Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Taxed and Tired

It happened that whenever Moses raised his hand, the battle went well for Israel; but whenever he lowered his hand to rest, Amalek began to win. When Moses became too tired to hold his hands up any longer, Aaron and Hur took a stone and sat him down on it. Then both men stood beside Moses, one on each side, holding his hands up and keeping them steady until sunset.  In the end, Joshua and the men of Israel defeated Amalek and his soldiers with the sword.
~ Exodus 17:11-13, VOICE ~

I am a lunatic when I don't get enough sleep.  This is an especially troubling confession considering how often it is that I don't get adequate rest.

Unfortunately, I know what too many of you are just like me.  In the journey of raising our challenged children, we find ourselves buried in multiple tasks that require far more energy than in a home with all typical children.  Besides the physical requirements of lifting a child or lifting medical equipment, there is the seemingly never-ending exhaustion of worry, anger, grief, or sadness, as well as the mental taxing of constant problem-solving, negotiation, financial acrobatics, and creative time management.  Add to that cocktail all the typical demands of housekeeping, shuttling kids, managing education, paying bills, and often trying to hold down a job.  Who WOULDN'T be tired?  Tasks like church attendance, school attendance, or getting out away from our children involve far more than they do for the average parent as well.

What frosts me is the fact that this largely goes unrecognized or validated in the lives of parents like us, who are managing cognitive, emotional, or physical challenges in their children day in and day out.  When we find our "new normal," people stop asking or caring about how we are doing.  The help disintegrates.  The attitude of "suck it up, buttercup" pervades.  

Yet, we remain just like Moses in today's Bible passage.  We NEED an Aaron and Hur to help us win the battle!  God made us relational creatures -- We were never meant to carry the hardest parts of this journey on our own.

I can recall a number of times during our quarterly free respite events where parents told me they were just going home to take a nap while we offered our services for a few hours.  That may not sound too exiting to the average person, but it is absolutely critical for so many of us.

As I wrote on the first day of this new year, I have a focus on only one word for the next 365 days.  That word is CLARITY.  There is not a person alive who can have mental and emotional clarity without adequate sleep.  In addition to sleep, our situation can become so taxing that we also just need rest while we're awake in order to cope with intensity of it.  That threshold is different for each of us.

I encourage you, if you're a caregiver, to join me this year in becoming more intentional about guarding that sleep and rest, even if you have to let some things fall by the wayside.  The turning of the earth does not depend on you!

If you are the friend of a caregiver, I urge you to affirm their need for sleep, volunteer to watch kids while they take a nap, offer to help with housecleaning or errands for no reason at all, and bring them a meal when they aren't in crisis.  Parents who are raising a child with extra challenges don't know what it's like to live life with margins.  They often lose sight of how to slow down.  You need to step up and make it easy for them to take a break.  God wants this to be a community team lift.  Be their Aaron or Hur!

PRAY:  Prince of Peace, keep me in Your perfect peace.  Grant me rest and rejuvenation with a healthy rhythm of sleep and relaxation to function the way You intend.

~ Barb Dittrich

For further reading...


  1. Sleep deprivation is a huge issue for parents of kids with special needs. Thank you for addressing it in your post. And thanks for adding this to DifferentDream.com's Tuesday special needs link share.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I enjoyed reading it and can relate so well to what you have shared. Life is better when you share it with others who are helping you to win the battle.