Some of you may just completely relate to some of the following sentiments at one point or another in your life (especially you moms!)
Beginning to see a theme here? ;)
SLEEP. As a child we hated it. We just KNEW we were going to miss out on something EPIC if our bodies slumbered. We fought. Pleaded for one more sip of water or that "other" favorite book. Somewhere around highschool things switch and we can't get enough of it. We sleep weird hours, hang out with friends until all hours of the morning and by college our bodies still love sleep and we'll deprive one day and indulge the next out of bare necessity (or the desire to once-again not-miss-out on something.)
Then we get married and have jobs and a "married couple life" in which we are only responsible for each other and ourselves, and perhaps the cat or dog. We can still keep weird hours, stay up till 3 and sleep in and other than a dog licking our face or a cat sitting on our stomach, no worries right? We are in complete control of our sleep habits.
See where this is leading? Haha. Read on!
It starts with pregnancy. All of a sudden, you are exhausted. All the time. But you can only seem to sleep during the day. At night your body wants to scream at you about your HIPS. Your BACK. Your old shoulder and elbow injury because your joints are getting loosey goosey. Heartburn, crampiness, gotta pee every hour or I just might pee the bed like a poor toddler...yeah. But, I am still in control of my sleep. (sort of) lol. Then comes the end of pregnancy where we can sleep EXCELLENTLY one night and HORRIDLY the next. Seems like our bodies are preparing us for some extreme...something. Labor, birth, newborn snuggles and frequent feedings and shushing and rocking and bouncing and crying and anger and...whew. Ok. Still here? Let's move on.
Your first beautiful creation is snuggled in your arms, mostly sleepy, perfect, beautiful. You are EXHAUSTED, ran the biggest triathlon-feeling in your life and now they are ALL YOURS. your baby! You are a champion because you are MOTHER. Your husband is a champion because he is FATHER.
Then, you bring them home or snuggle back into your bed.
You quickly realize that as this little blessing becomes more aware of life outside the warm dark cocoon of their womb that you may have alot less control over your former beloved habits. Oh eventually you break into a routine and find what works great for your family...but then when you think something should be working or you want something to work and it WAS and now it isn't...what the HECK are we to do?
Some people (not me) are GREAT at routine, schedule, helping others transition to this awesome schedule, etc. For me? It took much longer to figure out where I fit into all of this jumble bumble that is parenting at night, or laying awake at night thinking about nighttime parenting. (because my husband and I felt it was important for our family to help our kids to sleep better without the method of allowing them to cry them selves to sleep at night. The results may take longer, but both of our kids sleep great now too!) anyhow, that isn't the point.
I quickly realized a few things about my baby and myself:
1) I am responsible for helping a new little life to adjust gently into this world, and it doesn't change overnight.
2) I am very selfish when it comes to sleep. Especially when it comes to my sleep-deprived-breastfeeding-in-awkward-positions-and-my-back-is KILLING-me-this-CAN'T-be-worth-it-state of mind.
3) I became entitled. I DESERVED sleep. Now, there isn't anything wrong with sleep and getting enough of it. God designed our bodies to function on getting rest and recharging. Which means that if something isn't working, try something different! We are all different and God created us to function uniquely. We are NOT a one-size-fits-all-human whether it's parenting or deciding we want to be pescatarian rather than vegetarian.
4) I made sleep into an idol. I was relying on my own strength, reminiscing about how much comfortable uninterrupted sleep I got before, sleep-deprived and not thinking straight, thought I wad entitled to get sleep, or anything else in which I came first, I got (and still get) a pretty clear wake-up call from God.
I am not entitled to ANYTHING in this life. That's right. Freedom? Sleep? Religion? Nope. Nothing. Not even my own life.
If I am placing such a focus on my comfort and sleep (which are important, don't get me wrong!) instead of letting the Lord fill me up so I can pour myself out to a little one who needs me and wants me or a husband who needs me and wants me then something isn't right.
It took us a bit to find a good rhythm for out little family (oh...they LIKE bedtimes?) but then even the "right" things didn't always "work" all the time, which left me (and my husband!) exhausted, frustrated, angry, short-tempered, at a loss, may be even compromising what we held important to our family values because I just.couldn't.take.it.anymore. Impatience and selfish and human on my part, anyone? It is STILL at times a struggle!
But you know what changed?
MY HEART. you know, that loving, wishy-washy thing?
The Lord began speaking to me at night in my exhausted, hormone wave, frustrated haughty and entitled heart to speak of something more, something higher.
Here's where I get really vulnerable with you all, friends.
I WAS TRYING TO BE THE GOD OF MY LIFE INSTEAD OF THE STEWARD. That's right, instead of being a steward of my time, my little bundle of joy, my husband...I had been consumed by this obsession to control what I wanted and HOW I wanted it and HOW it was gonna go down. MY way, MY timing, MY rules. I became too concerned with the fact that my son wasn't sleeping right and less concerned with the fact that he was new at all of this and needed some help, which requires more discipline (discipling! What a great word!) and unselfishness on my part to help him. Could take a week, could take YEARS, but that's where I was at. For us, it was creating a simple bedtime routine that was gentle and a general flexible Schedule for when that all went down. And it didn't ALWAYS happen, it didnt ALWAYS work, but we began seeing slow good results. But I'm not here to talk about what "formula" worked or didn't work, I am here to share you my heart and what was going down on a heart-level. Because there will always be another formula that works for someone else better, a method that someone else will swear better by.
In my exhausted selfishly-ridden angry heart, I had to give up my rights. My comfort. My ability to "control" what I wanted. The way that it was before. My temper, my lack of understanding, my nastiness.
I needed to replace that heart with one of crying out to Him saying "OH LORD, I NEED THEE EVERY HOUR!" and rely on him when I lay awake at night, when I am getting up for the BAJILLIONTH time to comfort a little one having a rough time sleeping, or needing to eat more frequently at night because God designed my body to give more nourishing milk at night than the day. To admit when I need help and ASK for it from my sweet husband or friend (because for as much as we wish we were all telepathic...we aren't, lol) but most of all to lean on the Lord and ASK HIM for rest. For strength. For patience and a heart of GRACE and GENTLENESS and LOVE. "COME TO ME, all you who are WEARY and heavily-burdened, and I will give you REST." Notice He didn't promise us more SLEEP if we came to Him, but He DID promise REST. Something which goes deeper than mere sleep.
REST for the weary heart. REST for the parched spirit. REST for the aching bones and suffering muscles. REST for the troubled mind and restless heart. Where do we find this REST that goes deeper than our REM cycles?
JESUS. Go to Him. Lean on Him. Dwell in Him. Graft yourself to His grace and love. Ask Him for wisdom and strength and grace to go through this next part of your journey and take into account the SUFFERING and triumph he accomplished for our sake. He has never or ever will give up on You. He has
made a way for you to draw everything from Him that you could ever need for this life and more.
To be ministered to by the Lord in times of utter weakness, when we can't take what we're dealing with anymore, when we can't see straight...HE IS HERE. Worship Him...give Him yourself.
Is giving up our rights and our desires (which can even be for GOOD things!) easy? HECK no. But it is the BEST way. You will still be tired sometimes, but your heart with the Lord will be right. Your heart with your family will be one of nurturing and life-giving and not one of spiritually-devoid leftovers and dashed temporary dreams.
Take it from a loser who is still learning to lose so that I might gain what is better.
I love you all. I hope that some of you can relate, I sure still can, and will most definitely have to revisit this post in the months and years to come.
Sleep is always overrated.
REST is never to be underestimated.
Now get out there and REST.