Sleep Deprivation is My Superpower

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Confession time: my reading habits tend towards the schizophrenic.

On any given day, you might find me reading G.K. Chesterton, Francis Schaeffer, Martin Luther, Fredrik Backman or John Greene and absolutely everything in between. Yes, prying Reader, I have even read the Twilight series. It was in a particularly dark and sleep deprived season in my life and while I would love to pretend that it wasn’t exactly my mental speed, that it is Proust or nothing for me (I liked Proust fine, but his obsession with madelines seemed a bit over the top. Sounds like a man who has yet to discover pecan sticky buns), that would be lying. And as we have established, I never lie to y’all… even when you wish I would.

A common theme in young adult fiction (which –so sue me– happens to be my favorite genre to read during December, as there are nice light Christmas stories aimed at young adults whereas the real adult Christmas stories are lame. “Christmas in Paris”? Please. Any woman who spends 300 pages name dropping luxury brands and pretending that any honest to goodness French aristocrat children’s book illustrator wouldn’t have chucked the blonde American bimbo off her 3rd story honeymoon suite balcony the first time she tapped at his window with $3000 Ferriagamo pumps should stop writing. Maybe take up reading young adult fiction instead, learn a thing or two) is the notion that everyone has a superpower. It doesn’t matter if you can fly or count matches on the floor, or if you are just inordinately nice to talking animals — apparently, the young adult demographic craves the unique, longs for something to set them apart from all the other lemming peers who also are looking for their superpower.

There is definitely an underlying philosophy and worldview here. See above, go read Schaeffer, and then…. well, heck. If you do that, you’ll realize UnPublish(Able) is the drivel of a hack who can’t actually write and you probably won’t come back here afterwards. Wow, I am conflicted… eh, go read Schaeffer. Nice knowing you.

The point is that I figured out my own personal superpower during that season, which lasted about 10 years, where I rarely slept more than an hour together. Actually, I have several superpowers.

  1. I can make any food less healthy than it started out. Bring me your quinoa, I will drizzle copious amounts of French salted butter on top (I might even brown it first). Kale? With enough sausage, butter and cream, we can make a soup worth eating. Fresh pile of turnips? Fresh pile of hot salty fries, you mean!
  2. I can take a group chat of 30 God-fearing women who send praying hand emojis to absolutely everything and cause them to go completely silent with one text message. Writing is the easiest way to accomplish this, but I have been known to pull it off at dinner parties, coffee hour after church, and bridal showers. If I ever find a way to market this skill, Bill Gates will come to me for loans.
  3. I thrive on sleep deprivation.

It is the last one we are focusing on today, and the reason is that I slept really well last night and as a result, I am DRAGGING. It turns out that I have been hard-wired by experience to work the hardest and smartest, to be the most alert and winsome, when I am about 3 fries short of a REM cycle happy meal. When I actually get some sleep, I feel like an absolute zombie. I grant you, this principle, if pushed to extremes, can go too far… too much sleep deprivation and you start having chest pains and visions of Johnny Depp on your kitchen cabinets (the second one I didn’t mind so much, but those heart attack scares get a little annoying).

The reality is, I think sleep is like emotions: there is no catching up. I mention this seemingly obscure but (trust me) deeply salient connection because people keep telling me that I have years of crying to catch up on (see the archives if you want more details on my recent weepy self, and if you do, seriously, have you not yet discovered cat videos on YouTube or the above mentioned Schaeffer?) and I am skeptical. If you haven’t been dealing with your emotions for 5 years (which, in my defense, I have: meet UnPublish(Able) ), then it doesn’t matter how many puddles of saline you leave on your pastor’s office floor (you know, hypothetically…) — the emotions will probably still sneak up and clobber you from time to time. Similarly, if you lose a solid decade of sleep, you will become well-trained in the ways of sleeplessness and no amount of “sleep in Saturdays” can catch you up.

On that cheerful note…

It’s funny though that while I may be unique in my tendency to thrive on fewer hours of sleep, I think I am not unique in the problem of not resting well. I am regularly startled by how many people I meet fit a week’s worth of laundry/dishes/schoolwork/housework/yard work into their Sunday — as if in giving us a day of rest, God was actually being a buzzkill and laying a wearisome burden across our already tired shoulders. Kill the Ammorites, and Abraham, don’t forget to sacrifice Isaac, and you, housewife, put down your scrub brush and put your feet up.

No, no, protests the weekend warrior, it’s not that I don’t want to take a rest, it’s just that there are not enough hours in the day! If I stop moving, I will never catch up!

Incidentally, that is precisely the logic of the sleep deprived. If you slow down, you die! So why, then, would we adopt the attitude of the spiritually sleep deprived when there is absolutely no good reason for not being rested? Well… no good reason except disobedience…

In the words of one of my favorite podcasts, God is not the great nip-cheese of the universe! He is not more pleased when you are more ridiculous, more self-important about your time, more doubtful about His provision. Because isn’t that exactly what we are saying? The time You gave me, Lord, was just not enough for all that you gave me to do! The old Eve apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?

It is Wednesday. That means you have time to prepare for a Sunday where you put it all down. You have time to turn to the Lord in faith, to trust Him to provide enough minutes, enough clean socks, enough plans and executions of those plans, enough grace for a Monday morning even if you take a bona fide day of rest. Test Him in this — see if He will not heap time onto you with gratuitous abundance.

Psalm 81:10-12

10 am the Lord your God,
Who brought you out of the land of Egypt;
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

11 “But My people would not heed My voice,
And Israel would have none of Me.
12 So I gave them over to [a]their own stubborn heart,
To walk in their own counsels.

2 Responses

  1. Ellen
    | Reply

    Hmmm. Not sure why you selected the items you identified as super powers (#1-#3). Others of us might have voted for the fact that you are raising 4 children, home schooling, creating incredible food from scratch (currently sans oven — unless I am behind on appliance updates? — for children whose tummy tube nutrition delivery system literally could get you off the hook in the kitchen….you can see what kind of mother I am with even putting that thought into words) and still manage copious amounts of reading, creating original Bible study materials, and writing a complex daily blog — to name a few — whilst dealing with unrelenting physical pain and other significant hardships. You are amazing. You are loved and admired. I know you didn’t want this to be about you. Too bad. A fan club member has to cheer and shake pompons* occasionally to maintain status and create value.
    *The term for a decorative tuft of material such as wool or ribbon was originally pompon, which came to English from French in the 19th century, but the misheard form pompom has gradually gained ground. Today, the two are used about equally in English. Two-word spellings such as pom pom and pom pon have never been standard, though they appear in informal contexts, and hyphenated forms such as pom-pom are likewise nonstandard. There’s no reason for the word to have a hyphen. (

    • barb
      | Reply

      Meh. Those aren’t superpowers. Those are just living. Now, being able to pull out completely random bits of grammatical historocity? That deserves a cape.

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