It is true, that more often than not, I oversleep.
I wake up to my alarm, perfectly and painfully aware of what time it is and I sometimes simply refuse to get out of bed. I clumsily withdraw my arm from its cocoon of warm covers and smack my alarm clock. Then my cold arm slithers back into its cave and I roll over and go back to sleep.
I wake up eventually, arriving at work sporting an up-do because I only have time for one form of brushing, and dental hygiene is more important to me than styled hair.
I have vague memories of college roommates lecturing me on the values of starting your day early, and with a pleasant attitude. (But like I said, the memories are vague, because I was in a hazy cloud of disbelief at being awake before noon.)
Long before my college roommates tried to impart their skippy, early-morning attitudes on me, my father tried to do the same. The man, God bless him, wakes up with sunshine oozing from his pores and the voice of a song bird. He would cheerfully and smugly waltz into my room while singing,
Rise and shine,
You've had your sleep
I've had mine!!
He would try to use feeble reasons to get me out of bed, including one troubling concept that I have heard on multiple occasions. This idea seems to plague the go-getters and chipper people of today. I've heard it from my father, roommates, friends, and seen it in stylized quotes on the internet. This troubling phrase is one that the go-getters use to romanticize their world view.
I'll sleep when I'm dead.
Upon first glance it might seem daring and sexy. Just think, if i didn't have to waste all this time sleeping, I could do so much more, learn so much more, take more adventures, live more life! What a lovely idea.
But no, my dear go-getter friend so full of naive ambition. This is a terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad idea. The danger lies in thinking that life is only lived while awake. I don't want to get all biblical on you (wait, yes I do), but God is a big fan of dreams. He's made some of his grandest entrances there. Joseph decided to get some shuteye after hearing his darling betrothed was pregnant, and God used that quiet and peaceful state to deliver His powerful message (Matthew 1:18-25.)
If my abbreviated version of Matthew's gospel doesn't convince you that sleep is a glorious thing, then ponder this:
Without sleep, you will never experience dreams. Without sleep, you will never know the joy of waking up on Christmas morning, or your birthday. Without sleep, you will never be woken up by your children slipping into your bed and pressing their icy cold toes next to your warm legs. Without sleep there are no dreams. There is no snoring followed by a whistle that makes you sound like you are from an old cartoon. No need for nighties or nightcaps. Without sleep you can't nurse that hangover from all that awake-living you did last night. (Whatever works to make you understand that sleep is good.)
I've never had God or his angels visit me in dreams, but I have fallen asleep in prayer. (Sometimes you take the 3:00am holy hour shift because you have really phenomenal intentions.) Perhaps I am too casual in my prayer life, but I find it very difficult to feel guilty falling asleep in prayer, because all I can think about is God the Father, the parent, watching me and smiling. I have never been a parent, but I know the joys of a happy childhood and I have experienced parental love without condition. We are God's children. We are his little darlings. What parent does not feel their heart swell with joy when they see their baby sleeping?
It is vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep
Psalm 127: 2
So parents, think about that next time you think it would be best for your children to do yard work at eight o'clock in the morning. Let them get their sleep in now, because I sincerely hope that they won't sleep when they're dead. I've heard heaven is quite the party, and I hope they are awake for every minute of it.