"You were very good," My mom told me when I asked her if I was like my kids when I was their age. "Very quiet," she added.
I was the first born, what else could I be but compliant? I knew that "be good" meant "be quiet." My brother, the second child, was full of energy. Once, when he was two or three, we were in church and he was being fidgety. "Be normal," my dad told him. Which meant "sit still and be quiet." Because quiet is normal, and normal is good.
"Honey, he is being normal," my mom replied. Normal for my brother was definitely not sitting still and being quiet. When my brother became the father of quiet and compliant kids (at least as far as I could tell) I thought "not fair! I earned the quiet kids, not him!"
I was thinking about this today because I used the term God Time when talking to someone about what I used to call Quiet Time. It's the time I spend connecting with God. Most often it looks like reading the bible and praying. Sometimes it looks like me listening to praise music while I'm getting ready. Or worshiping while driving to work. It can be listening to podcasts, or reading a book. When the weather is nice, it might be taking a walk and noticing how the trees of the fields clap their hands.
I stopped having Quiet Times when my kids were little. I believe the term itself messed with my expectations for what time with God is supposed to look like. I thought it was supposed to look a lot like me pouring over the Bible, studying it with the help of a concordance and lexicon. Or kneeling in prayer with a world map and color coordinated prayer calendars. It definitely had to be quiet to be good.
It didn't occur to me that my children would not go along with this.
Many times I fell into my chair or onto my bathroom floor, exhausted, and asked myself, "will I ever know quiet again?" Forget unrealistic Quiet Times with God, I just wanted some quiet time to myself.
In order to have a quiet Quiet Time with God for myself, I realized I would have to rise before my children woke. I soon became convinced that they had a mom alarm in their little bodies that went off and woke them up when I became vertical each morning. It did not matter how early I tried to wake up to get some quiet and uninterrupted Quiet Time, my children got up earlier. It frustrated me to no end.
I'm afraid I wasn't always very pleasant when my children needed me while I needed God. I was not experiencing the fruits of the Spirit at these times. I was impatient and not very kind. And then it occurred to me how they might be experiencing my Quiet Times. I imagined them thinking, "boy, when Mommy reads the Bible, she sure is a crabby pattie." (Spongebob was popular in our house at the time.) Even worse I imagined them thinking "I don't want to read the Bible because it sure doesn't seem very fun."
That's when I stopped having Quiet Times and started having God Times.
I determined right then to release my expectations of having quiet and uninterrupted time in prayer and God's word. Of course I still desire quiet, because I am an introvert and that's how I recover. But I realize that God is bigger than any distraction.
God doesn't need it to be quiet to speak to me.
And I don't need it to be quiet to hear Him. Or, at least not as an expectation of how to hear Him. In fact, I don't need to have a Quiet Time to draw near to Him. God Time is any time.
And that is very good.