I have a tell that I’m going to admit to you all. It happens when I’m tired. When I’m in the middle of a conversation that is taking everything I have to stay with the person. I start to feel a yawn coming on. And not just a quick intake of air and a close of the eyes. No, it is one of those yawns where your mouth stretches open so wide you’re afraid of tearing the corners of your cheeks.
Immediately I start pouring all of my energy into suppressing the yawn. Because the last thing I want to do is insult the person I’m with. And yawns, especially the big ones, are so insulting. They say, “you’re boring me” or “I don’t really care what you’re saying.” But I do care. I just didn’t get enough sleep last night.
This happens more than I’d like to admit, but I’ve become pretty good at hiding it. Somehow, I can swallow all that tiredness, like holding my breath, for a good long time. But I have a give-away that I cannot control. Inevitably, no matter how hard I resist it, my left eye starts to close.
I’m not kidding. Like holding in a sneeze, my face starts to twitch on the left side and slowly I cannot help but blink my left eye shut. It refuses to behave. It mocks my pain.
Kelly, our church secretary, or “sec ra tree”, (as she likes to be called since watching the Crown), sees it coming a mile away. We’ll be sitting in a finance meeting and I’m staring at a spreadsheet and all the numbers start to swirl around into one big fuzzy blob. People are discussing what this line means, or why is that amount there, and I know it is only a matter of time…here comes the yawn. I try to be sly, but Kelly spots it and calls me out.
What I need to do is go to bed earlier. But in a house with a couple teenagers, their bedtime just gets later and later, and so that precious quiet time keeps getting pushed further and further back. And before I know it, I’m up way too late, and that 5:30 alarm is just a few hours away.
I know I need to be more disciplined about bedtime. But every once in a while, there is grace. A meeting gets canceled or pushed back. An opening pops up unexpectedly, midday, like it did today and I scramble home to quickly close my eyes. Just for a minute. Today, it was just what I needed.
I have been preaching recently on Sabbath and rest. How Jesus offered freedom from the legalities, but modeled instead a constant retreat for prayer and quiet. And I need to practice what I preach.
That midday nap was a gift today, but tonight…tonight I’m going to bed early. And now you know, if I wink awkwardly at you in a conversation, don’t take it personally. I just didn’t get enough sleep.