It’s that time of year: school is starting again, and women are preparing for the changes that a new school year brings. At home it means homework, projects, sports, activities, and packing lunches and water bottles. At work it means changes in customers, traffic, and many other things.
For me as the mother of two school-age boys, the biggest change is that the sound of children in my home will be gone for at least 6 hours each weekday.
No more laughter or whining, no more messes or creative activities only a child can dream up. I will be home by myself while my children are at school.
This is exciting, as I now treasure my alone time, but I did not always enjoy the seasonal silence school brings. The hustle and bustle of children change the atmosphere, and when they are no longer present, there is a distinct emptiness. The whirring of fans, neighborhood dogs barking—and wait, I can hear the birds singing from inside my home?! All of those sounds catch my attention and remind me I am home alone.
It is lonely when my boys are gone, and once I realized this I knew something had to change. Keeping my children at home was not the right choice for our family, so that was not an option to create noise. The radio or television certainly created noise but did not fill the emptiness. I tried many things to avoid being lonely until I realized I was running away from the One who never leaves me alone.
In all my attempts to create noise to fill the space, I was missing the most important part of my newfound aloneness: Jesus.
During those moments of silence when my home is devoid of children’s noise, I have learned I am far from alone. In the silence, Jesus is waiting. In this silence, I can finally stop and listen to my Creator, spend quality time with Jesus, and truly listen to the still, small whisper of the Holy Spirit. We read in 1 Kings 19:11–13 (NIV):
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
That voice of God that spoke to Elijah is the same voice that speaks to each of us. When we are still, we are able to hear it. God does not always speak like a freight train’s blaring horn; He often speaks gently, whether or not we are quieted to listen.
Although I relish time with my children, I have learned to seek out time without children’s clamoring. I find it is my time to strengthen my relationship with God and recharge my soul. Whether I am working in my home or involved in direct prayer and focused Bible study time, I can be an active listener for the Lord as Elijah was.
The multitasking ears I use as a mom to hear everything that happens in my home are the same ears I can tune to the Lord while I complete the tasks set before me.
Spending time with the Lord has made me desire more and more of this time. Now when my children go to school, I am excited for the silence as I wait as Elijah did at the entrance to the cave for the voice of the Lord. I am more like Samuel after he learned to recognize the voice of the Lord.
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Sam. 3:10 NIV).
I now wait quietly, and when I hear Jesus, I do as Samuel and listen intently. This process made me realize that even when I feel lonely, I am not alone. The Holy Spirit is always right there. I need to simply stop filling His space. Spending time with the Lord in the silence of my home changed my attitude and productivity each day. Focusing on what the Lord wanted to share with me in these times has produced a change in my listening to Him.
The more often I exercise the quiet patience He desires, the more in tune I am with His voice.
I look forward to getting my children off for their daily school activities now as it means I can pull up a chair to the table and with my coffee in hand say, “Here I am, Lord. What shall we discuss today? I am ready to listen.” And when He quietly responds, I know I am not alone.
Kelley Kain is a devoted wife, the mother of two wonderful boys, a full-time system administrator, a former high school teacher, and a Bible study leader. Join Kelley in our online course, Missional Living.