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The beauty of sleep

On Thursday afternoon, I was feeling a little tired, so I lay down on the couch. It wasn't long before I had two Beagles with me, and I slept for more than two hours. Upon waking, I initially felt a little guilty. Should I have been doing something more productive? Guilty feelings aside, I felt great.

During the first two weeks of December, my time was dedicated to school. I woke early to study, and even though I was in bed early, I often did not sleep well because I had Greek and Hildegard running around in my head. I have trouble shutting my mind off when I'm busy. Once school ended, I had to rush to prepare for Christmas, so I didn't sleep well then, either. Busy days of visiting and cooking meant I continued to function while feeling that lack of sleep. It was a relief to rest.

It truly is amazing how getting enough rest is crucial to our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. I feel bad for people who struggle with insomnia on a regular basis. If I don't sleep enough, it shows, and not just through baggy eyes. If I know rest is good for me, why do I feel like it isn't productive?

Being busy is often viewed as a virture. The more we do, the more valuable we feel. At least, that is the common mindset. As Christians, we remember that we are created beings, and with that comes limitations, including the need for sleep. Though we may not like to feel limited, we are. Humans die; they get sick; they have physical weaknesses. Humans can accomplish a lot, but there is so much more we cannot do. We cannot do without sleep.

The sleep God gives us is a gift; for some, that recognition is more profound than for others. Sometimes, we overlook our limits by living without the right amount of rest. It is a victory to pull an all-nighter in school. But in the end, we must sleep. Even night owls need sleep.

Psalm 127 comments on the matter:

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

This is said in the context of recognizing that we ought to let the Lord be the ultimate builder of our lives. Just as we recognize that we labour in vain if we don't recognize that, thinking we can live outside of how God designed us is vain. There are times while we must forsake sleep to get something done, but that is not the ideal. We may think we're accomplishing a lot by forsaking rest, but in the end, we will feel it. 

Going without proper rest can have negative cumulative effects. My husband's job has been extremely demanding over the past few months. He isn't one to take sick days or slack off, so when he came home early he said it was because he was getting nothing done due to being exhausted. Those weeks of not getting proper rest had caught up with him. Fatigue makes us less able to meet stress and struggle. It can make us less effective as we serve God. And it can make us downright cranky.

The guilt I felt didn't last long. I knew I needed that rest. I did accomplish something on Thursday afternoon: I recharged so that I'm ready to serve.

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