My childhood home was a 1000 square foot raised ranch; five people, one bathroom. My mom’s favorite form of relaxation has always been taking nice, long, hot baths. Thus, it was not unusual for my siblings and I to unabashedly enter the bathroom as needed while Mom was soaking in the tub. I mean, isn’t that what the shower curtain is for?
The thing is that we didn’t necessarily enter to use the facilities. At any point in Mom’s bath, there may be one, two, or all three of us just talking with Mom: laying on the floor, sitting on the hamper, or lounging on the (closed-lidded) toilet seat with feet propped on the side of the tub as if in a Lazy Boy… just talking.
One day in my adolescence, Mom kind of got a little frustrated with the audience situation. “Why do you all follow me in here when I take a bath?!”
Speaking from the heart, I responded, “Because it’s the one time we can talk to you without you going anywhere.”
Mom was a little taken aback, thought for a bit, and simply said, “Oh…”
From childhood through young adulthood, whenever I thought of this story, I recalled the honest yearning in my heart to have uninterrupted quality time with my Mom.
Now, as a mother myself, my whole understanding of this family story changed. I cringe at my Mom’s lack of personal, private downtime. In fact, now, when I read the story of Jesus healing the paralytic in Mark, I hear something that I never noticed before becoming a mother.
I read this as a mother thinking – OMG, poor Jesus! Not a moment to himself! I mean seriously – there was no room in the house so they opened the roof above him!?! SERIOUSLY?!
Mark, the shortest, most action-packed Gospel is the quickest, easiest read. Go back to just before this scene into Chapter 1. After Jesus finished his 40 days in the desert, he begins his ministry, calls his disciples and started teaching.
Verse 28: “His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.” I mean, come on. Isn’t Mom the most popular, called-upon person in the house?
So then Mark’s Gospel explains that Jesus leaves the synagogue and goes to the house of Simon (aka Simon-Peter) and cures his MIL of sickness. And word spread. The next thing he knew, “The whole town was gathered at the door” (Mark 1:33).
The WHOLE town? At this point, part of me is wondering what my Mom was complaining about with just three of us in the bathroom… But only the sarcastic part.
So Jesus gets up very early the next morning before dawn, and goes off to a deserted place to pray (Mark 1:35). Because he knew that this was his ONLY CHANCE to be alone, refresh, recharge, and reconnect with God through prayer.
And (for real, scripture says this): “those that were with him pursued him” (Mark 1:36).
The poor guy. Giving everyone everything he has to give. Selflessly, completely, without hesitation… and he can’t catch a break. Wakes up early to recharge with some quiet prayer time, and those that were with him pursued him.
But wait, there’s more.
Upon finding him, his disciple Simon-Peter tells him “Everyone is looking for you” (Mark 1:37).
So not only are his plans for a moment of peace thwarted, but those closest to Jesus are actually giving him a guilt trip for not being MORE available.
I mean as a Mom, I can soooooooooooo relate to Jesus in this situation.
I can relate to the frustration of thwarted plans for alone time, but I can also learn from Jesus’ example.
No matter how many times his plans were thwarted, Jesus pursued time alone to pray. Even Jesus needed downtime to quietly reflect, refresh, and recharge. Those precious times alone with God gave him the strength, courage, and wisdom to be fully present and available to the children of God. Because, as he told Simon-Peter, “For this purpose have I come” (Mark 1:38).
Jesus knew how important downtime—time to pray—was to being able to fulfill his purpose.
Especially as a Mom, I need to follow Christ’s example. Girlfriend’s weekend / Mom’s Night Out / Alone Time, here I come!