When Daylight Saving Time ended about six weeks ago, I did not set my clocks back. I hate how it gets dark out at 4 pm, how my children are cranky for a week while they adjust to the new schedule, and how much more time my kids have to spend inside because night falls just as soon as they are finishing school. This year, I simply refused to participate.
We now operate by our own time.
This has worked out brilliantly for me. Using Glover Time, I never have to be out of the house before 10 am because that’s only 9 am to the rest of the Pacific Standard Time minions. My neighbors think I am an incredibly responsible person when my kitchen light turns on at 5:50 am. Yep, that’s me. Mrs. Morning Person with the five kids all dressed and memorizing Bible verses at 8 am.
The only hitch in my little rebellion against the Time Lords is Wednesday night. Wednesday night is when the kids and I go to our home group Bible study. Wednesday nights start at 7 pm in “real” time, which means we arrive at 8 pm Glover time. 8 pm Glover Time is bedtime, the only thing holy next to God. This is problematic.
But last week, I was relieve to find that the kids did not feel the least bit sleepy at the start of our home group. They did not feel the least bit sleepy when dessert was served or when the movie started. They did not feel the least bit sleepy as we drove home and counted Christmas lights.
But when we rolled in the driveway at 10:30 pm, Kya burst into tears. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I don’t know!” she wailed. “I just feel like crying!” She could not get out of the van. She was sobbing all over her new lilac colored puffy winter coat with matching accessories.
Micah had developed a sudden paralysis as well, which was unfortunate because his seat blocks the sliding door. Everyone waited.
“I can’t waaaaaaaaaalk,” he moaned.
“Micah! Ouch, stop pushing! I can’t get out! MOM! Micah won’t move!” My older two made their contributions to our Hallmark moment.
“Micah, come here,” I said, yanking him (it was a gentle yank) out of the car and tucking him under one arm.
“Mom! Don’t hurt me!” he wailed loudly enough to cause our neighbor to come to his window to see which of my children I was beating in the driveway.
“I’m not trying to hurt you, sweetie,” I said while fishing in the van with my free arm for the missing twin. “Paul, come here,” I said.
“I so TIRED, Mom!” Paul sighed, slumping down between his seat and mine where I could not reach him.
“I know you’re tired. But you need to get of the car first and I’ll get you all tucked into bed. Come here, Paul.” Paul obeyed but his lower lip stuck out and trembled. I scooped him up in my other arm and attempted to carry both boys up the front steps, even though I am painfully—I repeat, painfully—out of practice when it comes to carrying both boys up the front steps at the same time. Kya followed me, crying like I’d just told her she isn’t a real princess.
“Don’t worry, guys,” I gasped, wondering if my kids really would dial 911 if I passed out, or if they’d just jump on me. “I’ll have you cozy in a minute.”
But it took more than a minute to get everyone in bed. Kya wept over her toothbrush. Paul collapsed in the entryway and refused to take off his shoes. Micah face-planted onto the steps leading up to the bathroom where he moaned, “I tired…I tired…I tired…” to which Faith replied, “We heard you the first time!”
It was heartwarming, really. As I crashed into bed, I realized I had not even started my blog post for the next day. Not. Even. Started. It was supposed to be on enjoying my children, and specifically, weakness. That was funny, because the last half hour, I had absolutely cherished the socks off those little dumplings.
I should write on exhaustion, I thought. But I wasn’t quite ready to talk about it yet. I was secretly terrified that I had to get up in the morning and do this all over again. I had to teach school and parent alone and be alone and try to write what was on my heart in a way that wasn’t preachy or self-righteous or…fake. Also, I hadn’t shaved my legs in at least two weeks. Suddenly, that seemed important.
Vince Lomabrdi once said, “Exhaustion makes cowards of us all.” If by “coward” he meant “paranoid schizophrenic,” then yes. That quote is spot-on. Exhaustion was wreaking havoc in my home.
The opposite of exhaustion is rest. That’s something I used to get before I had children. In fact, before I had children, I didn’t have to think about rest much at all because it was usually available to me whenever I needed it. Now, it is something I have to find.
In the Bible, rest is equated with blessing, promise, and God’s favor. It is hope for the future. But it is also a command. I used to wonder why God commanded us to rest. Rest is one of our most basic needs as human beings, like food. We need deep, daily, restorative rest. God doesn’t need to tell us that.
Or does He?
The command to rest highlights the fact that there is something in our nature that fights it. We get squirrely about going to bed on time and resting in quiet devotion to God. In fact, we tend to do everything else first. We see it in Psalm 23, where God has to make us to lie down in green pastures.
We see it also in the church. We love the Ten Commandments, except that one about the Sabbath. That one no longer applies to us today, we say, and dispose of the beauty, grace, and gift of the Sabbath along with the Law. We want to fix people by plugging them into programs or doling out Scripture verses when often what they need is rest, true physical and spiritual rest.
We see it in our homes. We stay up too late working, pushing bedtime farther and farther back while we struggle to fit more into a day than a day can hold. When we have time, we tend to equate rest and relaxation, or worse, rest and entertainment. They are not the same things.
Rest is a discipline.
It is taking the time to restore our bodies and our souls. It means going to bed on time. It means humbling ourselves in quiet reflection before God. Those two things do not happen in front of the TV or at a BBQ with the neighbors. Rest takes work.
One of the greatest things we can do to foster our enjoyment of our children is to guard our times of rest. The very practical aspect of making sure your children go to bed on time and get enough rest (note to self) will work wonders on making them more enjoyable. Ensuring your own rest time will make you more enjoyable.
When I am tempted to overextend myself and fight against rest (which is often), I think of Jesus. Throughout the New Testament, we find him slipping away, even though the crowds of needy people pressed in around him and followed him wherever he went. Imagine that. There he is, the Savior of the World, the one who can fix all their hurts, heal their diseases, raise their dead—and he leaves them with their hands outstretched so he can go take a nap.
I think Jesus knew the intimacy between body and soul. He knew it is very difficult to have a restful soul without a rested body. Rest was essential to his ministry and to his health. He understood that he could not help any of those people if he was not restored in body and spirit. So he slept. And he prayed. He took the time to rest so he was equipped to do the work God had for him.
Surely, if the Son of God can leave blind men and beggars to rest, I can leave the dishes in the sink and go to bed on time. Surely, if the Son of God can find time to pray when all the world was waiting for him to do a work, I can find the time to settle my soul down with my Savior, even if it means saying no to entertainment or relaxation or leaving before the party has ended. Surely, if the Son of God needed to rest in order to do his best for those he loved, I do as well.
Please join us tomorrow for Day 20: Food
For further thought:
1) Using a tool like www.biblegateway.com, search for the word “rest.” Notice how often the word is equated with a blessing. Do you view rest as a blessing or an obligation?
2) When was the last time you restored your soul by resting in God? Today, make it a point to get away with God for ten minutes. Pray. Rest in the promises of His Word. You will find yourself more equipped to love and enjoy your children for the rest of the day.
3) How is rest like an act of faith?
Bonus: Sometimes, we don’t get the rest we think we need and it can become an idol in our lives. If you have this struggle, you might want to read Counting the Hours, a story I wrote about that very thing.