Sometimes, the first thing I do when I come downstairs in the morning is apologize for sleeping “so late.” It is after 7am, I suppose.
I’m a night owl by design. My body’s ideal schedule would be sleeping from 1am to10am, like a teenager on a Saturday. I come by this desire naturally; it’s literally in my bones. My mom has been retired for more than five years, and when I’m up putzing around (or watching Netflix) at midnight I know I can text her to chat because she’ll be awake. The late-night to late-morning schedule that my body longs for? My mom has it too, and finally in retirement life, after single mothering and teaching in an elementary school for more than thirty years, she finally gets the chance to own her body’s natural rhythm to sleep late to late.
When my kids get up before 7am, my husband tends to be the one to get up with them. I mean, sometimes “getting up with them” equals setting out cereal for them and turning on PBS, but still. He’s awake, and I am asleep. Or dozing at its finest, I should say. I hear my kids running like a herd of elephants and asking for more food and enjoying their early morning; I just cannot seem to make my body do anything about it. When I finally amble downstairs, almost fully awake, I stumble in with apologies. And every time I do, my husband says, “Why are you sorry? We’re all good.” It’s both the epitome of grace and the best kind of real-life love.
Yet, even with his kind reaction and encouragement, the guilt floods and the apologies persist. Both are totally self-inflicted and due to the picture I’ve created in my head of what a “good mom” is:
Up before the sun.
Reading her Bible at the counter.
Waiting for her kids to walk in.
Coffee made. Dressed. Smiling. Ready.
I am none of these things. Not a single one. Some people are morning folk, chirpy like a robin. I am like a nocturnal hedgehog, all spiky and not at all chipper. You know what my son told me when he was six? One morning, my little angel boy told me that before I have my coffee in the morning, I’m like a Bergen . . . from the movie Trolls. In case you do not have an overly honest six-year-old boy around, the Bergens are gray, grumpy, cranky, snaggletoothed, snarly giants with really messy hair. So yeah, I guess you could say I’m not exactly on in the mornings.
But at 10pm, I am on. I write. I clean the toilets. I bake. I binge my current favorite series on Netflix. I read. I finish a crossword. I work. Basically, 10pm is when I am one of the sparkly, singing, shiny, nice Trolls (the opposite of a Bergen, thankyouverymuch.) I rock the midnight oil instead of the morning dawn.
My body’s internal clock does its own thing, but often I feel an urge to apologize for it. Here’s the thing, though — I think God instilled it into me on purpose, just like my eyes are blue, and I can (and love to) sing, and I’m right-handed, and my empathy level is off the charts. Those are God-given traits I can cultivate but not fight. It would never occur to me to apologize for any of those traits. And really, since He made us by His design, hand-picking each and every bitty detail of who we are, why should we feel a need to apologize for any of it?
This isn’t about nature vs. nurture. This is about shedding the guilt for that which makes us who we are, because who we are is His, and nothing about us surprises Him.
God is not surprised that I can’t function before 7am. He is not surprised that I wrote most of my books with James Taylor as my soundtrack, or that I cook while listening to terrible 90’s hits. God is not surprised by my tendency towards selfishness. He is not surprised when I procrastinate. God is not surprised when I get overwhelmed, when I cry at the drop of a hat, when I get silly with my family. He’s not surprised by anything I do because God wired me Himself.
Does God have other feelings about my actions and personality? I bet He does. There are always better choices I could make that lead me nearer to His heart. But surprise? I don’t think so. And when I begin to apologize for who I am, God cups my face in His hands and gently says, “Why are you sorry? They’re all good . . . and so are you.”
Tomorrow morning, when I stumble down the stairs around 7:30 to an already bustling kitchen and lean into my husbands open arms, instead of “I’m sorry,” I’m going to go with “Thank you.” I’m going to whisper thanks to the One who formed me (and knows I’m a late sleeper, too).
God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear or self-condemnation, but He has instilled in each of us gratitude. Let’s practice leaning into appreciation instead of guilt and stop apologizing for who we are. Because, friends, every part of us is unsurprising to Him — internal clocks, questionable music choices, selfish ways and all — and we can breathe deep with thankfulness for it all.Leave a Comment