Awake!

tired

I’ve been thinking lately about how many times I have prayed in my life for sleep. Ridiculous, I know! Many of those were pretty heartfelt though, especially as a new mom.

“Please, please, please, let this baby sleep for more than 37 minutes this time.”

“Wahhhhh!”

Oh, the broken-hearted tears in those moments. It’s a good thing they are so cute, isn’t it?
So, imagine my smiles, when I received this portion of my missionary son’s email this week:

By the end of the week, my tongue was too tired to testify, and my eyes were better glazed than any 6th grade pottery project. But to maybe the best way to describe how tired I was would be to describe the recovery. This morning, I told my companion in grunts that I was going to take a nap, and it would be for as long as I wanted, and if he woke me up, I would kill him on the spot and go back to sleep. Or something to that effect. I left my whimpering companion in the corner and belly-flopped onto the bed, already asleep midair. And I dreamed. All the normal dream stuff started happening, upside-down stairs, giving people Books of Mormon (gotta stay in practice), and watching a silverfish turn into a trashcan when I sprayed it with water. The yoosh. But then, only a few minutes into my dream, I started feeling sleepy. And I fell asleep. In my dream. So I experienced literal inception. Then in that dream, I felt sleepy, and went to bed. This continued, on and on, down the ever-spiraling dream well, until my companion WOKE ME UP. I’m not sure if I killed him, but I was so tired, when I tried to open my eyes, the inside of my eyelids stuck to my eyeballs and I was blind. After squirting them with contact solution, I realized the fact that I wasn’t really panicking about this meant it was a dream, and I woke up. I got up, walked around, and noticed the stairs were upside down, and woke up again. Eventually, I had to wake up FIVE TIMES before I triumphantly burst through all those dream layers. Who knows? Maybe I’m still dreaming. But I think it’s great that even in my dreams my brain was like, “Yeah, let’s use this time to sleep extra.” For all I know, if you add up all my sleep in that 2 hour nap, I maybe actually slept like 15 hours. Pretty nifty, brain.

Apparently, we are related.

Sleep is a wonderful thing. My husband and I are on different ends of the sleep spectrum. He’s a sprinter, and I’m more of a long-distance sleeper. That man can (and has!) fallen asleep in the middle of his own sentence, let alone my sentences, on multiple occasions. My skills on the other hand, are definitely not in the “quick-start” area. It usually takes me an hour or two really warm up to the idea. Once I’m committed though, my talents become apparent. I have never met a morning I wouldn’t rather sleep through.

Several years ago, my husband was serving in the Bishopric. My kids and I watched with delighted but embarrassed horror as he fell completely asleep on the stand. Even better, he kept sleepily looking at us smiling, seemingly pretty sure that no one could tell he was sleeping. He thought he was so sneaky. We started quietly chuckling to each other. Then the rest hymn was announced, a favorite, Hymn No. 223, “Have I Done Any Good.” Let’s just contemplate these words of the chorus for a minute, “Then wake up and do something more, than dream of your mansion above.” It probably started with me honestly, (because I’m just that person), but first it was little snickers, then full on giggles, and finally tears running down our faces as we tried to get it together before the song ended and we were supposed to sit down and be quiet. The Bishop got quite a kick out of us with his full view of our antics. Good thing we were more reverent than my sweet and tired husband since we weren’t the ones sleeping in church, right? HA!

Hold on, I’ve got a beam in my eye, it’s hard to type.

cat beam

Don’t get me wrong, sleep is a good thing. I love it. But I’ve been thinking lately that I’m sleeping through my life a little bit and I’m not sure that is a good idea. I’m in my early 40’s. How the heck did that happen? I never thought I would be this old honestly. I’m not sure that I am living my life as purposefully as I want to be. My days run together with just doing “stuff.” I’m not exactly sure sometimes of the value of “stuff” and if it’s getting me to where I want to go.

This reminded me of the apostles waiting for Christ while he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. The juxtaposition of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, happening right in that very moment, and the fact that his most beloved disciples did not or could not abide with his request to pray that they would not enter into temptation is incredibly poignant. Christ returned to them, and the scriptures tell us,

“And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith until Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? [. . .] The spirit truly is ready but the flesh is weak.” [1]

My flesh feels pretty weak sometimes. How does this apply in my life? What are the ways that I am sleeping rather than abiding with Christ?

President Uchtdorf addressed some of these concerns in his talk, “Are You Sleeping Through the Restoration?” [2] His remarks highlighted three areas: selfishness, addictions, and competing priorities. My thoughts have been centered on the last in the list, my choices of what kinds of things occupy my time.

Like all of us, I find myself pulled in every which direction, all at the same time. Is it any wonder that I’m probably not getting anywhere?

The Apostle Paul wrote,

“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”  [3]

And from Romans,

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

The night is far spent, the day is at hand, let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armour of light.” [4]

I think the anti-drowsy pill that allows us to strap on that armor of light is probably different for everyone. Importantly, adding something to the burden we carry isn’t always the best way to make progress either. Sometimes it might be removing something entirely. Only Heavenly Father can help each of us make that determination as we come to him in prayer, desiring to be more fully awake.

As I have thought about this for myself, the first wake up alarm for me has been pretty clear. I know that I need to make more time, even giving up sleep if necessary, to engage in personal scripture study more consistently. We are very committed to studying as a family, but my own personal time has slipped, and that disappoints me. I know that when I fill my own spiritual reserves, it increases my capacity in everything else that is asked of me.

We are promised over and over again, that if we will just put forth enough effort to awake from our slumber, we will be blessed in our efforts. In Alma 32, a favorite missionary chapter, we read,

“But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.” [5]

We often think of this promise as applying to those investigating the church, but it is not nearly so limited. “Awaking” and “arousing” our faculties is something that we must do again and again. In fact, it may be exactly those that have been laboring in the vineyard that are more likely to be asleep.

*yawn*

Is it bedtime yet?

 

 

baby-19295_1280

[1] Mark 14:37-38.
[2] Ensign, May 2014, found at: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2014/05/priesthood-session/are-you-sleeping-through-the-restoration.p1?lang=eng
[3] Ephesians 5:14.
[4] Romans 13:11-12.
[5] Alma 32:27.

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One thought on “Awake!

  1. Great post, Natalie. I was just reading Lehi’s sermon to his sons, and he kept saying “Awake and arise from the dust” over and over again (I think I counted 4 times). It made me think and contemplate the same thing you just wrote about. How am I sleeping spiritually? What can I do so I’m not yawning through life and sluggishly giving a lukewarm effort to God’s cause? (BTW, I thought your son’s letter this week was hilarious. I died laughing…and I would have been snickering with you at your husband on the stand. I can so picture that)

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