction in these big themes of ours -- and be a lot more effective at living out what we "know" -- if we spent more time teaching ourselves and each other to enjoy God's presence, both individually and corporately. Because God is a person, and He does speak to those who listen, and He does empower us for action . . . both the action of a call to mission and the action of continuing in long-term obedience even when it is tedious.
And the "tedious" ceases to be tedious when it is compelled by love for One Who pours out love and intimacy any time I take time to sit down and listen.
So He is my first thing on my priority list, even when He can't be first on my calendar or task list . . .
Because God can be known, and nothing else satisfies our need to know Him.