15 September 2009

the Blessing of Insomnia

“I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow.” Psalm 6:6

At the height of my "time in the valley" I had a terrible time sleeping. I would go to bed sometimes at 8:30 p.m. and sleep till about 11 p.m. Then I would be up with my thoughts till about 3 or 4 a.m. Then only a few hours later I would have to get up at 5:30 to go to work at Starbucks (6 days a week). I would lie there, intermittently checking the digital alarm clock to see how much time I had whiled away worrying.

On the nights that I slept more, I was awakened very easily. The house would gasp as the pressure changed when the A/C kicked on. That gasping noise was identical to the noise that was made by a person walking on a certain spot in the hallway. I was aching so hard for that floor creak to signal that my husband had come home that quite frequently I would wake up at the gasp the house made in the second before the A/C came on. I remember my eyes springing open and I wondered why I had done so... then the air would start blowing and I knew that I had been duped again.

I spent the time mainly crying or worrying. Like a mangy dog gnawing on a dry shin bone, I would go in circles in my head until I finally wore myself out. I can't tell you how many times the Holy Spirit interceded for me because I was unable to form coherent sentences. Romans 8:26-27 says "the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." How true I found this to be, and what a comfort it was that the Spirit of God within me was able to report back to God the Father what was going on in my soul, when I couldn't do it myself.

When I had bad dreams, or my imagination ran off with some horrible idea, sometimes I would just say the name of Jesus in a panicky repetition. Usually, I would fall asleep at these times. Thank goodness that my daughter slept through the night, and I wasn't awakened by anything other than my own fears (or the A/C). I slept each naptime like a stone. Insomnia makes the times that you do sleep without trouble a gift to be cherished.

When it was evident that this was becoming a season for my life I realized something must be done. I began to use the time to pray. I began the process of taking captive each thought. I had tried to throw bad thoughts out of my mind, but they always seemed to sneak right back in again. I learned that the human mind is not designed to be empty- so when I had to evict a thought, I found a pleasant, God- approved thought to replace it. Then, I could focus on the new thought instead. I began to expand my notecards of scripture. I would search the Bible on a topic- fear, unbelief, God's strength- and write the ones which spoke clearly to me on index cards. It created an arsenal of scripture ready at my hand when I found myself getting swept away by my fears. I would read through my cards until I found comfort, or I began to feel sleepy. I have ebbed and flowed through the cards in distinct patterns. I have gone back to the same cards again. I have written some scriptures down a few times. I grew to love God's word so much during this dark time!

This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it- the Lord is his name: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” Jeremiah 33:3 tells us another thing we can do when we find ourselves up alone in the night. As the world sleeps around you, speak to God about your situation and He who understands- who understands you, your situation, the minds of those involved- He can give you better understanding. This time in the darkness- literally and figuratively- can evolve from a solitary pity party into a time of intimacy and vulnerability with the Lord. Take such an opportunity! He wants to spend time with you! Turn the light on and open your Bible when you can't sleep. Maybe that is the only time God can really get your undivided attention!


Sarah said...

Tracy! I noticed that you left a few commnets on my blog (thanks!) But I'm not sure how I should know you? What's our connection?

BTW, I just read your thoughts with insomnia, and I've definitly been there, too, girl. Your thougts were right on, and an encouraging reminder to me right now. I'm often up worry about my 5 month old daughter, Skyler. She's experiencing some difficulties, and I find myself battling fear all night long. I constantly put my hand on her little chest - just to make sure. Ok, I'm going on and on here. Thanks for your encouragment by sharing your stuggles.

Sarah Clark

mama4x said...

Hey Sarah- I know Daniel. I've been on your mailing list for years... I knew Daniel through Westwood- he went to church with my husband, James, as kids.