My mom tells me that even from birth I was a morning person; waking up not with cries, but with happy gurgling, giggles. In junior high I refused to participate in Lock-In because I thought they were ridiculous. I even had a code with my mom. When I did not want to sleep over at a friend’s house for fear of being kept up, I would call her and she’d ask me if I wanted to go. I’d say no quietly and then she’d say I couldn’t, so I wouldn’t hurt my friend’s feelings. She was and is an awesome mother. In High School I still was a morning gal, always getting up in plenty of time to take a shower and make the long drive to school. I occasionally had my late nights but all in all, my schedule was fairly set.
I look back at those days with such longing. Days when I slept. I think my troubles started somewhere around the end of my freshman year in college. And my sleep depravation was not from parties (I went to maybe three of four all through college) or crazy schedule (I always had and wanted 8am classes). But I do think it stemmed from anxiety. I was anxious about who I was, my looks, where my future would be, when I would ever get a boyfriend, and how to handle the ever increasing difficulties of college. I feel like before college, decisions where never all that major and I had my parents right beside me every step of the way. But at FSU I was on my own, making choices that would have such influence on my life.
Sleep troubles followed me through college graduation, engagement, Ben and mine’s first year of marriage, and into the second. It’s a bit crazy because God has blessed me above and WAY beyond my needs. In fact, when I think about my life it is rather easy. Yet, something still creeps in during the night and stirs me from my dreams. Most nights I have no clue why I am not snoozing away like my husband. My mind is racing with only one thought: “Why, at 2am, am I awake.” I have tried numerous solutions: exercise, go to bed earlier, sleep in total darkness, put my alarm clock in the bath room, a million different pills, and the list goes on.
I’ve even memorized the verse:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guards your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)
Yet, a head knowledge or mere memorization is completely different from heart knowledge. Truly giving up my fears to the Lord seems to be so hard. Although, He has always proven to be faithful and abounding in generosity. God has to constantly remind me that He is ruler of the Universe and must be ruler of my life as well.
However, lately I have felt that my sleepless nights are more than anxiety. I know a restless mind is a large contributor, but I think my sleep issues may also be a trial in my life. I’ve always thought of trials as the major events: death of a loved one, sickness, etc., but I’m beginning to see they are daily things and don’t always have to fall under “major” events. Sleep issues seem minor to most but I think they are one of God's ways to refine me as a christian.
My lack of sleep can definitely affect my productivity and attitude in negative ways. Much of the time it makes me grouchy or depressed. But in recent months God has been working on my heart. He has shown me that I must strive to be Christ like, not only on Saturdays when I get to sleep in but on the days when I’ve gotten 2 hours of sleep. It does not mean I won’t be tired, but I think it’s how I handle the fatigue. I’ve also started trying to pray when I wake up in the night, instead of spending that time mad that I can't sleep. On the nights that I do this I might get as little as 3 hours of sleep and my body is tired, but my soul feels much more rested and prepared to handle the day ahead.
I’m still a million miles away from handling my sleepless nights correctly. I still am grumpy some mornings, and I still get overwhelmed by anxious thoughts. Yet, I know God’s grace can cover my inadequacy and He can soothe my anxious heart. He can use my restless nights to mold and shape me so that I can glorify Him. On my own, fatigue is overwhelming but with God as my guide, it is only a season.