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  • Katie Smith

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

Updated: Dec 23, 2022

When my kids are asleep... This is when many parents say their favorite time of day is. While seemingly sad or pitiful, I understand the peaceful feeling related to sleeping babies. But let's be honest, everyone's heart is calmer when they know their loved ones are safe and sound. Even if you're waiting up for your new teenage driver to make it home, or maybe caring for an elderly parent who always confused when they are awake--your peace arrives when everyone is at rest, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

During the holidays, most people feel "stressed" or "overwhelmed" in large part because they are not getting enough rest. Either their kids are hopped up on sugar and waking up earlier each day to open the calendar doors, or they have jam packed their commitment, obligation, and tradition calendars, stealing sweet hours of needed sleep.

I had to tweak, erase, and throw out traditions in order to prioritize everyone's rest. But overall, the important things last, like watching Rick Steve's Christmas in Europe... clearly we would all feel better if we just returned to those simpler times where we had to sleep in order to preserve energy for working the land or walking to the market.

Regardless of your occupation, a good siesta always follows hard work. When I first lived in Spain, I thought the afternoon quiet hours were the sad reason for the slow economy, but I later realized they were the cause of good health. "The sleep of the laboring man is sweet whether he eat little or much, but the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep" (Ecc. 5:12) Europeans seem to have mastered the pause button as a way of life, and they lead their children to work and rest by example.

Recently, I met two different women who believe their children's easier upbringing was a byproduct of their good sleep. When they had toddlers and later teens the growth spurts rarely included outbursts because their kids got enough rest. A pediatrician also agreed with this notion, telling me that many kids who suffer from OCD or anxiety disorders are merely sleep deprived.

So What's a parent to do if they do NOT have "good sleepers"? Or in my case, children who actually think sleep is "a waste of time." Out of my four boys, two are "never tired," one is only tired "sometimes," and one enjoys sleeping any time of day (he is also the most self-aware).

First, I am thankful that my boys don't want to waste time sleeping and enjoy living, but I also realized that I am the one who needs the lesson on sabbath rest. While I have studied and enjoyed the discipline of stillness as a regular part of my day, I didn't truly take a sabbath. Good teachers aren't always the best students.

Sabbath rest is different than quiet stillness-- it is not a state of mind, it's a command. "Then Jesus said to them, 'The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath'" (Mark 2:27). When my "never tired" children saw me doing chores and errands every day of the week, they did the same. And if I stayed up late, they felt they could do the same. I recognize there are great differences between children and adult abilities, but our actions speak louder and clearer than any verbal lesson we try to get across.

Once we implemented quiet time, or siesta hour, in our home ten years ago, it remained and rejuvenates even the most stubborn under our roof. Now we've implemented a real sabbath once a week-- no errands, chores or work unless truly necessary and enjoyable. It's not a legalist-contract, but a disciplined-gift. My son who once did homework every day of the week, now gets excited to finish his work early in order to enjoy a full day of "fun."

In the same way that I can't sleep well if my children don't sleep well. I've noticed the same is true for them. When I rest, they rest. When we are wound up tight at Christmas, they are wound up tighter. So even though they might all be super sleepy on December 25th, I know it'll be worth it once we reach siesta hour!

Here's to making the most of working hard and resting in sweet heavenly peace this season and all year round!

~Sleeping Carefully and Carelessly

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