While It Is Yet Night

by Veronica on March 17, 2011 in Self-control

Is it just me, or do words like “fatigue,” “weariness,” and “sheer exhaustion” seem to be this month’s theme?

Maybe it is the perpetual gloomy weather and frigid temperatures of winter catching up with us.  Maybe we are still in the midst of nursing, or recuperating from lingering winter illnesses.  Maybe we are finally recovering from the busyness and constant activity of the holidays.  Maybe it is that pesky hour of sleep lost to Daylight Savings Time.

Or maybe…that’s just life.

Sometimes, the simple act of living is exhausting!

But, as Jasmine pointed out, this is to be expected!  And, as such it is something we must prepare for.

Why, then, does it so often catch us off guard?

Why do we allow the weariness and fatigue that accompany the hard work of motherhood and homemaking – of life in general – to sneak up on us, and sinfully color and control our words, our attitudes, and our actions?

We snap impatiently at our children.  We whine and complain to our husbands.  We casually dismiss the disorder and disorganization of our homes.  And we defend ourselves and justify our sinful behavior, because we are so tired, or because we didn’t sleep well the night before, or because it is a certain time of the month.

I struggle with chronic insomnia, which, I have discovered, often triggers severe migraines that render me utterly useless for days on end!  So, please believe me when I say, I get it! I realize that there are a number of physical or medical conditions that legitimately sap our energy, create fatigue, or necessitate extra rest.  That is not what I am addressing.

“I have heard of women who pride themselves on being ‘night people.’  That means that they have trouble getting up in the mornings because they come alive at night.  They may stay up till all hours reading, watching television, or pursuing some sort of interest.  The next morning they are too tired to get up and care for their family….These women are not ‘night people.’ They are lazy and selfish. Who would not rather stay up late to do whatever they please and sleep late the next day?” (Martha Peace, Becoming a Titus 2 Woman, pgs. 116-117, emphasis mine)

But, what about Proverbs 31?  “Her lamp does not go out at night.” (v. 18)  But, notice that she also “rises while it is yet night…”(v. 15)  The point is, she works hard – all day long.  “She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. (v. 27)  Her time is not spent selfishly, frivolously frittering away precious time.  Instead, she uses each moment efficiently and productively, looking for ways to benefit and bless her family.

Does this describe us – our habits? Are we working hard, from morning into the night, to bless our family?  Are we falling into bed exhausted after a full day, and rising early the next morning to do it all again?

Or are we more like the lazy man, who excuses himself, and rationalizes that “just a little more sleep” won’t do any harm?

“How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest…” ~Proverbs 6:9-10

We may protest that the situation is only temporary.  And, after all, it is just “5 more minutes.”  But, 5 minutes can quickly turn into 30 (or more!).  And, day after day, morning after morning, we wake up only to discover that we are already behind…before the day has even started.

I don’t know about you, but there are many mornings when it seems as though my bed has developed its own gravitational pull!  And, on those days, I definitely need the prodding of these words:

“Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.  Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.” ~Proverbs 6:6-8

Please understand, I am not suggesting that we sacrifice exercise, a healthy diet, or adequate rest in order to clean or work on projects around the house!

But, instead of being an excuse for sinful behavior, our constant need for rest should humble us.  It should serve as a constant reminder of our utter dependence on God.  But, so many of us act as though it is expendable, as though we can do without sufficient sleep each night.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” ~1 Corinthians 6:19

As children of God, our bodies do not belong to us.  Therefore, we must be good stewards of what we have been given – that includes our health, our time, and our energy.

If we consistently make poor choices in what, or how much we eat, it can quickly deplete our strength and energy, rendering us lethargic, lazy, and incapable of fulfilling the roles and responsibilities that God has given us.  How is that glorifying to God?

Proper rest is essential to being available–both mentally and physically–to serve our families.  How does it glorify God to spend our evenings selfishly pursuing our own interests, but then spend the day exhausted, lazily neglecting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of our family and our home?

“A homemaker may claim that her house is a shambles, because she’s just not mentally wired to be a ‘multi-tasker.’ The Bible labels sloppy slothfulness as a moral issue: ‘Through indolence the rafters sag, and through slackness the house leaks’ (Ecclesiastes 10:8).” (Mark Chanski, Womanly Dominion, pg. 49)

Exercise, physical activity, staying in shape, is profitable.  The first part of 1 Timothy 4:8 tells us that “bodily training is of some value.”  It can help us to maintain our health, our energy, and strengthen us to accomplish certain tasks.  But, along with verse 7, the second part of 1 Timothy 4:8 prevents us from placing excessive attention on our physical body.  “Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in everyway, as it holds promise for the present life as and also for the life to come.”

Yes, we do need to take care of our physical body.  But, in doing so, we must remember that we are never commanded, or even encouraged, in Scripture, to take care of ourselves in a selfish sense – to serve ourselves.  Our aim in taking care of our physical needs should be physical and mental preparation for service to God and others.

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” ~1 Corinthians 9:27

I do not want to be guilty of teaching my daughter to do what I say, not what I do.  I do not want to verbally extol the virtues of Proverbs 31, while living out the vices of Proverbs 6.

Yes, there are times when a little extra rest is justified – even necessary!  But, as wives and moms, we have been called to serve.  We must realize that we are to take care of ourselves for the express purpose of pouring ourselves out.  Each day…sometimes each moment…is a battle against laziness, idleness, and indolence.  Each day we have an opportunity to obey God’s command to serve Him by serving others, and to give of ourselves sacrificially.

Even when I am tired.

Even when I don’t feel well.

Even when I just don’t want to.

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” ~Philippians 2:3-4

———
By Veronica @ A Quiet Heart

Veronica

Veronica is pastor’s wife, a homemaker, a homeschooler, a mommy…and above all, a sinner saved by grace.  Amid the chaos and clamor of life, it is her desire to have a quiet heart. One that is passionately obedient to God’s Word, and content in the roles, responsibilities, blessings, and trials that our Heavenly Father, in His infinite wisdom, has seen fit to give… Veronica blogs at A Quiet Heart, challenging herself, and others, to think biblically, obey passionately, and live contentedly. She can occasionally be found on Facebook and on Twitter @AQuietHeart.

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{ 37 comments }

Any T. March 17, 2011

Whoa! This blog really convicted me. I love to stay up late and read, work or blog. 🙂 I never questioned whether this was sinful behavior, but I do struggle with rising early. Thank you for this thoughtful, prayerful blog. You’ve given me much to pray about.

Lisa Grace March 17, 2011

Wow, thank you so much for this. I have been convicted. But also very encouraged!

Jennifer March 17, 2011

Well said! I have recently made an effort to go to bed at a decent hour. It makes a world of difference. I’m rested and ready for the day ahead of me. I’m in a better mood, and not short tempered due to lack of sleep. Nothing I was doing was worth staying up to lose precious hours of sleep.

Thanks for sharing!

Jennifer @ http://justpeachyindixie.blogspot.com

brenda March 17, 2011

Yes, we are studying the sluggard in school right now. I do not believe that anyone is “hard wired” to need to stay up all night. It’s a bad habit. That’s it.

But while I was reading this I was thinking of other types of rest. My grandmother did her hard “up and about” work during the morning while it was cool (er) and then in the heat of the day, sat down to sew or snap beans or whatever. We need to learn to give ourselves a chance to sit down and work on something easier for periods of time during the day. I think we run, run, run too much and then depend on caffeine to get us through the evening and then when bedtime rolls around……

it’s a bad cycle to get in! We can’t wait until bedtime to get rest. And there are ways to rest and work at the same time.

Darlene March 17, 2011

Thank you for the godly exhortation! He is our strength in our weakness!

Adoption Mama March 17, 2011

Resting in Christ…I am weary so many days, yet my Savior gives me the incredible strength to keep going. He is the One who helps me to put off self and put on His joy.

Michelle in FL March 17, 2011

Convicting! Thank you, I needed to read these words this morning!

Arielle March 17, 2011

This speaks right to me this morning. Thank you for writing this and cutting through my excuses and selfishness. God bless you.

Carletta March 17, 2011

Wow! This cuts to the core, but I really needed to read it. Thank you for these words of wisdom.

Julie March 17, 2011

This is definitely something I’ve been struggling with lately, and it makes me even more cranky – when I realize how cranky I’m being! For Lent, I “gave up” getting anything done after 10:30 and forcing myself to go to bed, “adding” a good habit. It’s not always exactly on time, but the effects have been great. I’m getting more sleep because I’m sleeping when the kids sleep and am waking up much more cheerful. I can’t use the excuse “I’m not a morning person” when I want to teach my children to greet each day with joy!

Jessalyn @DesiringVirtue.com March 17, 2011

This is a very encouraging and CONVICTING post! Thank you.

Sara Dick March 17, 2011

Conviction is kicking me in the hiney right now. I have to say though that I disagree with Brenda, about it being merely a bad habit and not wiring. I have struggled with insomnia my entire life and have always had difficulty getting up in the morning(even as a little child). I see evidence of this in several of my children. HOWEVER wiring does not excuse sinful behavior. I have pockets of besetting sin all over the place. We all have areas that are more difficult than others to tame. Laziness and lack of daily diligence is my biggest weakness. My wiring is there and so is yours, God may or may not re-wire you.
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,a a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Lisa Suit March 17, 2011

Thank you so much for this post it is EXACTLY what I needed to hear! God Bless!

Janice March 17, 2011

So convicting Kelly!! I am a night person since middle school, but what Martha Peace said, is a punch in the stomach. I need to refocus. Albeit, I am not perfect, but that should not be an excuse to keep sinning HABITUALLY.
I need to get serious. Thank you.

Babychaser March 17, 2011

Well put! Thanks for this wonderful reminder! Too often I’ve been getting to bed late for one reason or another… then am grumpy or struggle to get going for tiredness sake the next day. I’m excited to say that I actually popped right up when the 7:30 alarm went off this morning. A fluke I know, but a goal just the same! 🙂

Blessings!
Babychaser

Vivian March 17, 2011

Best post I’ve read in a long time. Really got to the heart of the issue.

Jessie March 17, 2011

Wow, this is exactly what I needed to read today. I was just complaining about not getting enough sleep (even though I was the one who went to bed late), its that time of the month, etc. and my poor husband just says sorry and helps clean up the mess I left in the house last night. I felt bad immediately and with these words I see how wrong I am. Honestly I should do my part and with joy just as my husband does his and more. Thank you!

Joy March 17, 2011

Wonderful, wisdom-filled article! 🙂

Jo March 18, 2011

In saying this, we must not feel guilty sleeping in occasionally eg on the weekends or having a lazy day (restful) – we do not need to be up early and busy all the time. And likewise, staying up late occasionally is also ok, I like to do this on a Friday evening.

gabe March 18, 2011

Thank you for this wonderful post! Very convicting and encouraging!

Carrie March 18, 2011

Wow! I have never thought of it in this light before. “Why do we allow fatigue to sneak up on us?” That is such a good question! And for me, half the battle is expecting something and making a plan for it. When you know something is coming, it’s so much easier to deal with it. Why haven’t I figured out on my own that being tired just comes with my stage of life? I need to learn to work through it and past it to not only enjoy but thrive. Thanks for this reminder.

Anon y muss March 18, 2011

Actually, there is a disorder called delayed sleep phase syndrome in which the person’s body is set to be up at night and sleeping during the day. It is not a matter of laziness, it is an actual medical condition. I know because my husband has it and he was completely miserable until he got a new job that has him working at night and sleeping during the day.

Shame on you ladies for judging people you don’t know. Many people called my husband lazy and worse, just like you. He’s not lazy, he’s a very hard worker- he just needs to work at night.

Andrea March 18, 2011

Beautiful post! I find much of my work, as a homeschooling mother to six (including 2 very little ones) is accomplished when others are sleeping or my husband is working on a project in his wood shop. So,working in the evening is not uncommon for me..therefore my day makes me tired..however, it’s a tired that is a blessed and sacred tired born out of fulfilling my calling.

God Bless.

Heather @ The Blessings Pour Out March 18, 2011

I love the Phillipians verse. It was good to be reminded of it. We all need to think of others more highly than we think of ourselves. Imagine how wonderful it would be if we were all watching out for each other and reaching out with caring consideration in every situation.

I also suffer from migraines, as well as sleep difficulties, and I often wake with a headache which makes it VERY hard to get out of bed. But with five children whom I am homeschooling (a sixth already graduated), and four of them ages 1-7, there is a necessity to rise that keeps me motivated to get out of that bed. It is hard, but it has kept me in line. I am motivated to get up by the fact that when I rise in spite of feeling poorly, my children see my consistency and self-control and willingness to serve them even when it is hard. There are those days when I absolutely cannot rise as early as usual, and I use those to teach my children self-discipline for themselves and to do for others when times are hard. I believe the Lord can use all of those moments, if we will but let Him.

From a medical standpoint, I personally have been having issues with my absorption of nutrients, as well as imbalances with both my thyroid and adrenals. During a particularly difficult time, I could honestly lay in bed until four in the morning, unable to sleep, even though I was tired. Of course, I was exhausted the next morning at 7 am, and likely to get a headache, if I didn’t already have one. It turned out my potassium was low, and once that was treated, I was able to sleep and MUCH less fatigued. Various mineral deficiencies and conditions can cause insomnia and fatigue. If someone you know is struggling with insomnia or fatigue, I highly recommend that they seek bloodwork to check on basic levels. For some it is just a bad habit to stay up late ( I can do that, too, if I have been so busy with kids all day the night is the only time I have to myself, and I am working on that), but for others it can be a result of a medically/nutritionally/naturally (meaning herbs) correctable condition.

Thank you for the motivating post.

Blessings,

Heather

Randi March 18, 2011

I wasn’t sure if I was going to respond to this post or not. Finally, I felt that I had to respond. I read this article the morning after I went to bed early with a tear-streaked face. I was emotionally exhausted, and I felt like such a failure. My husband stroked my hair that night as I wept into my pillow, and he was distressed that I felt the way I did. He made it clear to me that I am a good wife and mother, and that life is just tough. There are so many expectations upon women and mothers these days to do it all, and to do it all perfectly, that there leaves no room for God’s grace, and no allowance for forgiveness. I want to say, when I read this article the next morning, I was so discouraged. Especially when I read this part:
“Does this describe us – our habits? Are we working hard, from morning into the night, to bless our family? Are we falling into bed exhausted after a full day, and rising early the next morning to do it all again?”
I even sent this article to my mother, reaching out for some clarity and wisdom on this subject. She read the article, and was less than pleased with the message it was sending to mothers. We mothers work hard, and we do it all alone, with no adult companionship to make our work lighter and more enjoyable.
This kind of article is the kind of message that both my mother and my husband wish mothers like me would never read, because it burdens us with guilt that is not our own. I love Raising Homemakers, and visit this site often, but I hope that contributing authors exercise more discretion in the future and try to remember the tender hearts of the godly women that are on the other end of the computer coming here for encouragement in their vocation.

Sarah Mae March 18, 2011

Hi Randi, I’m the owner of RH and I want you to know that I completely understand and I feel much of how you do. I’m praying *with* you today, as I am a tired mama myself. There are seasons and rest and so much grace to fall into.

Rhonda March 18, 2011

Wow…I came over here because a friend posted about your giveaway and I wanted to see what the site was about- it intrigued me. However, I can honestly say I won’t be sticking around (which might be the point)

This comes across as very harsh and ungentle to me. While I can certainly see reminding moms to not stay up late- the tone taken in this is very self righteous.

Jes jones March 18, 2011

I liked verits press on fb!

Amy March 18, 2011

I do not suffer from insomnia, which my sister now does, so I have a lot of empathy. But for years I used the “I’m a night person” excuse for staying up late and getting up late. I was convicted about eight years ago and made a big change at getting up early. One of my mentors said, “Set your alarm and no matter what time you go to bed, get up at the early time. After a few days or weeks your body will let you know you need to go to bed much earlier.” She was right. After about a week of 5 1/2-6 hour nights, I was no longer a night person. Getting up earlier made my body crave going to bed earlier. LOVED this article.

Mama Mirage March 18, 2011

Wow… I am sorry but I agree with Sarah Dick, Anon y muss, Randi, and Rhonda. Some of us evil lazy “night people” actually stay up all night doing things that will bless our family rather than playing. Some of us can sleep for 13 hours (if that were possible…) and still be tired during the day because our bodies actually have genuine trouble functioning during the day. SOME people have sensory problems and things like the noise, bustle, temperature, and hustle of the daytime overload their circuits and cause them to shut down. SOME of us have laid awake in our beds all night with insomnia and then dragged our sluggish bodies through our day every day for 5, 10, 15, 20 YEARS or more, trying against our own biology to force ourselves into the “habit” of actually being able to mercifully sleep at night like ‘normal’ people. If I allowed myself to believe these words I would want to just go kill myself. Seriously if I can try and try and pray and try this hard and long and still be ‘indulging in sinful laziness and bad habits’ then really what’s the point.
My husband comforts me, tells me I’m doing a great job, that he couldn’t do what I do day in and day out, that he wishes I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed and undereffective. If it weren’t for this encouragement and unconditional love, I could not go on. They are lies of the devil that I’m irrelevant, that I’m lazy, that I am just not good enough, that it’s pointless to go on if I can’t fix this, that REAL women of God function well during the day even if they haven’t slept the night before, that I have to always be showy perfect and never have dark circles or move slower than superspeed… When I hear the devil whispering these things in my ear and I get so down I can do nothing but cry, then my wonderful husband comes and gathers me in his arms and tells me how much I mean to him. I didn’t have a perfect upbringing and there were alot of things I never could fathom about God’s love until I saw through my husband. God bless this dear man for showing God’s love to me in my darkest hours!

Kara March 19, 2011

Thank you…this post really made me think…

It’s a tight-rope walk isn’t it…?
Our side–trying to make the best practical decisions possible for who God wants us to be (may be different for some than others)…
His side–convicting us and helping us when either via necessity, or sin, we find ourselves beyond our limits.

I love the quote I’m going to post below because it reminds me that even if I have a good excuse for being wiped out and tired etc. If something yucky spills over…it’s just because it was already there and the circumstances helped spill my cup to show what was already floating in the dredges.

“Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in the cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am.”
~C.S. Lewis

Keri Brown March 19, 2011

I, like many other commenters, am struggling with this post. I find many valid points in it, yet despite what I’m sure were the author’s best intentions, I do worry that it will continue to incite shame and unnecessary guilt in many readers who are truly just doing the best they can do.

I suppose my prayer would be that every sweet lady reading this would take it first to the Lord in prayer before taking it to her heart, asking Him if there is anything in the article that He would like to bring to her attention. If so, if the Lord gently shows her that she needs to improve in some area, then the article has served its purpose. If not – if the Lord doesn’t seem to be speaking to her as she seeks His heavenly feedback regarding this topic, then she can move on, knowing that for the moment, at least, He is pleased with her in this area.

And that IS my prayer tonight.

Mrs. Organ March 19, 2011

I would love some practical tips on getting up early. Sometimes ven after 8 hrs of good sleep I still feel the gravitational force of my bed. I used to be mOre of a night Person but wanted to go to bed when my husband does since I love falling asleep in his arms and don’t want to wake him. Even though my 3 month old sometimes gets me up at a decent hour if she doesn’t wake up to nurse I often sleep as late as ten or 11. But I love getting up early and making breakfast for my husband and getting so much done before she even wakes up. I’m diabetic so my diet is constantly improving out of necessity. Any other advice?

Husband & Father Tim March 20, 2011

My wife directed me to read this (comments & all), and I have to admit that my hope in the contemporary Christian community was starting to be restored when I saw so many positive, humble, vulnerable comments made in response to this long-overdue article on a topic very few would dare to approach with a 1,000-foot pole.

To those who view the article through the lenses that require us to constantly put our daily deficits and failings under the microscope of self-examination for our ever-present secret and “blindspot” sins, I encourage you to stay the course and work with the Holy Spirit to clear out the filth and corruption that is still to be found in our temples, until the day of our glorification. This particular subject is highly sensitive (as demonstrated in some of the terse responses), but has become a glaring epidemic, especially with the rise of 24/7 media access and entertainment. The temptations are greater now to burn the midnight oil on gluttenous pursuits than ever before. IF we are rightly pursuing the daily mortification of our sins, this subject couldn’t be more relevant to such pursuits.

To those who walked away offended and discouraged, while I empathize with your individual ordeals and conditions, I think a little more benefit of the doubt should be extended here. From what my wife tells me, this site/blog is not an ongoing barrage of sin-detection and guilt-invoking exercises (sorry, ladies, I’m not a frequent subscriber). Furthermore, the article aptly acknowledges the presence of sleep disorders/conditions, and is not making it out that every night owl is a special brand of cursed, vile sloth. However, to not address this very real, sinful problem with millions of women AND men, is not any form of encouragement or “grace;” to not correct sisters (and brothers) in Christ in areas of sin is no form of love found anywhere in Scripture.

This article simply, though informally, challenges each of us to do our daily duty of examining this, and any, area in our own lives that may be functioning “under the radar.” We should put all of our daily (and nightly) thoughts, words, and deeds on the Holy Spirit’s conveyor belt (like security checks at an airport), and let Him do His work of convicting in each & every area, as necessary to His work of sanctification in our hearts. He will often use articles like this to accomplish the task.

I hope those offended will reconsider this first impulse, and return to allow conviction to occur, if it’s necessary. If anyone has a condition that keeps them up at night or your night hours are spent serving the family further, there’s no reason for offense or conviction; but please do not hinder the convicting work in the hearts of other readers with misguided charges of self-righteousness, wrongful judging, and deficits in grace.

If it doesn’t apply to you, then it doesn’t apply. However, sin is a cancer in every human being. It never does any harm to overturn stones in our lives that may be covering up some hidden, insidious sin. If you don’t think you got ’em, you’ve got greater soul-searching to do than what’s being called upon here.

Sorry for the long post. I felt compelled to interject!

Annie March 29, 2011

I have to agree with the Husband and Father Tim. This post is not pointing fingers at anyone, it is addressing a real issue.

I am a single mother (widowed) and I have to work outside my home, my employer expects my best as does God. In any work that we do whether in or outside of the home we are called to do everything as to the Lord. People are watching us, they are reading what we write and those that did not agree or were offended by what was written how does your response glorify the Lord.

Things like this do divide us, we must be careful in our responses, bringing them before the Lord before we do confront people with our offense.

leah w March 30, 2011

If you’re interested in reading further, I’ve written a little blog post about this after reading this article & the comments.
http://wallsinaberdeen.shutterfly.com/258

Lindsay April 4, 2011

I really appreciated all of this. One line in particular stood out and is propelling me to do the right thing for the right reasons: “Our aim in taking care of our physical needs should be physical and mental preparation for service to God and others.” Thank you, Veronica!

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