As per usual the job search continues. I’ve applied to several jobs this week in a couple different cities. But I’m not here to talk about that today. I wanted to share with y’all something that I’ve come full circle in realizing lately. It’s brought me so much peace and joy that I can’t stand to keep it to myself!
Something that I haven’t ever talked about on here are my sleeping habits. Part of that is for obvious reasons– I mean, who needs to know about that, right? But the other reason is because it’s not the most casual thing in the world to talk about either. You’ll see why further into this. (Beware: Some of this may seem lofty to some of y’all. But it is very real, so don’t think I’m crazy– say all the crazy people, right? No, but I’m serious).
Growing up, I have never liked sleeping alone. It’s a bit ironic because since I was 2 years old, I’ve slept in a twin bed. But, as far back as I can remember I have always slept with my closet light on and with a stuffed animal by my side. About 10 years ago, I also added leaving worship music on my stereo at night as I sleep (set at volume level 1, so I don’t wake anyone up). I’ll explain that later too.
When I was about 6 years old, I had issues with anxiety and irrational fears. I’ll spare you the details, but it was like something out of a horror movie. I couldn’t sleep at night, and being alone was torturous. There were times that I felt like I couldn’t escape my fear and the only way out was just if I went to be with Jesus. I would cry, stay awake, and just wait for the night to be over. Intense, I know. But fortunately my parents sought after the Lord in prayer and the Holy Spirit comforted me in a way that no other being could. I learned how to deal with those anxieties and started sleeping again. Still, being so young I wasn’t completely sure what all of that was or where it came from.
Later, at 14 I started having vivid nightmares that I could not wake up from. These nightmares scared me because I couldn’t think of why my brain would create such scary scenes. The situation grew worse when I realized that my brain would create terrible scenes during the day; thoughts of suicide started coming in and I didn’t know why. “What is wrong with me?” I worried. I wasn’t miserable, or depressed, and had no reason to want to take my life. I was terrified once again, and night time seemed to bring about the most anxiety. I would maybe get about 3 hours of sleep if I were lucky. We realized that part of what was happening was due to side-effects of treatment I was undergoing for ADD. It is amazing what the brain can do when prompted. However, that fear was all too familiar.
By that age, I knew how to search Scripture for answers. By the guidance of my parents, I realized that what was really happening was spiritual warfare. That’s what it had been all along. Satan knew exactly how to attack me by pulling the right strings in my brain and getting these crazy results. I was taught how to pray when I woke up night, by calling on the name of Jesus and rebuking those thoughts and fears. I figured that nothing is a better protector than the Holy Spirit himself, so that’s where the worship music came in. I started reading Psalm 91 every night, praying that the Lord would surround me with angels to fight off any attacks, and resting in the presence of the Holy Spirit. ( Side note: How wonderful that we can call on the name of Jesus and have command over everything, right?! Gosh, I’m so glad He loves us and bridges the gap for us!)
Since then, I haven’t had any horrific attacks at night. I still wake up with bad feelings sometimes, but I whisper the name of Jesus (so I won’t wake anyone up), and I go back to sleep.
Throughout college, I never had much of an issue with sleeping. Mostly because I was so tired. I was always going, going, going. I was going so fast that I barely had enough time for the Lord, and at times I had no time for Him at all. Now that I have seriously slowed down, nearly to a halt, I haven’t had as much occupying my thoughts.
I’ll admit to you, I’ve been waking up again and I’m unable to go back to sleep. One night I had a horrific dream, where I knew that it was Satan terrorizing me, without a doubt. (Again, I’ll spare you the details). It has reminded me of the sleepless nights I’ve dealt with over the years, and I’ve been convicted of how often I forget to pray at night. But it has also reminded me of how I once was SO reliant on the Lord, scripture, and the Spirit for peace and life, that it can only be described as me clinging onto Him and His word for dear life. White knuckles, and all. It was how I knew I would wake up the next morning and sleep through the night.
Jump to this past Sunday, Chris Hodges spoke about stress and how many of us, Christian or not, are overloading our plates with business and not leaving anytime for rest. I immediately thought “Well, the Lord has definitely imposed this rest on me.” On the one hand, I’m not stressed at all. But then I have those sleepless nights, which at times I’ve thought were due to me not being busy enough, and wish things would pick up pace. However, I realized, busy or not, this is where He has me. I am here for a reason.
I was so busy for the past 5 years that I wasn’t leaving enough time for Lord. I was so busy, that I was essentially being counterproductive in all areas of life. He has now slowed me down to a snail’s pace, and as much as I want to go back to having things to do, I’m going to get the most out of this phase of life.
As the seasons are beginning to change, I’m realizing, that this is the first time in 19 years that I am able to enjoy the Fall season without having to be buried in books. How exciting! To just watch the hand of God as He turns His earth into something different! And not only just His earth, but me as well.
My soul is craving His spirit now more than it ever has in a long time. I just want to sit and soak up His presence in all things. He is here, right now. So I want to be here, right now. The peace and joy that I am now experiencing simply by being not so busy, is nothing short of a miracle. It goes against so much of who I am (the type-A doer). I only wish that the rest of the population could experience what I’m experiencing right now! But this is not a typical circumstance, and if the whole world were unemployed– haha! Well, that would be disastrous.
We all have our trials and troubles in life, and not all of them are anything like my sleeping issues. Everyone has to fight their own battles, and it is always comforting to know that Jesus is with us every step of the way. I know that I am not the only one who may be at an odd point in life, or dealing with anxiety, or having to make tough decisions. But as long as you are where God wants you, know that He is there. And if He is there, then that is all we need.
I will leave you with this. I hope it will bring as much peace as it has brought me over the years:
Psalm 91 (Message translation):
“You who sit down in the High God’s presence,
spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
under them you’re perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
drop like flies right and left,
no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge,
the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you,
harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels
to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you;
their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
and kick young lions and serpents from the path.
14-16 “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
“I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!”
Bask in the fact that our God covers all!