It's Ok to Sleep

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Permission to SleepI love the end of daylight savings time because for a few weeks, I feel like an incredible person. I can wake up at 6am or 7am and feel great! My sleeping patterns haven’t changed, nor did the number of times Gator wakes up at night. In fact, nothing changed—except for that taunting number on the clock. I’ve heard the taunting all of my life. “Early to bed, early to rise . . .” “You need to have personal devotions early in the morning, it’s the best (and only ) time . . .” “You can’t be a good Christian if you don’t rise early . . . “ “Discipline, discipline, discipline!”

I have always needed a little extra sleep. It is just part of who I am. I’ve tried to change that fact, oh how I’ve tried! But in all my attempts, what I’ve found is that I am limited to early rising two, maybe three, mornings a week or it begins to take a hard toll on my physical and emotional health. As a child, an early morning schedule rendered me a miserable human being and landed me with pneumonia. I’d like to say that tendency has changed in adulthood . . . but in all honesty, it hasn’t.

What about you, dear momma friend? Do you feel pressured to rise early, to be the “great Christian mom” who can rise early and do it all with a smile on your face?

While there are some who can rise early {like my husband!}, there are also those of us who just can’t and feel guilty about it. I love the early risers and I think it is truly wonderful to be able to do so and spend that first part of the day with the Lord—but it just doesn’t work for me. And I’ve carried so much guilt for that throughout my life.

So to the momma nodding her head and feeling that guilt, here is what I’ve discovered . . .

  1. I am hard-wired to need a little extra sleep. It’s a physical limitation of mine—and that’s ok. Flying is also a physical limitation. Imagine how much more I could get done if I could fly while doing it! But I can’t fly, and I don’t beat myself up over that. I am learning to accept the fact that I need to sleep.
  2. At this stage of my life, I am still waking at night with Gator and it takes me about 30 minutes to fall back to sleep. If he wakes twice a night, I lose an hour of sleep. Until he sleeps through the night, I won’t pressure myself to change the schedule that works for us.
  3. I am a better woman, wife, and momma with sleep. I am pretty good at controlling my emotions—emotions usually don’t control me—but add in a lack of sleep and my usual control begins to waiver. I snap a little more, I cry a lot easier, I get angrier, say things I shouldn’t, lose patience with the boys, and I just don’t feel . . . good. Sleep enables me to be a better woman, wife, and momma and it actually helps me accomplish more during the day because I am at my best.
  4. Devotions. I think this is what causes the most guilt. God wants that first hour of the day, you know, and if you can’t give him that . . . well . . . Here is the thing, Jesus came to free us from the burden of the law. In Jesus, it isn’t about the regulations, it is about the relationship. Can I personally do my devotions at 6am? No. But I can spend time with the Lord at 8am while the boys eat breakfast, or during naps, or before bed. Yes, sometimes I get interrupted, sometimes they take over and I don’t get much time at all—but I honestly think God smiles when it happens. I can hear the whisper to my heart, “It’s alright, take care of the gifts I’ve given you. I’ve got a radio broadcast this afternoon that will minister to you, a song that will stir your heart at just the right moment, a lesson from Gidget to show you My heart for you, and we can stay in communion all day long.” You see, it isn’t about the “first hour of the day” regulation, it is about our fellowship all day long. I may not always get in a lot of Bible study (or any at all), but God speaks momma to my heart all day long as I steward what He has given me.
  5. Fellowship is about desire, not obligation. In fact, if you feel obligated to spend that first hour of the day with the Lord and it is a burden to you, I would dare to say . . . stop. Look at your own life, do you want a friend who feels obligated to spend time with you or one loves fellowship with you? You surely desire a friend who loves your company! I daresay God feels the same. 6am is an obligation to me; whereas 8am (or 1pm, or bedtime!) is a joy. I’ve learned not to focus on the obligation, or the time, or the amount of time spent, but to instead focus on constant communion with the Lord all day long.

Are my devotional times always ideal? No, not always. There is a lot of chaos, some spilled milk, crumbs on the table, waves of giggling from the two boys, and sometimes a diaper needs changed in the middle; however, I love the fact that my boys see their momma seeking the Lord in the midst of all the chaos. Yes, someday I dream of changing the routine and having a quiet time all to myself; but for now, this is my season—and it is chaotic and busy, there is spilled milk (a lot if it some days), and I don’t have a lot of time to myself. And for this season, I need a little extra sleep to be at the top of my game all day long.

To the momma who identifies with this and has carried that guilt—can I encourage you to let it go? It’s not about those stiff, unyielding regulations, it is about your relationship with Christ! Find a routine that works for you during this season and grow in Christ.

If you feel guilty about needing a little extra sleep {or a little time to yourself}, let me ask you this: how do you feel when you know your son or daughter is exhausted?

When I know that Gidget or Gator is completely worn out, I rejoice when they sleep in. Not because it frees me up for awhile, but because I know they need refreshed. I want them to feel rested, to feel good, to be able to put everything they have into their day of play. I breathe a sigh of relief and tell my husband “I am so glad he is sleeping in. He needs the rest, did you see him? He was so drained yesterday! I hope he can sleep for as long as he needs.”

Our relationship with our children and our spouse is often a reflection of how our relationship with God works. Is it so far of a stretch to think our Heavenly Father—who sees us pour everything we have into these days—feels the same way? I don’t think so. So rest dear momma friend, give yourself permission to sleep.

The bow cannot be always bent without fear of breaking. Repose is as needful to the mind as sleep to the body . . . Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength. It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less. -Charles Spurgeon

{Post linked at The Deliberate Mom}