Wednesday, April 9, 2008

a new discipline

I've started getting up at 6.00 in the morning.

It's not that hard, since I'm usually lying in bed half awake by this time, stretching out every last moment of rest. And I get to bed around 10.00 most nights, and have a nap every day after lunch (which helps me cheerfully serve my family during the afternoon), so I'm getting plenty of sleep.

But it's been lovely to sit in the quiet (until a child wakes, which they do pretty soon!), read the Bible, and pray. And then I've still got half an hour to read some of those great Christian books on my reading plan (see list to the right) before I get everything started for the family at 7.00. It's also good for my kids to see me reading the Bible and praying.

We actually made it on time to kinder this morning!!! We've been starting off the day much more calmly - no shouting at the kids to get ready, no hurrying people out the door. This morning, Lizzy, who's getting very observant at 9 years old, said "I like it when you get up earlier, Mummy." And I have time to look at the calendar and think about the day, so that's less things forgotten.

My earlier rising has been inspired by two things I've read recently:

- this post on GirlTalk (well, they aimed for 5.00, which is very noble of them, but that's a bit beyond me if I want to spend time with that night-owl, my husband, and still get enough sleep to be cheerful with my family during the day).

- this quote from Martha Peace (an author I've discovered recently who writes wonderful books for Christian women). I've never seen a quote I simultaneously agree and disagree with more. Read it and see what you think:
I have heard of women who pride themselves on being "night people." That means they have trouble getting up in the mornings because they come alive at night. They may stay up to 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 pleased and sleep late the next day?

Once a young wife begins getting up earlier than her children and her husband, she will cease to be a "night person." She will be tired at night and go to bed at a reasonable hour so she will be there to serve her family the next morning.
I wonder if she knows anyone who really is a "night person". My husband and one of my close friend are night people, and I know how intractable body clocks can be. My friend, after trying and failing to get to sleep early for years, has recently discovered what a precious time the late evening hours are to read Christian books, reflect and pray (although she's still careful to get to bed at a reasonable hour so she can get up to care for her family). I'm under no illusion that the godly Christian life will look the same for everyone.

On the other hand, I'm sure these words are appropriate for some women (and men) who stay up late to enjoy themselves, then rise late at the expense of their families. Let these words inspire you to be disciplined in your use of time and sleep, just don't take them as Scripture!! If the Bible doesn't make it a rule, neither should you. Do what suits you and serves God and your family best: but be careful not to be self-indulgent and unwise in your sleeping habits.

Can I assure you that this post should be completely irrelevant to some of you? During seasons of illness or grief, and times with a baby or young child who wakes during the night, your life will look nothing like this, and that's absolutely fine: you have other responsibilities at the moment.

But as for me, now my children are past babyhood, I'm going to try getting up earlier. I'll see how it goes. But that's what I'm doing for now.

Expect a follow-up post soon on perfectionism and discipline: when discipline can be dangerous.

The quote is from Martha Peace's Becoming a Titus 2 Woman, cited in Carolyn Mahaney's Feminine Appeal p.72.


Rachach said...

Good on you Jean?!
It is very encouraging to hear of the benefits of rising early to pray and serve.
Thanks for being realsitic by saying that giving up sleep is not for every stage of life.
Giving up sleep is not an option for me at the moment as I am pregnant with 2 children under 4.
So my solution is to have my 'quiet time' at 9:30am when my children are watching play school. I used to do the dishes then, but I have asked my husbnad to do the dishes instead, so that I can have that time with God. I am seeing the benefits too!
Love Rachel

Cathy McK said...

Thanks for your post Jean. I am glad you mentioned the tension between rising early and spending time with husbands who don't keep the same hours.

Last night I read a great report from missionaries we know and love in Namibia.

On a recent trip to a prison, Simon met a man who solves the problem of sharing a cell with 14 other men by going to bed at 7pm before all of them. He then wakes up at 10 or 11 pm to read his Bible, pray and do correspondence theological study while everyone else is sleeping. He does this laying on the floor near the toilet door where there is enough light to read by! May God give us steady zeal like that.

Jean said...

That's amazing! And inspiring too. Thankyou for sharing that with us!

Rachael said...

I also have found that I need an afternoon nap every day for the same reasons. Ever since I was pregnant with our first child I have slept after lunch. I constantly am tempted to skip it in order to do something 'more useful' and at times am profoundly jealous of those that seem to be able to manage without a sleep and can do all sorts of things when their children have sleep/rest time. It is encouraging even just to know there is someone else who needs a nap to help with godliness and cheerful service.