Devotional 4/30/2020

I used to say that I could never function on less than 8-9 hours of sleep.  I have always been a highly routine sleeper.  In fact, my parents never bothered to give me a curfew because they knew it was a rare time I wanted to be out passed 9PM and I thought nothing worth while ever could possibly happen after 11PM.  New Year's Eve is obviously not my favorite holiday.  I have always preferred to sleep 9PM-6AM.  Now adjustment could be made, especially for work or an occasional party, but by in large that was what I wanted.  And if I did not get it, I was a beast.  I was the youngest granddaughter on my father's side and my grandfather adored me.  But come 8:30PM, he and my grandmother would say to my parents 'you better head home now' because even they did not like me tired.  

And I did not understand how parents could be up with their infants and children in the night and still work. So when I was pregnant with Belle, I was greatly consider that I just could not possibly care for her, work and be a normal person.  And the lack of sleep started early.  I had nerve pain from the fourth month of pregnancy on and I often spent large parts of the night watching Netflix on my phone watching Frasier.  So much so that we often joked that Belle would think Kelsey Grammar was her father since she probably heard his voice alot.  

So we went into the hospital with me already sleep deprived and I knew it was only going to get worse. We had decided to breastfeed which meant that most of the feedings would be my job and that it was likely the baby would need fed more often.  And I really did have great concerns about this.  I knew myself and I knew I needed sleep.  I knew that I could not operate on less than 8 straight hours and that I was a beast without it.  I thought there is no way this is going to work. 

But it did!  I am proud (?) to say I have been sleep deprived now for almost four years and I am making it.  Belle was not a good sleeper and I have spent countless hours nursing her and holding her.  By the time she stopped night feedings, we were already pregnant with Amanda and started the cycle all over again.  Amanda, though, did prove to be a better sleeping baby once that acid reflux was under control.  Even now, we never sleep through a whole night.  Belle needs bathroom breaks and Amanda needs diaper changes but often now husband is left to those tasks. 

And it was not easy.  I often say I miss how smart I was before I was pregnant.  While that is mostly a joke, the truth is I am a little slower mentally and tire more than I would like.  I find my creativity dries up a little quicker and I have developed a passionate hate for evening meetings and activities because it takes away from time that I just stare at the walls.  There have been, in short, some costs.  But I have done it.  I thought I could not.  I thought that I knew myself so well, that I knew I could not do this.  But I was wrong. 

I find that too often we put limits on ourselves based on the idea of great self knowledge.  I can't do this or that because of this part of who I am.  And we think that this is a positive because we think we know ourselves so well.  And we do this as church communities too.  We can't do this or that because we know ourselves and we just can't.  And I have to wonder if we are missing out on some amazing things personally and collectively when we do that.  When we believe that we know ourselves so well that we cannot possible do something, what marvelous things might we be missing?  

There is a cost to my ability to function on less sleep and I look forward to more sleep in the future but staying up was a great blessing in my life.  Those endless hours of holding my daughters are some of the best in my life.  The hours when our worlds shrank to just us.  The hours that taught them that they were safe and adults could be trusted.  The hours where love won out over self knowledge.  

And the facts are COVID has already proved some of our self knowledge wrong.  In January, I do not think any of us would have said that Kilbourne or Ashley could become a internet based community.  But our hand was forced.  While we miss our 'normal' ways and I cannot wait to return to worshiping with you in person, it proves that we can do it.  While there is cost and downsides, we have shown that we can find ways to stay connected without being in person.  Our self knowledge was proved wrong by necessity and by our love for God and each other that would not let us be content to just not do anything until we could meet in person.  

So first of all: great job!  We are doing things as a community we never thought we could and there is benefit to that.  You are probably doing other things that you thought you never would a few months ago in your personal lives.  I remember thinking masks were silly and I wouldn't want to wear one but now I wear mine when shopping not for my own sake but because I want to protect others from anything I potentially have.  And even if you are not wearing a mask, you have found that you can do things differently and have adapted and done well 

But the second thing is that I hope that this is a lesson to us all not to allow our self knowledge to stand in the way of doing something worth while.  My mind always goes to Moses and how he knew he could not do what God asked but then he did it!  His self knowledge was wrong and instead his love and faith in God and care for others won out. But there are many examples from the Bible and history of amazing people who thought they knew themselves well enough that they knew they could not do something only to be proven wrong and to have done amazing things.  I would like us all to read today Matthew 17:14-21.  This is the account of when the disciples fail to dispel a demon and Jesus says it is their lack of faith.  I believe that deep down these men were still learning that their self knowledge was wrong.  They had known all of their lives that they were low on the social hierarchy, that their lives would be just like their fathers, and that there was nothing special about them. But Jesus has proven all of that wrong. All of their self knowledge is incorrect and if they only have faith then they scripture says nothing will be impossible for you.  

It is time we 'know' a little less about ourselves and have alot more faith.  God is calling each of us and us collectively to do God's work.  Let us not list the reasons why not.  Let us not name all the cost.  Let us not think that we cannot.  Instead may we embrace that we can do things that we cannot even imagine if it is God's will.  Not that we can just will ourselves to be millionaires or defeat all of our enemies.  But as God is calling us, let's set aside self-knowledge, often better called self-doubt, and instead pick up love and faith.  With God, with love and with faith, nothing will be impossible for us. 

Love, 

Beth