Rest for the Weary

“Be still and know that I am God!” -Psalm 46:11

My kids don’t nap anymore. It all ended a little over a year ago. The realization struck me recently. My daughter had a crummy virus, so I kept her home with the understanding that she would at least try to nap. Once I shut her door, I nearly skipped to the couch with unbridled eagerness. This was the first time in a while I’d get to enjoy a nap as well. As I nestled under a throw, I lay there recalling how this had been part of my routine as a new mom. It was the sweet spot of my day; a treasured time that resulted in peace, rejuvenation and a fresh outlook—three things seriously lacking, yet in high demand during this span of my life.

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Before I truly understood the possibilities for this magic time, I thought my kids’ nap would be best utilized in getting more tasks accomplished. I’d try to pull off all sorts of things while creeping around so as to not disturb my little sleeping cherubs. Not exactly a practical endeavor when your modest, ranch-style home means all major activity, TV watching, talking on the phone, cooking, cleaning, happens within mere feet of the bedrooms. Even flushing the toilet at the designated sleep times was a big no-no. How I longed to give a piece of my mind to the obtuse architect of my 1960’s track home. Inevitably, the clang of a pan, a creak in the floor, a loud stomach growl or an annoying postman who ALWAYS rang the doorbell, would close the proverbial window of productive time with a clatter. No doubt someone would wake up, completely shattering the chance to get anything done.

Eventually, after a series of fruitless attempts, I ultimately gave in. I began to consider the possibility of enjoying some downtime. After getting the kids down, I’d tiptoe to the living room and get comfortable with a book. If I couldn’t do any chores, I would tackle some long overdue readin…  zzzzzzzzz.

Reluctantly, I learned to lean into the nap. While I felt mild guilt at first for not racing around the house crossing off something on my mile-long to-do list, I eventually learned to relax and truly savor this quiet, alone time. Soon, it became some of the most rewarding time of my day. Aaah the midday snooze, a little slice of heaven. I especially treasured this respite when I was pregnant and feeling like the rapidly growing baby was seizing all I had to give. I managed to wake up with renewed vigor. My toddlers experienced uninterrupted sleep, rendering them so snuggly and docile. Some of my greatest memories are those moments just after I’d hear someone make a slight noise from their bedroom. I’d find my child, babbling contentedly to himself, his face full of wonder, so soft around the edges, puffy even, a look that can only be achieved after complete abandonment to sleep. And he was so happy to see me. Rarely, there were tears and screaming. (I won’t mention any names here, but it might rhyme with barley.) I used to linger in the room with my fresh-faced buttercup, cuddling for a few extra moments. Interestingly, my take charge daughter uttered her very first word in the midst of one of those snuggle sessions. “Go!” she demanded while pointing at the door. As if to say, “Enough of your sappy sentimentality, lady. Let’s get on with it.” And sadly, we did get on with it. As my kids started approaching kindergarten, I realized I couldn’t force it any longer. So, to each child on their 5th birthday, I offered the choice of a nap or no nap. No shock here—they opted out of the nap program. Boo!

That blessed hour and a half reserved for dreaming immediately got sucked up by the world of busyness: dishes, dinner, laundry and on and on and on… But it wasn’t until recently with this last chance at the nap, that I started contemplating its real value. Rest is something that is mandated by God.

“On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.” -Genesis 2: 2-3

It can’t be a coincidence that rest gets such a big mention in the very first book of the Bible. Granted, scripture is referencing the Sabbath, but clearly, we see an emphasis on work being undertaken and the need for a breather. I don’t mean to say people should stop in the midst of their work days and nod off, but I am pointing out the importance of stopping and recharging. For me that meant a nap during some of the most physically and emotionally grueling times of my life. It meant a time-out from the soul crushing to-do list. I’m reading a book in which the author discusses our real need for slowing and paring down.

What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?”

― Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

He goes on to point out that Google has even installed “nap pods” so employees can catch some Z’s during the work day. But out of 50 people in a whole month on the calendar signup sheet, only one person took advantage. Yet, a midday siesta was built into many ancient cultures. It was even considered a physical necessity.

If you’re still squarely in the overachiever camp, consider something I heard recently. “Try to not let your DOING exceed your BEING.” The being part is the key and I understand it as being with God. Sometimes we’re doing, doing, doing, but we’re not just being with Him. I’m constantly guilty of this, trying desperately to check another thing off while my spirit is dying. Instead, the doing should flow out of the being with Him. And often being with Him means simply resting in Him. Years ago, if I hadn’t been forced to nap, I wouldn’t have experienced that heavenly, sweet relief from a tough day or been refreshed enough to appreciate those cherished moments with my kids. These are truly the God moments in our day. So now I’ve got a divine permission slip to get some shut-eye, even when my kids aren’t sleeping.  Although try finding a quiet spot in a small ranch home with a family. I wonder if google rents out those pods. But, I’d rename ‘em God Pods.

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