It’s been years since I had anything that remotely resembles what’s called a “normal night’s sleep”, that being eight continuous hours. I spent many years in nursing working every conceivable type of shift, and my circadian rhythm is permanently broken. It was during one such episode last night that I came across the above image while perusing my Facebook newsfeed. It resonates with me for a number of reasons.
Aside from being locked into a “segmented sleep” pattern (you sleep a few hours, are wide awake for a few more, and maybe get back to sleep as the sun is coming up; if not, you nap), I also deal with cancer that I’m told is not curable (I’ve touched on that before) and the treatments to try to slow its growth. The combination of all these factors is a life that cannot operate on so-called conventional thinking or timetables. I am not alone in this, as I have friends and acquaintances who deal with this every day as well.
I am a rebel at heart; I never have marched to the world’s tune very well. And being retired allows me the luxury of being able to have control over my time and resources. In figuring out how to deal with the disease and still have a life, I came to a realization, and a decision. When I was awake and more energetic, I would do something productive, no matter the time of day or night. When I was tired, I would rest/sleep, no matter the time of day or night.
What I understand is my body rhythms don’t match anyone else’s, and they certainly don’t come anywhere close to the mold that the world demands we all fit to be considered “successful” (or even “normal”). I’m not normal and have no desire to be. I had to decide the cancer wouldn’t define my life, and then determine how I was going to make the ongoing treatment work within trying to live my life every day. I find things work much better when I pay attention to what my body is trying to say to me. I can be more productive and accomplish the things I want and need to do when I work within my own limitations.
The same principle works in the area of our spiritual life as well. If you’re trying to be a follower of Jesus Christ, you will constantly be bombarded with voices trying to tell you what you should do, both within the body of believers and the outside world. All are attempting to fit you into a mold of their own design. As important as it is to find the truth in what passes in the world’s view as “wisdom” (as opposed to propaganda or agenda-based opinion), it’s even more so when it comes to spiritual truths, which carry eternal consequences.
For the Christian, there can be only one standard against which all other spiritual doctrine must be compared, and that is the Bible. Your greatest defense against being overwhelmed by the din and noise of our current world is spending time frequently reading the Bible and in prayer and meditation. It is in the time of quietness that God speaks to us, if we are willing to listen for His voice. We can validate the message by comparing it to scripture; God will never tell us something that contradicts His word. The goal is to grow into a close relationship with God and to humbly surrender to His guidance. But it won’t happen if we’re listening to the wrong voices.
There doesn’t have to be a conflict between THE DISEASE and needing to rest. If you can learn to listen to your body and work with it, the disease doesn’t need to ruin your life; it simply becomes one more aspect you need to factor into the rest of your daily life. It helps tremendously to have your spiritual life in good order as well. If you will come to the One who says, “Follow Me”, He will carry the burden and give you the strength you need. With Jesus, your life becomes ‘abundant’ despite the world trying to tell you otherwise. Listen to the right voices.