Middle of the Night Thinking

night-skySleeping has become a bit problematic for me lately.  In fact I’d say that sleeplessness has become the defining feature of my nights, so much so that I almost dread putting my head down on my pillows…almost.  I’m so dang tired that I gotta at least try to sleep.

Falling asleep.  Not a problem.  Staying asleep.  Feels impossible.

I find myself tossing and turning and thinking. Sometimes that thinking turns into panicking.  Overwhelming fear.  Heart palpitations.  Heavy chest. Shallow breathing.  Fear that makes me want to crawl out of my skin.

And if I weren’t so tired I’d just get up and do something…anything to take my mind off of my fear…off of my thoughts.  But I’m tired…bone-weary, aching joints tired.  And in some weird way I don’t think I want to go downstairs and watch TV and pretend that I’m not afraid.

I feel like I might have to feel this to deal with this to overcome this.  Something can’t be fixed if I don’t acknowledge it, right?

This past month these episodes of over-fearful-thinking have happened a fair amount.  It isn’t even about one thing.  Most of the time, in the morning everything feels a little less daunting.  Still concerns, but not terrors. Am I going crazy?  I’m not saying that to be silly, I’m truly sharing a fear…another fear.

I feel like there is just so much to do and think about and I feel like I can’t do it all…all the thinking.  All the little things and all the big things.

Thinking about my children.  Each one with unique needs, concerns, hopes, dreams, struggles, decisions, issues.

Thinking about the house.  Repairs. Cracks. Drips. Wobbles. Clutter.

Thinking about work.  Lesson plans, class management, expectations, assessments, communication, and time management

Thinking about finances.  How?  How do I get in a better place?  How do I deal with the guilt of decisions I thought were good, but haven’t had the desired effect?  How do I fix the mess?

Thinking about relationships.  How do I love well?  Trust again?  How do I let go of fear when sometimes it’s so physically overwhelming I can barely breathe?  How do I let myself be loved?  How do I make friends when I barely have time for my children?  How do I mourn the changes that have happened with friendships I thought would never change?

Thinking about church.  Thinking about family situations.  Thinking about how to take care of my mom.  Thinking about groceries, toilet paper, toothpaste, and Band-Aids. Thinking about oil changes, car batteries, tire rotations, and brake pads.

It all makes my head spin.

And in the middle of the night, it makes my body toss and turn and my head hurt and my chest ache and my heart pound.

I don’t know what to do.  I don’t have a spiritually astute solution.  I pray hard.  I beg for rest.  I let things slide.  I reduce caffeine.  I make lists.  I tear up lists.  I pray harder.

But things don’t get better.  And not sleeping has so many repercussions…mentally, emotionally, physically, vocationally, and spiritually.

And then I wonder, is it all spiritual?  Is it because I’ve lost my focus on Jesus?  Because I’ve let the cares of this world overwhelm me? Because the weight of my own failures feels too great to carry.  Because I can’t seem to figure out how to walk this path gracefully, without stumbling.  Falling on my knees…not how I want to fall…in prayer.  I fall in fear, in failure, in fatigue.

And I think, wasn’t it just last week?  What did I even write about?  What did God lay on my broken sometimes healing heart?  What did He reveal to me about Himself that brought me such hope? I don’t have the faintest idea.  Am I truly that tired that I don’t remember the hope?

I had to reread my own words.  How pathetic.  I remember now.

All things are possible with Him.  This life.  This is possible with Him.

Why does sleep, rest and peace still feel impossible?

Sorry, I’m fixated on the sleep thing – it just seems so important, vital, life-giving.  I’m afraid of what will happen if this continues.  I’m afraid of being ill.

I’m trying to trust.  Trying to trust that this season of sleeplessness is part of the plan.  What plan could this be, God?  Why?  What purpose when life is already so challenging?

Tomorrow I go back to work – I was hoping that I’d be well-rested.  Unless there is a miracle tonight, I’ll go back as exhausted as I left.

Bummer.

Ugh.  I sound like such a complainer.  I’m sorry.  I’m wondering though is anyone else struggling to understand why things are the way they are?

I mean I get the whole “in this world you will have trouble” thing, I guess I’m not getting the “fear not for I have overcome the world” thing.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

What does that mean for this place?  This place of sleeplessness and fear and anxious thoughts and overwhelming demands?  Those are the troubles…for me.  What is the overcoming?

Overcoming.

“To get the better of in a struggle or conflict; conquer; defeat; to overcome the enemy.” (Dictionary.com)

To get the better of.

What an interesting phrase.  This struggle has definitely gotten the better of me.

A new day.  A new month.  A new year.  Seems like a good time to turn the table.  But how?

Especially because my table is upside down.  It needs to get flipped completely before it can even be turned.  But maybe that’s the point?

Maybe all my thinking needs to be flipped.

I’m so focused on the struggle (again) – I can’t see any good.

When I was in the process of editing my book, the editor commented on a section where I shared about getting up early and staying up late to study the Bible and pray.  She said that it wasn’t realistic.  Nobody would believe that that was what I was actually doing.  But it was what I was actually doing.  It was the only way I survived that season – God upheld me.

Maybe He is asking me to do that again?  Maybe, in the middle of those sleepless nights, He is whispering in my ear, “Dearest, trust me.”

Trust me with your fears.  Trust me with your anxious thoughts.  Trust me with your mistakes and failures and hopelessness.  Trust me with your anger, frustrations, and irritations.  Trust me with you children, your relationship, your home, your work, your finances, your time.  Trust me with your love.

I think I do, but then I toss and turn and tear up and I don’t understand why it all has to be so hard.

I want to, but I don’t understand what it looks like when things seem so daunting and hopeless, particularly in the middle of the night.

I don’t know how to stop the ache.  I don’t know how to not feel.

There has to be something that can be done…something that can make a difference.  Because, honestly, in those moments I really feel like I’d do anything to get away from all those feelings and thoughts that beat me down.

They are relentless in their assault.

And I’m tired of just lying there taking it.

Time to turn or flip the table…or turn and flip myself and my thinking.

My thinking needs to change.

I’ve learned this before.  Said this before.  Written this before.

I KNOW THIS.

Thankfulness.  Gratitude. Gratefulness.

I know this thankfulness thing.  I know it is the answer.

In those moments when I despair, pray thankfulness.

In those moments of fear, focus on blessings.

Simple. Profound. Powerful.

I can rest in that.  I can redeem the time from tossing and turning to thankfulness and trust.

I can do this.

All things are possible with God.

I can do this…with Him.

 

 

 

 

A Moment of Still

photo (35)A long wooden farm table, enough to seat a quiverful and some friends, tea in the cup my oldest daughter chose for me while at the beach with friends, a highlighted, underlined and well-loved Bible open before me, and quiet…my perfect morning.

God has blessed me this morning with this beautiful moment of still.

A moment of reflection of all that He has done for me.  Today my heart overflows with gratitude for a new home which has already become filled with laughter and joy.

I feel like David when he knelt before the altar and prayed these words:

“Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?  And yet, this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord GOD.  You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord GOD! And what more can David say to you?  For you know your servant, O Lord GOD!  Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatnesss, to make your servant know it.  Therefore you are great, O LORD God.  For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.” 2 Samuel 7:18-22

Indeed, who am I Lord?  How have you blessed me so?  And yet, it was no giant thing for you because you are so wonderful, loving, faithful, and kind.  Nothing is too great for you, Lord.  Your power is beyond my understanding.  You have been faithful to me and my house.  You have promised to never leave me nor forsake me, and I believe you will not.  You love me Lord – despite my failures and sins.  You are the source of all that is good in my life, Father.  And I know it!  There is no God like my God.

The second night we were in our new home amist hastily packed boxes of odds and ends (those dreaded odds and ends), I stepped outside to take clothes off the clothesline (I had specifically prayed for that clothesline and God even provided that little detail!  How sweet is my Father!).  As I walked across my beautiful yard I was overwhelmed with gratitude and awe of how deeply I am loved by my Creator.  How kind He is to me and my children.

In this blessing of a home  –  which we prayed mighty hard for – God has shown us His love in not only the provision of a home but in a hundred little things too.  Sometimes it’s the little things that speak loudest to me.  The hoped for clothesline, the bountiful berry bushes, the precious nests of baby birds on the porch, the porch swing, the pretty mailbox, the lovely window treatments left behind…there are so many little blessings all around us.  Each room holds a treasure…something that reminds me how my great God takes care of not just the big things but the little things as well.  That He is not a God of just the big prayers answered, but little wishes and hopes fulfilled.

It reminds me of the verses about God taking care of the sparrows and the flowers.  (Matthew 6:25-34).  It is a beautiful reminder that God provides.  My new yard is full of flowers, which I am fervently hoping I can nurture because I most certainly do not have a green thumb!  It feels like each day I find another glorious bloom somewhere in the yard.  It is awe-inspiring to me.  Such beauty and grace simply growing in my yard.  I’m so thankful.

I keep having to pinch myself.  This house, this yard, these children…all my blessings?  Truly?  How kind and loving is my Father!

My Father is beyond generous to me…I always know that no matter what He will provide, help, and love me.

And boy oh boy!  Have I been blessed!  Provided for!  Helped!  And loved!!!

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.

 1Timothy 6:17

I have never noticed that verse before…it says “enjoy” – not need, but enjoy!  Wow!  How cool is that!

I know that God supplies all my needs, and I see that in the house He has provided for us.

I know that He also richly supplies things to enjoy as well, and I see that in the home He has given us full of reminders of a God of loving details.

I’m so excited to share God’s blessing and provision – how He has begun turning my mourning to dancing; and loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness!  (Psalm 30:11-12)  How my joy has come this morning!  (Psalm 30:5)

The past 10 months have been some of the most challenging of my life…I have felt overwhelmed, exhausted, sorrowful, and even a bit hopeless at times.  Although I struggled, I knew deep down that I could trust God…I didn’t always feel it, but I did know it.  I described it as my feet firmly planted in the peaceful current of belief in a faithful and loving God even while the storm raged around me.  Living in a hurricane.

Now I feel a respite from the storm…a peaceful moment of blessing.  Oh how I have needed this…how my childen have needed this.

And right now, I want to encourage you that God is working in your life…even while things are difficult and it seems like He has forgotten you and your circumstances.  He has not.  He is working mightily on your behalf.
It reminds me of the verses in Jeremiah when God tells Israel that He has a plan for them, a plan to prosper them and not to harm them. (Jeremiah 29:11-14) That plan was shared during their captivity.  In fact God was telling Israel that at the same time He was informing them that they were going to be in captivity for another 70 years.

“For thus says the LORD: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans I  have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”  Jeremiah 29:10-14

During those 40 years God told them to “build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.”  Have families, work hard, and make lives, and pray!  Pray for not only themselves but the very place they found themselves.  They weren’t just to sit in their captivity and wait for the good to happen, they were to live their lives and see God’s provision, grow from His preparation, and learn perseverance and trust.

Right not, I can look back and see what God did to get me to this place.  I cannot honestly say that I’m thankful for what I’ve been through, but I am thankful for where God has brought me.  In a several weeks I will head back to work and the children will head back to school and life will be nuts again.  And I pray that I will remember to pray, to live, to worship, to be thankful…that I will trust that on difficult days and in challenging moments God is working on my behalf.  He is always looking to my best interest.  At no point does God sit back and let things go willy-nilly on their way.  He has a plan, a good plan, and I’m part of that plan.

So today, I sit quietly reflecting on what He has brought us through and where He has brought us.  I sit gratefully praising my Father for His kind and loving provision.  And I sit expectantly of all that He will do in our lives…how He will enable me to use this home for His glory.