Sleepless in Jesus
I have an auto-immune disease. I don’t talk about it. I’m too busy trying to ignore it. Not in an unhealthy way, it’s just that I have a lot to do in my life and, although I have to make allowances for it, I refuse to let it keep me from doing everything the Lord wants me to do. I take care of myself, don’t worry. I just don’t want to talk about it all the time and make it the focus of my life.
One side-effect of this jerky disease is sleeplessness.
It’s interesting to say that I don’t sleep well in Christian circles. My fellow insomniacs will understand. As soon as I say that I’m not sleeping, not only do I get a barrage of remedies suggested, I get some frowns of disapproval and an even bigger barrage of comments about how I need to trust the Lord and stop worrying.
Now, I’m not saying that I’ve never been sleepless because I’m up worrying. I most definitely have! I mean, hello?! -- I’m a mother! Of course I’ve had worry-filled, sleepless nights. The cool thing is: The Lord has been with me through them all, held me through them, given me grace and the ability to trust. It didn’t generally come from someone shaming me into peaceful sleep. That kind of conversation really will keep me up at night!
I’ve tried all kinds of things to sleep, but sometimes my mind just takes off with ideas or conversations or writing topics. Sometimes I’m just staring at the ceiling with nothing to even think about! I often get up if I lay in bed awake for an hour or more and just read my Bible and pray. But that leaves me pretty useless the next day. I’ve considered flipflopping my nights and days, because I can be pretty productive at night, but I really like this morning person I live with and I want to see him as much as life allows (Thanks, Hubs).
I’ve practiced relaxation techniques which I learned when I was preparing to deliver my babies. I’ve done breathing techniques I learned on the internet (useless). I’ve counted backward from 100 by three’s. Let’s face it: I’ve counted everything from blessings to sheep.
Most people recommend praying while you are sleepless. While this may work, I don’t recommend it. Yes, I know, you are probably picking your jaw up off the floor right now, but hear me out. We are creatures of habit. We aren’t much more sophisticated than Pavlov’s dogs who drooled whenever a bell rang. And so, if I train my brain to drift off whenever I begin to pray, how will I ever do the more important thing: stay AWAKE to pray? Caveat: If the reason I am awake is because the Lord has awakened me, or I have a sin issue that won’t let me sleep, or I have a concern I need to release to the Lord, I pray! But I do not ever try to fall asleep praying whether it’s in the middle of the night or in the daytime.
I do, however meditate on the Word. I let words like, “Thank You, Lord…” roll over and over in my mind as I contemplate His goodness. I’ll be explaining this fully in a freebie offered on the website soon. (If you are a subscriber, it will be delivered directly to your inbox. Be on the lookout for the article titled, “Five Scriptures to Help You Sleep.”)
When my mind is flooded with creative ideas or to-do lists or, yes, even worries, the most effective thing I’ve found is to have visual image of the Lord in my mind’s eye while I place each thing in His hands and say, “I don’t need to think about that now.”
It’s amazing how much we believe what we tell ourselves. Of course, this can be great if we are speaking Truth over ourselves or it can be crippling if we are speaking lies. When I tell myself that I don’t need to be thinking about random things in the middle of the night, I believe myself! And I find myself relaxing. Coupled with meditation on the Word and Person of Christ, I am finding myself melting into peace and drifting off to sleep. So, the next time you’re awake in the night, let the Lord hold your cares while you get some sleep.
“He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper.” Psalm 121:3-5