A funny thing happened when I turned 41.

It’s probably not what you think….

I started to take naps when I’m on the road (or skies). Sometimes, I even take one every once in awhile at home. Eeeekkkk.

Anyone who knows me well knows that’s something I NEVER used to do. NEVER.

It’s actually been a long-standing joke with my mom that I don’t sit down, I don’t slow down, I don’t rest. Unless I’m so sick that I should probably be lying in a hospital bed.

I’m a classic type-A that can always find something that needs done. A quick trip to turn off the lights downstairs after the kids are put to bed can easily turn into thirty minutes of folding laundry, putting away dishes, etc. I’m sure many of you can relate. I hear how common it is for us women, in particular, to find something to do, even when we’re tired and need to just go to bed.

Needless to say, I’m usually running full steam ahead, no matter where I am and what I’m doing. I actually had a professor tell me in my mid-20’s that I was going to have a heart attack early in life if I didn’t slow down a little.

That didn’t phase me, even though he had a heart attack, himself, soon after sharing those words of wisdom. I’m a do-er, no matter how tired I am.

And yes, I am tired a lot. I can admit that. I’m a mom of fairly young children who are fairly horrible sleepers. And a speaker’s schedule, in particular, can be very tiring. Traveling across multiple time zones sometimes multiple days a week, getting up between 3 and 4 am to make flights on only a few hours of sleep, and needing to deliver an effective message all add up to a recipe for exhaustion.

I know that it’s really the grace of God that gives all of us the strength to perform the work that He calls us to, whether it’s employment, volunteerism or caring for our families. I know it’s that grace that sustains me in the midst of long and grueling days both at home and on the road.

Yet, I can’t deny that there have been countless times where I probably should have rested and felt like I couldn’t. Or maybe the more accurate word is shouldn’t. How can you rest when there’s always something you think needs done?

I can hear my husband shaking his head right about now. He’s spent most of our marriage recommending I take a nap, reminding me that really, most of things that I think need done, can actually wait.

Sigh. Once again, he’s right. But yet, over the years, it still didn’t stop me from continuing at full tilt.

Until recently.

When I turned 41, something pretty magical happened, and it wasn’t just Ava starting preschool….although that probably has impacted my ability to get work done in a more efficient manner on the days that she’s there.

The magical thing, or more appropriately, the supernatural thing, that occurred, is that I’ve given myself grace.

Grace to nap when I’m tired.

Grace to nap even before I’m tired, knowing that I’ve got a long night ahead of me and a super early morning that will be slapping me upside the head after that.

Grace to leave things unfinished, if they aren’t a necessity.

Grace to lay on the couch with my kids and watch movies to unwind.

Seriously, I’ve laid on the couch with them more in the last couple of years than I probably have in all their previous years of life put together.

And although every once in awhile I feel uncomfortable resting or relaxing, that nagging voice in my head that told me that I have to always “go, go, go,” and “do, do, do,” has gone dormant.

I’ve learned to give myself the attention and love that I’ve always encouraged other women to have.

I’ve extended myself the grace that God gives each of us to rest and enjoy life instead of constantly worrying and rushing.

And you know what? Not only am I measurably happier and well rested, but I find that I’m getting even more done. I’m more efficient. More effective.

Who would have thought, right?

As wives, as mothers, I know we’re all busy. But there are gifts to be found in extending grace to ourselves. And I’m deliberately aware that extending this grace is not only something that benefits me, but it benefits my family and everyone that I serve through ministry.

If you’re feeling like you’re too stressed to rest, maybe it’s time to take a step back and allow yourself to give it a try. Trust me, if I can do it, you can, too.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go take a nap.