Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday: What God Taught Me About Sleep

I could probably write several posts about our experience the past few weeks with switching Sweet Girl into her "big girl" bed. And the journey is not even over. But, for your sake and mine, I think I will just write this one and share with you an important lesson I've learned, and hope to keep with me.

We are now going into our third week of this, each week having it's own difficulties. What I learned during the first week, probably the hardest so far, is what I want to share today. I'm not going to go into details, just some background information you need to understand how my lesson came about. Basically that is that we were all up at all hours of the night, every night.

Sleep is very important to me. When Sweet Girl was younger, I'd add up how many hours I got (or didn't get). I'd do the same for her. I'd analyze. "If she sleeps x more hours then that's y for her and z for me." Fortunately, this time, I was able to refrain. That was helpful, but it didn't completely keep me agonizing about the lack of sleep and dread the coming day with all its activities and challenges. As hard as it was to get Sweet Girl back to sleep, I then had to get in bed and put myself back to sleep. And instead of drifting back off, I'd lay awake - alert and anxious - and pray and pray to be able to fall asleep.

When morning came, I'd beg for grace and strength for the day. And you know what? I got it. Not only did I not feel exhausted, crabby or frustrated, but neither did Sweet Girl - at least it seemed. She was her normal, perky self (most of the time) and I was a joyful, grace-filled version of myself (most of the time). All week little things had helped me try to keep things in perspective. Things like:  "At least she's healthy." and "Christ rose from the dead, He can surely get a tired, pregnant mama through the day."

Finally on Sunday morning, after putting her back to sleep, once again, around 6:00 (you know, when the sun is rising and birds are chirping), I tried to go back to sleep. By now I had noticed that no matter how hard the nights were, the days were fairly normal and enjoyable. So as I began my rounds of, "Lord, help me get a couple more hours!", a thought came to me: "If God is giving you strength through the day, why worry about how much sleep you get?" I realized that all my frustration from Sweet Girl's lack of peaceful sleep is from my desire to get the sleep I think I need. Yet God had proven to me all week that I don't need sleep. I need Him.

All week I had been praying for sleep, which in my mind was strength, when instead God was choosing to strengthen me in a different way. While I was praying for the miracle of her (and me) sleeping through the night, he was giving me a different miracle of grace and joy during the days.

In Matthew chapter 8, Jesus performs many miracles, then sleeps through storm on a boat. His disciples panic (um, that would be me!), and He stops the storm. Then when He heals two demon possessed men by letting the demons go into pigs, the people ask Him to leave. That would be me again. I didn't want God's strength, I wanted the security of a good night's sleep. But that is no security. Only God's grace and love is secure. I accept that now, and I pray I can apply it to all parts of my life.

What I learned can be summarized in this quote, one I try to remind myself of often:

"Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be strong people.
Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks.
Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle."
~ Phillips

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