Redemption at Rest

Sleep is a beautiful thing.

Have you ever seen those commercials?

I’ve enjoyed my sleep for quite a long time. For a while, I would have said that I had to get eight hours of sleep every night, or I was a cranky bear. Often, I would actually count backward to figure out exactly when I needed to go to bed to get my eight hours, and part of the cranky bear problem was really just me being cranky about not getting the “full night’s sleep” rather than really, actually being exhausted in the morning.

God’s teaching me things. Apparently, he has stores of energy available for me if I would just live and breathe and pray more, and stop worrying so much about how much sleep I actually get or about how much I have to do or about whether I’ve taken care of all of my to-do lists. Or as my dear friend, Ayschia, once said to me in college, “If you’d stop making lists and just spend half your time actually doing the things on your lists, you’d get a heck of a lot done!”

In the past few weeks, it’s been more like 6.5 hours per night. Which is not too shabby. And, until last week, I was still functioning at quite a high level, and I was waking up to my “body clock” in the morning, which seems to wake me up earlier than I’m ready.  But instead of getting all fussy and checking the exact sleeping minutes that I got, I often thought, “Well… I might as well take advantage of this peaceful morning.” And those mornings were glorious.

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This morning, I slept in, and I missed the flowers waking up the way that I usually see them, and I missed the early-morning watering of our souls. But, I did need to sleep in, so… I took advantage of that. And sleep is very important, but so is nature and time to breathe and time to pad barefoot around my yard in the dew-filled grass with my pup. I have realized that this last week, when I was spinning out of control, I barely saw the sunlight… I was jetting off to work and returning when it was dark, each day, and my brain and my body and my heart got so, so tired and confused. It was an odd feeling and definitely not a good one. And, I am sure that there are many reasons why that happened, but one of them was that I wasn’t getting enough sleep, and another was that I wasn’t ever outside. I didn’t even know that it had been really hot in St. Louis, if that tells you anything.

God means for us to rest, and I’m trying to practice that now. But, I feel oddly out of practice despite a very recent refreshing summer.

When my parents’ sweet Riley Roo died, I remember my mom talking about how mentally exhausted she was. Not only had they been up with her at odd hours for nights before, but the day they discovered her cancer and put her to sleep, my mom said that she was spent. Her whole body just longed for bed. And after sleeping, I checked on her the next day, and she felt so much better. Things were still very difficult and emotional, but it was better. God allowed her to recharge a bit and put some distance between herself and that very awful day. You know that he was the one that created sleep, right?

Every time we rest, God is working redemption, restoring what was broken or low on fuel. I’ve never really thought before of sleep as a redemptive thing, except that I loved it and wanted more and more, and was sometimes REALLY thankful to go to bed or take a nap and wake up more refreshed. But God is in the business of restoring and making beauty out of broken things. And we are broken, even in ways as simple as running out of energy or getting tired and cranky, or feeling exhausted or uninspired, or having headaches. And God can heal, even through sleep. Every day, he gives us rest, both awake and during sleep, if we’ll receive it and look for it, and even sometimes when we’re not aware that we are. His graces are new every morning; we just have to peel the layers off of our blinders (allow God to heal and open our eyes), and we’ll see it. He’ll amaze us and fill us up with hope and gospel eyes, if we will just pray, and take deep breaths, and look, intently.

I’m sure I’m just on the very beginning of the journey of learning of God’s restorative and redemptive power, at work within us, but I’m going to keep praying to peel back those layers, for God to reveal more and more to me of his goodness and his grace. Of what He sees. Of His vision for his kingdom and how he is working that out, in his timing.

I’m keeping my eyes peeled, with His help. I suggest that you do, too.

And whatever way that you get rest, whether that be through sleeping, gardening, writing, and getting into the Word (like me) or in some other completely different way, be sure to do that, soon. Don’t delay. Take your Sabbath. And spend it doing the things that restore you, and praise God for that restoration.

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Praying while Pooping [because both were overdue]

Okay, I’ll spare you the poopy details… but let’s just say that I’m in a season of life right now where I’m thankful for a few moments to myself to take care of business… whether that be Godly or bodily.

So, I suppose that it’s right and fitting that I’m waking up earlier than everyone else as of late (everyone being Brian and Brooklyn) to take care of things… like praying and pooping. Not that I can’t do those things when they’re awake, but yesterday at the shop, I was waiting for a customer to leave the store, then B needed to use the restroom, then he asked me to run across the street to get a gift card for a friend’s wedding celebration, and then I said, “NO! Not yet!” and ran into that bathroom-turned-sanctuary before anything else could claim my time. This is life… 😉

If you have children, (or if you’re a teacher like me or in the medical profession, perhaps), I’m sure that you know this feeling well. You’re just thankful to remember at the end of the day that you actually had to pee five hours ago, and you’re trying to remember more often and more quickly so that you don’t develop “teacher bladder” and start early incontinence at a not-so-far-off date.

I remember dancing just inside my classroom door this past year during MAP testing and peeking out the blinds for a principal or a counselor or support staff or someone (JUST SOMEONE!) to walk by so that I could hop to the restroom. I’d smile at that kid behind me as they looked up at me for assurance. That one would raise his hand… and I’d walk carefully over to answer his question and hope that I didn’t fart next to his desk… Back to the blinds. Look nonchalant. Anyone there?!? [*sheer panic hidden by a trained exterior*] Yep… that happened. **it happens.

My friend over at More from the Mohrs (Click here! They’re amazing!) posted the other day on Facebook,

My dreams have been reduced to just hoping to go to the bathroom uninterrupted one day… #motherhood #dreambig

I get it. We’re thankful for our lots. So thankful. There is life where there was not life before. I’m busy, which is probably really good in this season of grief and joy all mixed together (every season?)… it’s just comical… and at times exhausting.

The other night, I lay over-wearied in my bed. I was so happy to lie down. My back ached. Their hearts hurt. I couldn’t form the words that I wanted to type. Brian was going to be a few minutes after me coming home, with Brooklyn. And I ended up writing poetry, which is much more rare than prose… but the words and lines came out disjointed and harsher than I had meant. The aching was taking over, negatively. And I had to remember that doctors will tell you that the pain and the pleasure points in your body are quite closely connected. That sometimes, when it feels really painful, if you can just push through, you’ll see the joy on the other side.

Take this tangible example: I hate to get my legs massaged because it hurts so badly. But actually, what’s worse (first) is that they’re intensely ticklish… and that’s my body’s way of fending off attention. “Don’t touch here! You won’t be able to handle it!” “Nope! Bad idea!” my body screams! When actually, if I relent and grip the massage table for a few extra seconds and tell the massage therapist not to mind my squirming and uncontrollable laughing and spasms of “Oh, my gosh! Okay… that’s fine. Nope, okay… I can’t stand it!” “No, really, I can. Sorry! Oh, geez!”…. that actually the “pain” and intense giggling and tears-squirting-out out of desperation will actually give way to the best leg-soothing, muscle-relaxing massage that I’ve ever gotten, if I’ll only just relent.

So, I decided to try some soothing and see what happened the other night. I stayed up later than I wanted to, because all I really, really wanted was to curl up on my bed with my face smooshed in that wonderful pillow that Brian introduced to me in college (stealing someone’s pillows, much?), and I would have just sunk right in and never wanted to come out… but as fate would have it, I couldn’t sleep. And that’s weird. Because I can always sleep. I could sleep curled up under a subway bench at the busiest time of day, given the right fetal-position and warmth. I could sleep in that bush, on a walk home from wherever, and I won’t even have alcohol in my system! And it’s like 2pm in broad daylight! … I could sleep on your most uncomfortable chair, or at a rock concert (yes, that’s happened, several times), or on your dog or your sleepy, sweaty face… but in my exhaustion the other night, I couldn’t sleep…

so I relented…

And I drew a bath, and I began to marinate… and God brought me relief and hot tissue-massage and a lovely peaceful thirty minutes or so… and also inspiration…

and when I got out of the now-cold-water, I had a new novel idea that I couldn’t wait to sketch out and put to note-form before it slipped out of my mind. In fact, I should probably take baths more often because that’s where my last novel idea was born… in a notebook, bathtub-side, trying not to get the notebook pages wet while I scribbled and sketched furiously.

That’s my spot, maybe… well, that and the bathroom. Apparently, I pray there. That’s where this blog idea spawned, today.

bathroom-blogger

(It’s a tshirt… for realz)

So, whether you’re near a bath or a bathroom, or you’re not, take a few moments and get what you need. Ruminate on your day, fizzle some ideas, excrete some not-welcomed thoughts, use that think-tank, rage against that latrine…

…or reach up in prayer from your body and bowel-laden position, and find some relief.  Because apparently those doctors are right… pain and pleasure are closely connected. Grief and joy are inter-mixable and can be experienced simultaneously and with depth of both. And I’m just trying to make sense of this world and its height and its humor while holding on to Him… and God’s bringing me prayer… and pooping.

Amen?