Energizer Bunny6:11 PM
I grew up reading devotionals, magazines and blogs by and for the frazzled homeschool mother of five under five. (Anything seemed more appealing than solving a geometry proof after lunchtime.) Two life lessons stuck with me.
Number One. Life is hard and exhausting -- bone-numbingly, brain-shatteringly exhausting. Exhaustion spills out of every pore and crevice. No escape, no break, no mama nap time.
Number Two. In light of the fact, forget about complaining, stuff the exhaustion back into the crevices, find joy and just accept the fact that at this point in your life, God doesn't want you to sleep or rest or get away.
Both could be rolled up into one terrifying warning: Me Time -- anything that involves getting away from life and people -- is the biggest, biggest sin for the woman who wants to serve God. Grin and bear it. Grow up. It's known as spiritual maturity. Only wimps crack under the pressure.
I don't have five kids under the age of five, but at age eighteen, with a full course-load, friends who depend on me, spiritual issues, unnecessary drama and the struggle of trying to tie a smile around the whole lot, I crack easily. I'm tired. I literally cannot keep up with life. I fall asleep skimming my heritage reader for the 8 am class quickly approaching.
For most of these past two semesters, I adhered to the Frazzled Mama Mantra -- don't you dare bend. Don't break. Go above and beyond. Dig deeper into your friend's problems, into your own problems, into your chemistry homework and find the joy buried at the very bottom. I stayed up later, listened longer and skipped lunch and then dinner and then an entire night's sleep and then naptime....
Nothing got any better -- issues remained, exhaustion ruled over everything and homework didn't magically disappear.
Then one day, the greatest tragedy of the semester occurred. Brace yourselves: I slept through every single one of my Wednesday classes. A reminder alarm for a meeting with my English prof kept me from snoring away an entire Wednesday. I stumbled around my room, chanting over and over, "Bailey doesn't sleep through her classes, she doesn't, she doesn't, she's not that kind of person."
I'll spare you the exact blow-by-blow of my emotions. Suffice it to say that my friends found my narcolepsy far more entertaining than I did.
I praise God for that too-quiet alarm, that utter exhaustion that kept me fast asleep. Why? I learned the truth about rest, about breaks, about getting away from craziness, people and problems: the allegedly selfish me-time forbidden in every single homeschool handbook is absolutely crucial to a proper relationship with God.
God created my body and my need for sleep just as assuredly as He created the new spirit within me. The "lesser" things like emotions, stress levels, brain and tiredness? He cares about them. In fact, once upon a time, He mandated His people to observe a day of total rest from the world's cares -- on the pain of death. This wasn't just an intellectual or spiritual rest where the community sat in circle and sang kumbayah. It involved physical rest from washing dishes and daily jobs. Perhaps it was because I pushed myself beyond normal physical capacity, but this strict taboo on physical work sat wrong with me. It seemed legalistic at worst and unnecessary at best.
My accidental day off solved the confusion. Think about the act of sleeping -- deep, deep sleep. You're totally helpless. You're trusting that nobody's going to bludgeon you in your sleep. You're not working, striving or solving problems (though, to be honest, I have completed theses while dead asleep). You've surrendered your ability or need to figure things out or act. This position of physical rest mirrors the position of spiritual rest. Surrendering of control. Trust. Stillness. Silence. Listening.
It seems selfish, really -- I accomplished nothing for anyone while sound asleep. I accomplished nothing for God, even. Sleep was purely for my benefit alone (though a well-rested Bailey might theoretically be more pleasant for the general population). Still, God created humanity with this built-in need to rest and do absolutely nothing.
Long story short: I learned that selfish "me-time," when done properly and for the right reasons, is actually an act of trust and surrender. When I refuse to allow people's problems to take up every single free moment in my schedule, I give up control of their lives and my part in their lives. I surrender my idea of my awesome ability to solve problems. I allow God to work directly. When I slave away on a paper that just isn't turning out perfectly, turning in at midnight instead of pulling an all-nighter becomes an expression of surrender: "So I'm not as smart and wonderful as I thought. I'll sleep off my stupidity and hopefully awake with fresher ideas." When I'm in the midst of crunch time, taking time to pray, talk about Jesus or worship with fellow believers displays a trust that seeking first the kingdom of God really does add all these other things.
I'm not strong enough to be an Energizer Bunny. So I sleep, and I take breaks, and I say no to things that drain my energy. Sometimes finding God's strength in my weakness means quitting the scene entirely to curl up in armchair by myself and breathe the free air -- figuratively and literally speaking.