sleep deprivation

posted in: on being a mom, the Dahls | 0

It has been two weeks since we welcomed little Adrienne into our lives.  She’s sitting next to me sighing and humming and smiling in her sleep.  She’s pretty much awesome.

Truthfully (and it’s with guilt that I admit this), that’s about all she does.  Eat, sleep, poop, with the emphasis on sleep.  Seriously, she has cried maybe 30 minutes of her life.  I’m not complaining.  It’s more like awe – and holding my breath – wondering how long this can possibly go on.  So I thank God for the blessing of not being hollered at through all hours of the night and try to enjoy it while it lasts.

But the reality is, it has also been two weeks since I have had more than a few hours of sleep at a time.  Despite the lack of crying, there is still the necessity of feeding this little one, and every coo and peep in the night has me awake, listening, wondering if I should get up now and feed her or try to hold off a little longer.  And I am tired.

Since she was born, I have battled this tiredness.  Knowing how much worse labor and delivery could have been, it seems like there should be no need for recovery time.  Knowing how much worse this transition home could have been, it seems like I should be up-and-at-em, ready for “real life” to just resume.  So it has been deeply frustrating and guilt-inducing to just feel…tired.

Over the nine months or so of this pregnancy, I’ve been learning a lot about this idea of capacity – how much I can handle – what it looks like to have healthy boundaries and where do those boundaries become a refusal to rely on Jesus and trust in his Spirit to sustain me.  It’s been on my blog list to write about it.  Someday I may get to it.  But now I’m having to really flesh it out in the practical day-to-day.  God has created me with a limited capacity.  I need sleep.  Sleep is a gift.  But my need for sleep is intended to remind me of my need for Christ.  I may be able to function on a limited amount of sleep, but I cannot do life without him.

How often does sleep become my god, in which I put my hope and trust?  How often does my lack of sleep become my excuse to neglect my God-given responsibilities, to refuse to die to myself, to refuse to exhibit love and grace to those around me?

And yet it is here that I wrestle because, well, I’m tired.

I spent some time reading today in Luke 4, where Jesus was led into the wilderness for forty days.  This statement always kind of makes me laugh – it seems rather obvious: “And he ate nothing during those days.  And when they were ended, he was hungry.”  I wonder if Jesus’ need for food was frustrating to him.  Or his need for sleep.  He knew a different life – a better one – yet in humility he made himself like us, with all its limitations.  Yet when tempted to make food, he responds, “Man shall not live by bread alone.”

Do I believe that?  Do I believe the words of Christ can sustain?  Do I believe his grace is sufficient, that in my weakness His strength is made perfect?  Or do I believe that enough sleep, enough coffee, enough planning, enough whatever, will give me what I need?

I am so weak.
I am so tired.

But man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Which is why it was so sweet to continue reading in Luke, where Jesus reads the scroll of Isaiah 61:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And then says, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

He made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, being obedient unto death, even death on the cross.

He did it for me, knowing I couldn’t do it for myself.  And it is in that strength I must walk, knowing that the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead now lives inside of me.

But still, while I live in this limited world, I must sleep.  It can be so frustrating.  So discouraging.  And yet it makes my longing for heaven that much greater, and my days on earth that much sweeter knowing that the hands which sustain me are not my own.