Tuesday, February 28, 2012

5 More Minutes With Jesus

I have never been a morning person. At least up through college, life let me (mostly) get away with that, though sleeping through (while simultaneously attending) some of my early morning classes was probably not the wisest investment of learning energy!

Once I began working full-time, and then later as a graduate student, and finally as a mother, I made compromises with my natural rhythms in order to do what I needed to do and serve whom I needed to serve. In other words, I became more physically, mentally, and emotionally capable of handling mornings and even learned to enjoy some early morning stillness.

But mornings have never been a natural fit, and I still often battle my alarm clock.

It's quite silly how I battle that alarm. It doesn't seem to matter when I set it for or what the "snooze" setting is, I just really struggle to get up the first time the alarm rings (and sometimes, especially lately, the fourth or fifth time). I seriously feel as though I'm pushing through an element like water, trying to swim to consciousness. I am often vaguely aware that I am half-way between sleeping and waking, but the sleeping part pulls me down like a mischievous elf trying to keep me from starting the day.

With the light suddenly changing as we make the turn from winter towards spring (oh yes!) mornings are getting a bit easier. Because I'm working a lot of late nights, I'm still struggling to get up the first time the alarm rings, but I'm managing to push through to at least a state of semi-wakefulness a little earlier, mostly because the light beckons.

But I still don't always want to get up right away. And lately, I'm letting that be okay. Instead of dragging myself up out of bed with a heavy sigh and a little groan (I've done that many mornings, believe me) I am letting myself settle back under the covers for a few minutes. Even when I know it's time to get up. Even if I still haven't turned the alarm off.

I used to think the words "5 more minutes" when I did this. (I used to say those words to my mother a lot when she tried to get me up when I was younger too.) These days I find myself adding two little words to that, and it's changing the way I'm thinking of those final precious minutes of rest. The words that play through my head on the mornings I allow myself to say put a little longer have become "5 More Minutes With Jesus."

I've often found that my prayers somehow feel deeper when my mind is still in that fuzzy, liminal place between total sleep and total wakefulness. That may seem strange, but it's just the way I seem to be wired. Maybe my rational mind hasn't had a chance to take hold quite yet. Maybe my heart is somehow closer to the surface. I know I often have people come to mind in the early morning, people I'm called to pray for. And I often have a deeper sense of nearness to God and his heart in those moments too, an awareness of his presence that has sustained me and upheld me during the night.

So these days I am spending five more minutes with Jesus. I am partly conscious of asking him, somewhere down deep, if I can come extra close to him and let him hold me for those few moments. He always says yes. Some days I spend that time moving into more wakeful prayers. Some days I fall back asleep until the alarm goes off, but it's a precious last few minutes of sleep, a kind of basking in his presence. And I always feel more ready to finally turn that alarm off, not in heavy-handed or startled way, but in a deliberate okay-I-think-I-am-finally-ready-to-face-this-brand-new-day-as-gift way.

Maybe he is making me into a morning person at last.


Louise Bates said...

What a good idea! I've been deliberately setting my alarm for half an hour earlier than I truly need to get up, just because it takes me that long to get myself from "first awake" to "ready to face the day." I'll have to try using that time for prayer, now, instead of battling the desire to sleep and need to get up.

Beth said...

Well, sometimes I still battle. Like this morning, when the alarm somehow failed to go off...and then when I woke up on my own steam, I got mixed up about what day it was, then panicked when I figured out what day it *really* was! Ah well...still living and learning and loving!