By Katie Fruge
It is 3:30a.m. My daughter, through no fault of her own, is suffering from another bout with insomnia. She’s been awake since a little after 1:00a.m. and despite our best efforts at supporting healthy sleep, she is awake. I am tired.
My daughter has a neurological condition that predisposes her to develop sleep disorders. She suffers from frequent bouts of insomnia which can keep her (and myself and my husband) up for most of the night. Earlier this year she was going through a particularly rough patch of insomnia. Compacting the issue, I was facing an enormous deadline which could not be missed and consumed the waking hours of my day. I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. Totally and utterly depleted.
It was during this season of sleeplessness that God began showing me the significance and holy work of rest which is separate (albeit connected) to sleep. God used my season of sleeplessness to remind me that while sleep and rest are complementary, I had conflated the two concepts. My lack of sleep, combined with my lack of rest, had me on a one-way track barreling toward burnout. Although I had very little control over the sleep issues our family was facing, I realized I still had the responsibility to observe and honor the holy work of rest. I began to recognize that being physically awake did not have to equal being available with my time and energy. I still need to rest.
When God spoke the Ten Commandments to Moses, He said to observe the Sabbath day and by so doing, we make it holy. A day set apart and unique from the work which God also calls us to accomplish. A holy rest that worships and honors God through intentionally quieting life.
The Bible does not command our sleep. That’s because we don’t need to be told to sleep. We may need more sleep than we typically get, but sleep is a biological necessity required for survival. Study after study reminds us of the serious health consequences we face due to chronic sleep deprivation. Sometimes the holiest thing we can do is lay down and take a nap as we care for our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. Sleep helps us survive. Still, sleep is a component of rest, it is not the content.
Sleep compliments rest as it renews and restores the physical body. Rest compliments sleep as it restores the spirit. Rest allows me to be renewed and take pleasure in the good work God has done.
God is not glorified in my burnout.
I need rest. Rest is God’s provision over me and for me.
Rest is restorative. When I intentionally engage is the holy work of rest, I am renewed and energized for the work to which God has called me. If Sunday leaves me drained and empty, I may have done many good and God-honoring things, but I certainly did not rest. Resting may have thousands of beautiful manifestations, but the end result should leave me mentally and spiritually restored and ready for the work I have been called to complete. Rest prevents burnout.
Rest is redeeming. Make no mistake, when you intentionally set time aside to honor and obey God by resting, your time is not squandered. Refuse the lie that may creep into your mind suggesting that time resting is time wasted. God rested, and it was good. Jesus rested. Rest was made for us. In a day and age that views time as a commodity and proclaims, “time is money,” we need to lean in to the beautiful truth that we are creatures made to observe and enjoy rest and that is time well spent.
Rest is required. Rest is not a privilege reserved for women lounging in luxury. God, in His loving provision, requires our rest. When God gave the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 it is noteworthy that some of the more “significant” commandments are given with little to no explanation (I.e., “do not murder”), more explanation and attention is given to the commandment to honor the Sabbath than any other commandment. Resting is not a luxury, it is a commandment we are called to honor and obey as people of God.
With the help of medical professionals, eventually we were able to help my daughter’s insomnia calm down. She still experiences wakefulness, but not to the extent we were facing in January. One thing I’ve learned from the years of living with a child with insomnia is that when she is facing depletion, the best gift I can give her is rest. We quiet our schedule, we have slow and restful mornings. She may not be physically rested, but I can help her spirit and mind be at peace until her body is able to be renewed.
Some benefit more from a “traditional day of rest,” and some prefer having a little time of restfulness every day. Perhaps it is best to oscillate between the two while still having a preference for what you and your family have experienced to be best in your situation. The importance is in the result. Are you resting? Are you allowing your family to rest? Rest is not the absence of work. Rest is done in the midst of work. It is intentionally quieting, worshiping, and honoring God for what He has done and will do in our lives. He is the One who gives us the strength to work and the One who lays us down by green pastures to rest and restore us from that work.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28
Katie Frugé lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband and their two small daughters. As a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, she loves connecting the truth she's learning in the classroom with the realities of being a wife and mom. Katie spends her time nurturing her daughters by day and discussing (or maybe debating!) theology with her husband by night. She loves a good cup of coffee, a good run, and a good musical. Feel free to connect with Katie via twitter (@KFruge) or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.