...so does the lazy man on his bed. (Proverbs 26:14)
Last year, when we took our kids to the zoo, I learned that lions spend a lot of time lying around. In fact, they will rest for up to 20 hours of their day! Lazy beasts, huh? But no, they sleep this much because the animals they eat typically don't want to be caught. So those four hours that lions work are four hours of hard work.
My mother is a lioness (and a Lyons). She needs a lot of sleep, but when she is fully rested she gets more done in the hours she's awake than most of us have the drive to do in twice or three times the time. Getting up early doesn't lengthen her day, it just makes her tired. Instead she takes that extra hour or so of sleep (more if us kids have been keeping her up late asking for advice) and then she can just go, go go, attacking those projects like a lion brings down an antelope.
I am not a Lyons anymore and I never really worked like a lion. However, it is only the past year or so that I've realized this. I used to work very hard to get the proper amount of sleep to maximize my energy during the day. Nap times were enforced religiously and boy did I struggle with my attitude if people around here woke up before the approved hour. But then something a good friend just mentioned in passing about her studies in Proverbs changed my life forever.
As she read through that book of wisdom she realized that many of the references to sleep also referred to the lazy man...or the sluggard...or the fool. She described how she had been counting hours of sleep and allowing herself to be tired and grumpy if she got less sleep than she thought she needed. But she could have been describing my own habits. If I stayed up late and then certain little people got me up early (and the two always go together, don't they?) well then I would be sluggish and foggy all day. My friend made me realize, though, that it didn't have to be like that. I was letting myself be tired. It was all in my head.
Wait a minute, back up, hold the phone! There are times and seasons when the hours of sleep just don't add up. I've had newborns, I've had children with croup, I've been to midnight showings. Some days are just meant for piling on the couch reading books together or laying on the floor and letting the kids pile on you while you close your eyes for just a minute or two. But at the time I heard this I had two kids who slept till 8:00 am and took a synchronized two hour nap (thanks to the aforementioned religious sleep training). I was pregnant with the third, but I was thriving and fit.
I've always thought, "If God wanted me to see sunrises he would have an 8:00 showing." This paradigm shift came in the summer and I began to wonder if maybe I was missing out on something. Besides I thought it was silly and inefficient to install room darkening shades to keep half the morning light out and then turn on electrical lights for hours in the evening. Why not just get up with the sun and go to bed with the sun?
So I gave it a go. I took some early morning walks. I weeded and mowed (okay, once or twice) in the cool hours before breakfast. I began reading the Bible regularly while the house was quiet and still. Sunrises sure are stunning! Each one different, each a reflection (and blurry at that!) of heavenly glory...
I do not get the perfect amount of sleep to balance the demands of the day. But I have stopped relying on sleep to get me through the day. "God," I say, "if You bring us an episode of croup on the night we stay up watching a movie and cuddling on the couch, well then You're just going to have to help me through it. And God, if the baby chooses that morning to wake up early, then please be in my smile as I wish her a good morning!"
There just isn't anything like motherhood to make a woman realize her own inadequacy. But thankfully, there's a God for that.