Saturday, June 23, 2007

Joy and rest

For me, one of the biggest deterents to joy in my life is the lack of sleep. When I am tired, the world looks meaner, things looks hopeless, and everything goes wrong. Sometimes all it takes is a nap to make everything look a tad rosier. Just ask any new mama how they feel once the babe sleeps for a long stretch at night: like a new woman!

So, it's no surprise that John Piper lists: "Get the rest and exercise proper diet that your body was designed by God to have." I am sure he put this here for the sheer common sense of it all, but it deserves mentioning, especially to us mamas.

How can we get the sleep and rest we need? We can try to go to bed earlier than we normally may do. (Uh, I am preaching to myself, here.) The old saying by Benjamin Franklin: "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise" is a good reminder. However the Psalms say this:

"It's useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don't you know He enjoys giving rest to those He loves?"

~Psalm 127:2 (The Message)

C.H. Spurgeon says this about that passage:

"It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, etc. The Psalmist is exhorting to give over undue and anxious labour to accomplish our designs. The phrases in the Hebrew are "making early to rise" and "making late to sit" —not "up", but down. This means an artificial lengthening of the day. The law of work is in our nature. The limitations of effort are set forth in nature. In order that all may be accomplished by the human race which is necessary to be done for human progress, all men must work. But no man should work beyond his physical and intellectual ability, nor beyond the hours which nature allots. No net result of good to the individual or to the race comes of any artificial prolonging of the day at either end. Early rising, eating one's breakfast by candlelight, and prolonged vigils, the scholar's "midnight oil", are a delusion and a snare. Work while it is day. When the night comes, rest. The other animals do this, and, as races, fare as well as this anxious human race."

Another way to incorporate rest in my day is to build breaks into my day. I am almost religious about my Rest Hour. I need it to get energy for the dinner hour and bedtime routines.

Other than that rest hour, I think it's important to take time out to schedule other "breaks" throughout your day. Sometimes in the morning, I will lay in my bed for 10 minutes, after the breakfast dishes and kitchen is cleaned up. This allows my body to "recharge" for a bit. I can also take other similar breaks throughout the day...a quick rest on the couch, doing nothing except closing my eyes, or a cup of tea in a chair. Rest doesn't have to be sleep. I find that if I do not take this time out, then I am going, going, going, and come rest time or bed time, my body collapses with ache and tiredness from all that I did that day.

Of course we shouldn't overlook the power of the Sabbath. I have had to make some Sabbath rules for myself. I am seeing more and more the importance of getting all my Sabbath work done on Saturday, so that Sunday can truly be a day of rest. (Sunday does not have to be your "Sabbath" if you are a church worker. You can certainly pick another day for your family or yourself.) This is a great article concerning preparing for the Sabbath. Sabbath means "to rest".

As I said earlier, lack of sleep or rest can certainly rob my Joy. I am not one of those high-energy people. You decide what rest is needed for your own body. When I don't get the rest I need, I find it hard to function, and it's hard to have energy for the huge task of motherhood before me. So, remember to find that time to focus on rest, so it's easier to focus on Him. Just another tool to help us fight for Joy.

Mary Cassatt "Breakfast in Bed"


Holly said...

Hey Andrea,

As we approach our time to leave full-time ministry life, I have been reading and thinking of how to incorporate a Sabbath.

It is terrible, dreadful, even, but it seems almost impossible to have a "Sabbath" as a ministry family.

My husband has worked for years six days a week for the church. No two days off in a row, ever. Monday has been his day off, but it is very difficult to make that a complete "Sabbath" due to the reality that there is business to attend to. There is always something: Doctor's visits, things to fix, lawns that need care, errands that MUST be run. Since we live about an hour from a city, almost any errand involves 2 hours of driving. It's been really, really hard - but I am aware of many young ministry families who have NO scheduled days off. Really, it is wrong for a church to allow a minister to do this. Some demand it, though, feeling that a minister should never be off. So what to do? It is very, very hard. We never did come up with any good balance - using the Sunday afternoon as such the best that we could, and any free Mondays as well. (Yet another flaw to modern ministry as it is currently structured....and I'm not trying to whine. There is much good, just is - what it is.)

All of that lengthy explanation to say - we look forward to a Sabbath, to structuring the rest of our week around that! How exciting!

Andrea said...

I appreciate your input from "the other side". *smile*
I am glad your family will be able to practice a Sabbath. Looking forward to seeing how you will do that, now.

tonia said...

Good, good stuff here, Andrea. I love the Spurgeon quote. That idea has been in the back of mind we extend beyond the allotted hours for work and steal from rest. Thanks for bringing it to the front.

AIMEE said...

The Spurgeon quote is reminds me that electricity is a wonderful convenience but it also gives us the temptation to stay up late and make the night hours like daytime work hours. I have always been a night owl and it's only been in the last 3 months that I am finally going to bed by 10:30 (some nights even 9:30 which is shocking to me!) and I wake up so refreshed at 6:30 am...and I had never seen that time of morning in a long long time!!! We have a rest time every afternoon...the little ones nap and the older ones read does wonders for all of us and we come back together happier, more patient with each other, and ready to be creative again. I am trying to let go of driven-ness and just "be" more. Thanks for the encouragement!!

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Summer has been awful for us this year - everyone, including little ones going to bed too late. But the novelty has worn off now and I'm back to a more civilized schedule for everyone (after I finish this comment here at 11:10 p.m.....). Rats.