United Church of Christ

Lying Awake and Sitting Still

Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” - Mark 14:32 (NRSV)

I’ve spent four years lying awake. I could patent my cure for the insomnia epidemic that health journals keep citing. Forget white noise, singing bowls, and wind chimes. The cure for sleeplessness is the sound of the car door.

They are home. Nothing happened. You can sleep.

But lying awake is something I do for me. No, I don’t like it, but my kids have no idea their late nights, my consumption of articles about teenage risky behavior, and some remembered crises from my own and their histories keep me tossing and turning. My daily rush to sit still is what I do for them. And funny thing—it’s good for me.

I’m in my home office from 3:00 to 3:15 in the afternoon. My feet are up and my coffee cup is half-full as if I have been there for hours, rather than flying in at 2:55. It is the interlude when one of them comes in, flops on the futon for no more than fifteen minutes and free associates the school day, romance, friendship drama, and miscellaneous-what-matters. Then it’s over. Off to part-time job, study, Instagram. It’s never postponed. Sometimes it’s lost.

Sitting, I hear about turning in a friend with bulimia, experiments with e-cigarettes, body shaming, a mean teacher, a kind teacher, queries on the difference between hijab and niqab, sex, recipes.

And I am not only sitting. I’m also still.

Prayer
God, help me listen, love, listen, learn. Let myself be available, lighten up at two in the morning. Let myself stay awake because there is a lot of Gethsemane out there, and listen.

Small Group Discussion

Hard and HolyAbout the Author
Maren Tirabassi contributed this devotional (edited for length) to Hard and Holy: Devotions for Parenting, a collection of spiritual encouragement and practical solidarity and messy joy. Order Hard and Holy here.

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