Sleep like Your Life Depends on It
I have been working since I was 14 years old. My first job was babysitting three children that my family knew from church. Everyday after school I would take the school bus to their house and babysit them until about 6:30pm when their parents arrived home from work. I had the idea, like most teenagers, that as soon as I was able to work and make my own money, I could buy whatever I wanted in the world. You couldn’t tell me that my little $100 per week wasn’t a million dollars per week. Such childlike vision of the world. What I didn’t realize; is that my first job was actually the beginning of a journey of working for the rest of my life.
After that first job, I have never stopped working. I have worked at restaurants, retail stores, photography studios, insurance companies, property management, daycares, everything you can possibly imagine. I even tried my hand at the strip club, but I quickly realized, thanks to my past sexual abuse trauma, I wasn’t built for that life.
Since I was 14 years old, there has never NOT been a time when I didn’t have a job. Since I dropped out of school at 16 and obtained my GED, I had even more time to work and more options of places to work. I showed up at every job with the thought that I was the answer to whatever problems their organization faced. I wasn’t cocky, I just knew my value as an employe. I have always had a ridiculous work ethic, and, for the most part, it has been a blessing for me, because I excelled quickly and soaked up a ton of knowledge in various areas.
My work ethic allowed me to always keep a job, and when my son was born at 18 years old, it became even more vital that I worked to make sure that my son and I felt as secure as possible. I may not have made a whole lot of money, but I made enough for us to survive by the skin of our teeth.
When my husband and I married, I realized that he was almost the exact opposite of me. He never really had a real job, infact if you ask him about his past jobs before we met, the only one he remembers is working at Crackle Barrel restaurant. My husband chose the streets early and so that is where he made his money. I helped him to get a real job because I was no longer interested in being in a relationship with a drug dealer, been there, done that. He was able to get a job and also keep the job, but he switched jobs quite a few times, and that inconsistency didn't allow me to feel safe, so I continued to work and climb the corporate ladder. At one point I was earning close to a six figure salary, but I had no time to spend with my family. I worked at work and then I went home and worked more. Ask me what I have to show for that almost six figure salary? NOTHING. Not a thing, because just as quick as it came in, it went out. I don't even have pictures from family vacations because there was no time for vacations. I was on call at all times.
At the end of 2019 heading in to 2020 I felt like the Lord was beginning a shift in my life. On top of working a full time position, for the last 10 years I had also been helping my husband run a State licensed summer camp. I was mentally drained and beginning to resent where I was in my life. When you are not fulfilling your purpose, it becomes harder and harder to wake up and give all of your energy and gifts to fulfill the purpose of others. Yet, I ignored what I knew God was saying, which was to be still and rest, and instead, I accepted a part time position as a school secretary. The way I figured it was since it was only part time, I wasn't being disobedient, but the truth is, partial obedience is still complete disobedience. For the next year and a half, I went to work everyday, I worked hard everyday, and gave the most of myself, or at least what was left. By the time Spring of 2021 rolled around, I heard the Lord screaming loudly in my ear, GO. My response was bold, "If you want me to leave, you are going to have to make it real clear God." Boyyyyy, I was not ready!!
On June 22, 2021 I left work and called out, "See you tomorrow" to my fellow coworkers. I had no clue that it would be my last day at work. My son's accident occurred just a few short hours later and I would spend my entire summer by his hospital bedside. When my son came home from the hospital, the lord asked me a simple question, "Are you listening now?". It was time for me to not just be still, but rest. I was confused ya'll. I didn't know how to rest. I don't think I had rested ever in my life. So for the last 6 months, I have been on an emotional rollercoaster. Struggling to rest, I mean who struggles to rest? For some reason, I just can't seem to sit still. Infact, the idea of doing nothing makes me sick. I makes me feel useless. Yet as much as I try to do, the Lord stops me from doing. A few weeks ago, one of my favorite podcasters, Dr. Anita Phillips, released an episode with a simple title, but God used it to speak to me in a mighty way. The title of the episode was "Go to Sleep". Yup, that was it. I received the notification when it came across my phone, but I quickly cleared it and scrolled on. The title alone felt like a dagger in my side and I wanted no parts of it. Then a few days ago, the Lord led me back to the episode. So I laid in my bed and I listened, and then I cried. The message was just as simple as the title, Go to Sleep. It hit me hard because I was struggling to do just that, going to sleep. I couldn't remember the last time i had gotten a good nights sleep, or even a straight five hours of sleep for that matter. Sleep felt like a chore, an item on my to do list, a burden on my shoulders, and I just didn't want to deal with it. So I didn't, but it didn't take long for my body and my mind to feel the repercussions of not sleeping.
In the episode, Dr. Anita gave some pretty convicting view points on the importance of sleep. She provided practical and biblical facts that supported her view points and it left me at a cross road with a decision I had to make. Will I be obedient to God or keep trying to live my life on my own terms? All he wanted me to do was go to sleep!
Friends, I am choosing obedience. I have no other choice. I am choosing to free myself from believing the lie's and cliches that society tells us:
Sleep when You Die...
Don't Stop when You're tired, Stop when you're Done...
Let them Sleep while you Grind...
I'm sick of it. I'm tired of it. I am going to sleep.
I started a sleep challenge on Monday. My goal is to get a full, seven hours of sleep each night. It has been a struggle because it requires me to shut down my laptop, silence my phone, get off of social media, and shut my mind down. It sounds easier than it really is, especially when you're a worry whart like me. I have to be intentional about going to sleep and I have even had to get my family on board to keep me accountable. Who knew it would be this hard to go to sleep!
So I am challenging you! How many hours of sleep do you get at night? What are some tips you can offer on how to get the best sleep? Have you been obedient to what God is urging you to do?