I can’t actually remember a time when sleep was easy for me. I’ve always been envious of the people that can lay their heads down, and then just fall asleep. Sleepovers were always an epic fail. I would get there, have lots of fun, and then when it was time to go to sleep, I just couldn’t. Anxiety would churn, like the thoughts that raced in my mind, and then my stomach would start to hurt, and probably 8 times out of 10, I would end up riding my bike back home (sometimes super late, but considering the only sleepovers I ever had were at my best friend’s house who lived 2 blocks over, it didn’t really matter).
Easily falling asleep, it’s one of those everyday superpowers that I envy. Everyday superpowers…you know what I mean, right? The superpower of being able to cook just about anything and making it taste good. Waking up super early to read your devotionals and get a grasp on the day, and not hating everyone the rest of the day because of it. Or growing indoor plants (I throw that in because it is indeed, a superpower. Mine all die, like immediately, it’s like they know they are living in my house, so they just bail quick to avoid a slow death).
All that being said, sleep has been my one great escape. When things are extremely stressful and tense, sleep offers me the chance to just forget. But I can gauge how stressed I am by one thing. When I wake in the middle of the night (because yeah, not only can I not fall asleep, I rarely stay asleep all night), my level of stress can be marked by how quickly it takes my sleepy mind to remember what I have subconsciously stressed about all day long.
Here’s the thing, and why I say subconsciously, because I don’t believe myself to be a huge worrier. I worry, for sure, like everyone else, right? But I am not biting my fingernails all day long, thinking about the worst possible scenario. During the day, I have an extreme ability to control (psychologists would possibly use the word suppress) my runaway thoughts and emotions. And then it’s time to go to bed, and what I was avoiding all day, comes flooding in.
When I was early in grief, either time really, after my dad and after Grace, I would fall asleep and wake up shaking uncontrollably. Not from a bad dream, but I think now, it was from the sheer volume of physical strength it took me to get through the days.
The other day, I woke up, as I usually do, somewhere around 2AM and it took me nearly a few minutes to remember quarantine, Covid and the lack of physical closeness that I thrive on, with my mom, sisters, nieces, nephew and friends. I realized that I was turning a corner. I was getting a little better at handing my fears and anxieties over to the Lord.
I write to you because it has taken me almost 5 weeks to be able to say that I’m doing better at laying down my burdens.
If you are still a ball of stress, unsure of where the germs are hiding, in the stores, outside, in your house, on your groceries, don’t beat yourself up. If you can’t seem to see beyond the numbers, the news and the never-ending negativity, remind yourself that you are normal.
There is a widely accepted idea that the Bible talks about fear 365 times, once for each day of the year, but as nice as that sounds, it’s not accurate. The Bible does talk about fear often, but depending on the version, it can be as little as 100 times or as much as 400, but the numbers don’t matter, what the Word of God has said to us does. Remember even if Jesus said it once, it’s still just as important as if He says it 400 times. “Fear not, you are more important than the sparrows,” (Matt 10:31), “cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you,” (1 Peter 5:7), and my personal favorite, “in this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33).
If sleep is far from you, if fear and anxiety are laying down with you at night, sometimes the best advice is that you are not alone. There are many of us, believers that love and trust our Savior, that struggle with the same issues. Keep casting your cares, whether it’s when the sun is up or the moon is shining, and God will be faithful, and before you know it, it will get better. My dad used to always say to us, this too shall pass, and it will.
Praying for you friends, please let me know if you need to talk about anything, and just know, I will check my phone sometime around 2AM, almost every night 🙂