Before you applaud my youth and vigor, I should clarify that I was not attending a wild party in my honor. As enticing as a celebratory evening of frivolity and merry-making might have been in my younger years, a perfect storm combination of middle-aged hormones, rich food and an unexpected case of existential angst are sadly the likely culprits in this particular episode of sleeplessness.
Insomnia and restless sleep are probably my least favorite party favor in this perimenopausal goody bag. Generally, a dose of antihistamine does the trick, but not this time. On our last night at the beach, from the time I crawled in bed at midnight until my 5:00 a.m. wake-up call the next morning, I could NOT sleep. Zilch. Nada. No sleeping whatsoever. While I often toss and turn when I have to get up particularly early, this was unprecedented. Consequently, I got out of bed on my 51st birthday completely exhausted and seriously pissed off as I anticipated the 5 hour drive home.
It was my birthday, I was sleepy and I had to leave the beach, my favorite place on earth. And the princess definitely deserved a good night of sleep on her birthday, especially if she has to leave the beach, am I right?
Am I the only one who feels entitled to a good night of sleep?
Sleep was always one of my talents. I could sleep anywhere, fall asleep quickly and sleep late. I had a flair for sleeping. I was a sleep expert. I may have agreed just a little with the old adage that sleeping easily was proof of right living and a clear conscience. Clearly, my ability to sleep well was evidence of exemplary character.
When I had babies, I was completely offended by the lack of sleep involved in those first few months. Not getting enough sleep made me mean and stupid. Getting those babies to sleep through the night and take good naps became my reason for living. I still remember the nights of crawling out of their rooms after putting them back down in their beds. I am pleased to report that they took after their mother and are both gifted and talented in the area of sleep. They could both put “good sleeper” on their resumes. Perhaps not a marketable skill, but I’m still proud of them.
I often laugh during daylight hours at the things that seeming overwhelming at night. Spinning, churning, circular thoughts and worries. Doubts and second guessing, insecurities and self-recrimination, fears and regrets, easily ignored or rationalized away in the light of day. The uncertainties and unknowns that feel like an adventure when the sun is shining seem more like folly and foolishness in the dark.
My birthday eve vigil was filled with doubts and questions about my future and the future of my loves as I continue to wrestle with the unfolding of God’s plan and my dreams for this next season of my life and our life as a family. While I would prefer a more detailed and linear blueprint, it appears that this journey is more like uncovering clues on a treasure map. And it is not my map.
So what is a Jesus girl to do as she lays awake on those inevitable sleepless nights?
Psalm 63 offers this advice “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.”
And here is The Message version:
If I’m sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection. Because You’ve always stood up for me, I’m free to run and play. I hold on to you for dear life, and You hold me steady as a post.
Isn’t that beautiful?
At first, it is hard to pray when my mind is racing. So I repeat Be Still and Know until I can
Know that He is there. As close as my very breath.
Know that I am His. And He will never leave me or forsake me.
Know that I don’t need to tell Him anything because He already knows every single detail running through my racing heart and spinning mind. I can just rest with Him and listen.
Know that we are each in His hands. And they are very big hands indeed.
Be Still and Know that He is God.
And I am not.
I love you too, God.