The Monster Insomnia

"When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." Proverbs 3:24

I went through a horrible period of insomnia right after my second child was born. I had two babies, just thirteen months apart. I would only get "good" sleep (anything 4-6 hours a night) every other or third night. I would put my children to bed and envy their quick crossover into dreamland. My husband also had no problem falling asleep. I, on the other hand, would toss and turn the hours away in my bed. 

My mind was unkind to me during those midnight and early morning hours. It was then that I imagined the worst possible scenarios becoming reality in my life. I would envision Rob in a horrible accident, leaving me to try to provide for our two young children. My fears over my children drove me from my bed numerous times a night to make sure they were still breathing. And always there was an anxiousness over the fact that I couldn't sleep. My anxiety would grow with each passing hour of the night as I ticked off in my mind one less hour to rest my weary mind and body. My children would be up at 6 a.m., ready for mommy to be on. They needed me to be at my best. Instead, I wandered through my day like a zombie, hardly being able to function for my lack of sleep.

At first, I tried everything I knew to help me fall asleep, short of taking drugs. I tried to read, not eat too close to bedtime, or take a walk to tire myself out. Nothing worked. Then I started praying. Not because I had suddenly decided to take my relationship with Jesus more seriously, but because He was the only One listening during those long, frustrating hours. He never asked me, "Well, what do you want?" He welcomed me every time I cried out to Him to help me sleep. I don't know all that we talked about, but eventually, my habit of talking to Him at night became one that carried over into the day. In hindsight, I wonder if He didn't allow the insomnia to make me realize all that my relationship with Him was lacking. 

The insomnia continued for over two years on a continual basis. But I started actually looking forward to the darkness. Instead of me mulling over my fears and keeping them bottled up, I poured everything out to Jesus in those lonely hours. He gave me the strength to keep up with the kids during the day. By the time my third child was born, the insomnia was infrequent, but my communication with Him was firmly established. And He gave me something else. He released me from so many of those horrible, irrational fears over my husband and my children. My healing came in the darkness with Him. Now when I lie down, I am not afraid. Would I have ever chosen insomnia to overcome my fears? Never. I am sure that no psychiatrist has ever recommended nights on end with no sleep talking with Someone invisible to me to treat fear. But God's ways are higher than my ways, His wisdom is infinite. I was forced to be desperate with Him. He knew that my insomnia would drive me to Him. 

Although you may never have had insomnia, I can bet that you have had fears just like me. Are you a single person afraid of never belonging to a mate who will love you truly? Are your insecurities like mountains before you, holding you back from the abundant life you have been promised in God's Word? Are you a young mommy worrying yourself sick over all that can happen to your precious little one(s)? Are you a spouse trying to hold on to a marriage that has been such a disappointment to you as you wrestle with the fear of not being able to make it work much longer? Are your fears over how you will provide for your family in this economy? Are you afraid of that sickness that threatens to take your life or someone's that you love? Give it to Him. Jesus wants to know all about what makes us afraid. What an amazing gift it is that God promises us the ability to not be afraid! We all want to put our heads on the pillow and sleep as though we had no care in the world, like my children used to in their cribs.

There is a psalm I love so much that is short enough for anyone to memorize. When I am facing a mountain of fear, this is the psalm I return to over and over again. It never fails to calm my fears or give me courage.

Psalm 131

My heart is not proud, O LORD, 
my eyes are not haughty; 
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me

But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the LORD 
both now and forevermore.

What I cannot control, I do not need to concern myself with. My hope is in the One who is in control of all things. And His thoughts and plans toward me are only and always for my good. Jesus, help me leave my prison of my fears so that my sleep can be sweet.