spiritual snoozing

I owe a good deal of my current sanity to sleep.

Namely, the fact that – cross my fingers and knock on wood – T has proved himself to be a good little sleeper thus far. His all-star snoozing, plus his older brother’s long afternoon nap, have made for enough down-time each day for yours truly to rest, recharge, and sometimes happily join them in dreamland.

I realize this is a pretty enviable state of affairs. T gave us 7 straight hours on Sunday night, and I woke up to Monday morning feeling so good that I could run a marathon (and rival Dolly Parton, but that’s another story). I fully concede that this is not the newborn norm: baby S didn’t sleep so soundly, and it took months of sweat and tears (on both our parts) to get the regular and reliable long-napper that he is today.

I also realize that this will be a fleeting season of synchronized sleeping. Schedules will change. T will awaken more and more to his world and become steadily less interested in dreaming the day away. And one dark and fateful afternoon (hopefully still years away) S will give up his nap for good. So right now I’m savoring each day as it lingers.

Today F has a work function till late this evening. So it will be my first solo run at the bath/bedtime routine. Knowing full well how ugly the combo of solo parenting and the witching hour can be, I decided to steel myself for the evening by indulging in nothing but napping this afternoon: no housework, no cooking, no running around to get Everything Done. Just sweet “sleep while the baby sleeps.”

T and I dozed peacefully while S snored in the next room. And when I woke up, slowly, dreamily, I delighted for a fleeting moment in that restfulness we’ve all enjoyed from a lazy afternoon nap on vacation, beach waves rolling through an open window: that was so good.

Regular rest has profound spiritual lessons to teach us. We were made for Sabbath’s slower, sleepier pace – precisely because we’re not meant to go-go-go all the time. Our work is important, but God never intended for it to define us completely. So in the image and likeness of our Creator, we, too, are called to rest, to slow down, to sleep.

I know this. You know this. Who hasn’t felt better after a long sleep or a longer weekend? And yet we still feel pressed to do more, to keep running 24/7, to cram just one more thing into our already too-full day. Busyness has its own seduction; our desires drive our agendas.

My spiritual life can be like this, too. Maybe you can relate. I struggle to carve out time for prayer in the midst of work, family, house, life. Then even when I do make time, I try to do-do-do: fill up my prayer time with the right words and the right routine. Rarely do I give myself the freedom of time and space to simply be with God. To listen and not just petition. To be still and silent. To rest in God’s love.

I thought about this as I roused from nap this afternoon. For one whole minute, I tried to just rest and listen to God.

Then my mind leapt to its default mode (now seen on the big screen in the preview for “I Don’t Know How She Does It” where the mother lies awake in bed, making mental to-do lists on the wall of her bedroom). I thought about dinner, laundry, bills – anything but God.

So I tried to go back and rest. I snuggled the newborn on my chest and sank deeper into the pillows. I listened to the stillness of the house and watched the trees bend in the breeze out the window. I thought about what it would mean to really rest in God.

And the image that came to mind was this:

Lord, my heart is not proud, nor are my eyes haughty.

I do not busy myself with great matters, with things too sublime for me.

Rather, I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child.

Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap, so is my soul within me.

Israel, hope in the Lord, now and forever.

(Psalm 131)

It’s easier to sleep soundly in certain seasons and ages than in others. But when we quiet ourselves to rest, we can find graces hidden for us there.

Like realizing the simple sweetness of what God has given us, all around us, in the life and the people and the work that is ours. While we were in the rush of do-do-doing, too busy to notice.

I’ll take a cue from the boys around me and sleep on that.

8 thoughts on “spiritual snoozing

  1. How sweet Room. I am so glad to hear that the boys are sleeping well for you… even if just one night or one nap…. eventually it will be more and then routines will take over and you will have your regular naptime for recharging. I promise it can happen… even with Bella! I know what you mean about having a quiet time… one thing I try to do every night before I go to bed, is just think of the good things that happened that day, or that I am thankful for… knowing full well that it/they are all due to God… and thank Him for that. I know that many days I don’t even have a minute to think of anything for myself, so I try to just take a few seconds at night.. and some nights its longer! Anyways, I love the pic of the little man! And love how well you are handling the two boys:-)

    1. So true – those routines keep us sane! And I agree that thanking God for all our blessings is one of the best ways to end the day. I often struggle with the same problem of trying to shut off all the other voices and to-do lists in my head at the end of the day, but when I try to quiet myself and think back on all the good moments that were a part of the day (even the awful days have a few!) I feel like I find myself again.
      And I am so excited to hear how #3 adds even more good things to your life in just a few weeks!!

  2. My first thought while reading this was, “what were those blood sweat and tears? please tell me how you got your toddler to take a long afternoon nap!” Then as I was dwelling on this while skimming the rest of it, I realized I was doing just what you said, busying my mind instead of being present to what you were writing, and really taking it in and challenging myself. It is so hard to rest during rest time. But good to be reminded to do so.

    And congrats on your good sleep moment. Come back and reflect on it, in times of less sleep.

    1. Elaine – this made me laugh! Glad to know I am not alone in my (near-constant) distraction! It is hard to rest during rest time. That’s good for me to remember when I’m frustrated that my child won’t settle down easily – it takes me a long time some days, too. And I like what you wrote about coming back to remember these good sleep moments during the bleary-eyed days. I stuck the “sleep log” from the weeks when I was working on helping S with his naps into one of the child care books I often refer to, so that I can always see it as a reminder to never take good sleep for granted – and to remember that even the worst weeks pass!
      But since you asked… 😉 I will tell you that the book that helped me so much with good sleep habits was Elizabeth Pantley’s “The No-Cry Sleep Solution.” I know every parent has different preferences and approaches, but I liked that she offered a range of different suggestions and just said “try what works for your family.” She taught me a lot that I had been missing about sleep cues and “normal” amounts of awake/asleep time for different ages.
      Of course, I know we’ll inevitably have to throw out the book as future children surprise us with their unique habits, but I credit it with our solid sleeper S so that’s enough for now! 🙂

  3. Thanks for your reply. I read that book in the early days, and again in the later ones…but I’ve been struggling to find time to skim it again, due to the lack of napping. But I need to dredge it up. Alas, now that my daughter is almost 18 months, I’m afraid my letting her nurse to sleep, which seemed to be a good attachment decision at the time, has made getting her to sleep any other way difficult. I’m afraid it will be like this forever, but of course it wont. And if I remember to let God into it, maybe it will be even different than I can imagine.

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