When Half A Night’s Sleep Is Still Enough

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“I looked to physical rest to give me strength when God wanted me to put my hope in Him instead.

“Why do you keep thinking you don’t have enough energy?” my husband asked me one night. “You made it through today. You made it through this year of being a new mom. Why do you insist that you’re in deficit?”

He had me pegged. Why, indeed.

I really didn’t think I could cope with the demands of being a mom. And yet, somehow I had made it through one whole year. Interestingly, when it came to our finances, I never worried about not having enough. I trusted God would provide all that we needed. But somehow, when it came to having enough energy to face my daily tasks, I doubted God’s provision.

My husband’s question reminded me of an experience I’d had a few years back, when I was recovering from burnout. I’d been wrestling with insomnia. It felt too cruel. I was perpetually exhausted but I would just lie awake in bed. How was I supposed to get better if I couldn’t sleep?! I pointed my finger at God. I felt like my pleas for a good night’s rest fell on deaf ears.

“Trust me,” God seemed to say. “Trust ME for the energy you need.”

It suddenly made sense. I’d made sleep my idol. I looked to physical rest to give me strength when God wanted me to put my hope in Him instead.

I’d been operating out of a poverty mentality. Afraid that I would run dry, I became a miser, hoarding my energy and limiting my commitments like a cheapskate. My Creator was inviting me to see things differently. God was asking me to adopt a mentality of abundance. To believe God is more than enough. To dare to give generously and lavishly because God’s resources are never ending.

After that conversation with my husband, my heart cried out, “Lord, I want to believe. Help my unbelief!”

I decided to practice gratitude first thing every morning. Being grateful was one way I could declare that what God had given me, was enough–to live by faith rather than fear.

When my eyes first open these mornings, even if I have been up several times caring for our child in the middle of the night, I silently whisper, “God, thank you for the rest I was able to get last night. I believe it’s enough and that you will sustain me through today.” And when my head hits the pillow at the end of the day, I am grateful again. For as I review how the day unfolded, each moment becomes a testament to how God truly was, is and will be enough.

Photo credit:  Nathan O’Nions

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Olive Chan
Olive is a friendly introvert and recovering perfectionist. In an ideal day, she would paint, eat chocolate croissants and take lots of naps. But she’s primarily occupied these days with her two lovely little ladies, Alena and Kayla and making sure her husband, Tim, does not have to eat McDonald’s too often. She has co-written two books with Tim and takes breaks from the little people by building websites with their small company, Coracle Marketing. She aspires to be a conduit of grace, rest and beauty in this hurried and chaotic world.
Olive Chan
  • As someone who struggles to sleep, this totally spoke to me. Thank you Olive!

    • olivechan

      You’re welcome, Saskia. It’s still an ongoing invitation to trust for me. Glad you were blessed!

  • Rebecca

    Thank you so much for writing this. You have pegged a struggle that I often forget I am in, and you wrote about it with grace and eloquence. I find that I constantly look to my own (measly) strength instead of resting in Christ’s ‘enough.’ His grace really *is* sufficient, and I actually *can* rest in Him despite my fatigue and short-sightedness. I needed this today. Thanks!

    • olivechan

      I love what you said, Rebecca, that we actually *can* rest in Him! It’s so true and yet it’s so easy to doubt it when it comes to putting it into practice.

  • Olive, as someone who idolizes sleep in a different way (I rarely struggle with insomnia but can use sleep as a way to procrastinate or avoid stress), I especially appreciated when you wrote about having a poverty mentality, living in faith, not fear, with energy hoarding and limiting commitments. Still learning after burnout not to be afraid of pouring myself out unto others. The difference is if I’m loving others out of my own strength or God’s abundance which is more than enough.

    • olivechan

      Oh Justine, I also can use sleep as an escape! I echo your sentiment that after burnout, the struggle is not to be afraid of pouring myself into others. May God give us wisdom to identify when we’re loving out of our own strength and not His.

  • Ruth Abel

    I can not tell you how relevant this is to me right now. I struggled enormously with my daughter when she was born, almost three years ago. She was up 4-6 times a night till 13 months, then it got a little better. It has only been well into her second year that she has taken solid naps, slept through the night and generally gotten a hold of the sleep thing… and in just days I am going to start all over with my son! Sleep was my idol, extreme fatigue was my excuse. I recognized my need for greater reliance on the Lord in this area, but not to the extent that you have articulated here.

    “God was asking me to adopt a mentality of abundance.” Thank you for the timeliness of this article. The Lord sure has spoken to me through you today!

    • olivechan

      Grace and strength to you, Ruth, especially for these days ahead. God is gracious and He *will* carry you through each day as it comes.

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  • Love this word. I recently had a realization like this about my tiredness and I’m not even a mom yet. This (and your upcoming book!) have reassured me about my fears of lacking energy for when I have kids.

  • phew! this is such an incredible word. i actually would like you to record it so it can be my alarm in the morning! i make sleep an idol often-it seems to be a slippery slope once that first babe comes along. thank you for writing such power & truth. i needed this today

  • anne-marie

    I’ve been thinking about this post for days! Our sleep has been interrupted in stressful ways for so many years. This was very very helpful for me. Thank you!