I don’t do all that well with tired

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I learned about HALT-B in some class. You can easily tick it off on your fingers:

  • Hungry
  • Angry
  • Lonely
  • Tried
  • or Bored

HALT-B stands for things that can lead us to make poor choices. Poor choices can lead to sin and distance and shame and regret. While none of us are at our best when we are hungry-angry-lonely-tired-or-bored, some of them will be easier to roll with than others. When I’m lonely, yeah I’m lonely but I’m not as likely to do something that I will later regret and potentially have to confess. When I’m hungry I can get a bit testy; but the granddaddy of them all is when I’ve had a long day and all I want to do is go to bed. I am not at my most lovely late at night. To say I’m not a night person would be, um, a colossal understatement.

For me, it’s when I’m tired that I’m most likely to say something that I know — usually immediately– I shouldn’t have said. And sadly it happened yet again last week while I was on a business trip. It had been a long day (note to self, pay attention!) and I had returned from a hot-pot banquet with about an hour before bed. A friend at the banquet later emailed me that I looked tired near the end, but she didn’t think anyone but her had noticed. That was the least of my concerns during the meal! As the guest I kept getting served lots of organ meat. My primary concern around the communal hot-pot wasn’t whether they thought I was tired, but whether or not the hosts were noticing how much pig’s stomach I was trying to hide in my dipping sauce! So, yes, I was tired. When I got back to the hotel another co-worker called because she had had a rough day and needed to process it a bit. I like this co-worker and am glad to walk through the up’s and down’s of growth and change. She was sick, not at her best, and at those times can get a bit extreme. Her health will NEVER recover. She’s a burden to everyone she’s ever met. Darth Vader had more friends than she does.

When she gets like this I can usually use mild sarcasm to reflect back to her the absurdity of her statements. Note the use of the word ‘mild.’ Tiredness can take mild and, if I’m not careful, bypass moderate and land on caustic  sarcasm before Princess Leia’s hair comes into it! That evening I was cruising towards caustic when she rightly said, “Wow, you’re a bit sarcastic tonight.”

She was more than a bit generous and gentle saying that to me! Thankfully, that evening the Helper confirmed with a knife to my heart her admonition and I was able to dial it back to mild. But I know I don’t do well with tired. Late at night I’m good in a crisis, not in a deep conversation and if I’m not on guard what starts off as merely a foolish choice of words can end in blatant, distance causing sin. Now, confession can be made and distance closed. However, how much lighter and freer to be able to go to bed or face the next morning without regret!

How about you? Which are your greatest stumbling blocks?

Quotation of the week: the uneventful day is a precious gift

I’ve been on a business trip this week to Lhasa, Tibet and Chengdu, Sichuan and, is my habit for such trips, wanted a good long book to take so that I can associate the story with this trip. In Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, I’ve been reading about Marion and Shiva Stone, twin boys born in Ethiopia to an Indian mother who died at their birth and a British father who abandoned them at that time as well. They were raised by two other Indian doctors in Ethiopia. At one point Ghosh, their adopted dad, had been accused of participating in a coup and taken to prison.

That night Shiva and I slept with Hema [Mom] in her bed. Ghosh’s Brylcreem scent was on the pillow. His books were piled on the nightstand with a pen wedged in French’s Index of Differential Diagnosis to mark a page, and his reading glasses balanced precariously on the cover. His bedtime rituals of inspecting his profile and sucking his belly in and out ten times, of lying across the mattress for a few minutes so his head hung back over the edge – “antigravity” maneuvers, as he called them – were unexciting, but in his absence, their importance was revealed. “Another day in paradise” was his inevitable pronouncement when he settled his head on his pillow. Now I understood what that meant: the uneventful day was a precious gift. The three of us lay and waited as if he’d just gone to the kitchen and would fill the doorway any second. Hema sobbed. She voiced our thoughts when she said, “Lord, I promise never to take that man for granted again.”

The uneventful day is a precious gift. As I come to the end of the trip and will be heading off in a few hours for the airport, I feel the truth of these. It’s been good to
see co-workers and their lives. It really has! But I’m hoping to uneventfully fly back to Beijing, finish this book, and reconnect with people over The Biggest Loser tonight – I’ve heard it was a good episode this week! It is these rituals, like Ghosh’s, that add
the flavoring to what can become so routine we fail to notice the precious gift we have been given: the day before us.

Saints amongst us

Today is All Saints Day. While I love the fun aspects of Halloween – what’s not to love about costumes and candy? – I love All Saints Day for the way it ties me to something beyond fun. It anchors me in the past and points to the future. Hebrews 11 and 12 is one of the best known remembrances for the great cloud of witnesses that has gone before us.  While I know that not all come from a rich faith heritage, when people start to share their story there is often at least someone in their family’s past who wasn’t a stranger to Truth.

Who are some of the saints in your family? Whose faithful shoulders are you standing on? In my family it is my Grandma Young. Even as I type this memories of her come racing back though she has been gone from this world for over 20 years.  A strong memory that captures my grandma’s two great loves of Jesus and her family involves a weekend that our parents left my sisters and me at our grandparents.  Grandma faithfully played the piano at her church.  We were too young to sit in church alone while she played, requiring our grandpa to attend with us. Grandma wore hearing aids to help her hear, but for some reason on that day the three of us belted out the hymns so loudly she probably didn’t need them! Grandpa was a sport to stand there, towering over the three of us when he probably wanted to shrink away from the smiling stares.

But I wasn’t aware of that aspect at the time; what I remember is watching my grandma play with gusto and joy as she beamed at the three of us joining her in singing to God. I have no doubt that I am in China as a result of her prayers and faithful life. As the generational mantle is now being passed on in our family and I see the potential in my nieces, I wonder the ways in which they will join the cloud of witnesses. But on this day, instead of looking to the future, join with the author of Hebrews and as we fix our eyes on Jesus, be reminded of the ways he has worked in your life and family.

Who are the saints in your family?