Recently I faced three weeks of especially intense work and home commitments – late night video conferencing with missionaries across the world, a quick mission trip to Mexico followed by helping to run a weekend retreat. The pace left me feeling spiritually full and completely, physically exhausted.
Years ago, I would have gritted my teeth and kept going full speed, but God has blessed me with a husband who is super attentive to my needs. When I said I felt stretched too thin, Kevin asked his mom to watch our kids overnight, took me out to a nice dinner, let me sleep in so very late, and forced me to have an extremely restful twenty-four hours. I returned to my work and home filled with a new capacity to love my children and the work God has given me.
It reminded me of the sage advice my mom gave me as soon as I became a mother: “Sometimes the holiest thing you can do is sleep.” I used to think she was kind of joking, but now, even when I can’t get away for a night, I am firmly in the “Naps are holy” camp.
There will always be children to serve, chores to catch up on, emails to respond to, bills to pay, great books to read, spiritual growth to pursue — but if I am exhausted, I will do all of those things with less joy.
I have taken my mom’s advice to heart and am always on the lookout for a good time to squeeze in a nap. When my babies were little, I napped during nap time – often feeling guilty about the dishes sitting in the sink and the clothes unfolded – but inevitably waking up ready to be more lovingly attentive to my littles. Now I send the kids outside and grab a quick thirty minute nap on a regular basis (on a good day they don’t wake me up a dozen times to ask about snacks). I know I need rest, and so I sometimes even take a post-work cat-nap while Kevin throws the football with the boys.
So, when I read the story in Matthew’s Gospel of the ten virgins, wise and unwise, I noticed that even the wise virgins Became drowsy and fell asleep. They arose rested and ready to welcome the bridegroom.
I realize that as far as Biblical exegesis goes, this may be a stretch, but I’m claiming this Gospel as encouragement for drowsy moms everywhere to nap when possible, or prioritize rest in other ways, in order to continue to joyfully welcome Jesus into our homes!
As a matter of fact, my kids are currently happily entertained . . . I’m going to just lay down for a minute.