From the Vault: When the Night is Dark

Recently, I’ve been looking back at old blog posts, and I’m going to try something for awhile. On Mondays, I’m going to go into the vault, rework an old post, and then post it again here. This morning’s post comes from November 4, 2014. Additional thoughts have been added at the end of the post.

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Saturday night I couldn’t sleep.

Again. It’s been happening too much in the last six months or so.

The previous day, I had been up since 6:30 am. I had worked hard all day building my house, and then I spent the evening with friends. By all rights, I should have fallen into my bed at 11 pm and been fast asleep in minutes. But instead, I tossed and turned, flipped the pillow one way, then the other, kicked off the blankets, pulled them back on, waiting, begging for sleep to come.

There have been a lot of things keeping me awake recently, and even when I manage to get myself to sleep, I find my fears, failures, and anxieties waiting in my dreams, often waking me up, sometimes in cold sweat. Saturday night, I would start to drift off, then in the fuzzy space between waking and sleeping a dark thought would penetrate the haze and I’d find myself staring wide-eyed at the alarm again, calculating the moments until my alarm would sound at 5:15am.

When the clock reads  two something and I’m breathing heavily from a bad dream, I try to pray. Most often simple repetitions of the Our Father, or The Jesus Prayer. But even still, fears break through like arrows. I don’t know how to shut off the megaphone in my head.

And finally, I find rest, but only a couple hours before I’m awake, clearing the cobwebs from my sleepy brain, trying to focus on the Sunday morning task at hand.

At church, in my office, between services, feeling tired and a little beaten down, I reach for one of my favorite prayer books, Ted Loder’s Guerrillas of Grace and I find this excerpt from a prayer/poem called Release Me from the Dark Fury.

Release me

from the dark fury

of assuming I am unloved

when the day calls for sacrifice

and the night for courage.

Release me

from the ominous fear

of thinking some sin

or failure of mine

can separate me from you

when life demands hard choices,

and the battle, high risks.

Sitting in my office between services, tears well up in my eyes because these words, pierce my soul. These days the nights can be “dark fury,” and feeling “unloved” or that some failure of mine will separate me from those I love is always at the forefront of my inner battle.

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Life was dark a year ago. And even though I hinted at the darkness in various places on my blog, there are only two couples who know the depths of loneliness, despair and inner turmoil I felt. In response to this post, my friend Steve wrote me a public response that made me cry. I didn’t know, when I wrote this in November that I would only spiral downward. I didn’t know that I was really on the beginning of a difficult journey and not at the beginning. And in the impending gloom I read his post many, many times. In fact, I just read it again, and it brought tears to my eyes…AGAIN.

Originally, this post was fairly helpless. But, on this side of things, where I feel healthy again inside (although, I told a friend last night, still tender in some places), I’ll say this: if you’re in this space, if life feels like foggy darkness, find the people in your life who will pursue you, who won’t let you be alone, who won’t be satisfied with blow-off answers, who won’t let you hide, who are strong enough to deal with your prickliness. Those people won’t be able to fix it for you, but like Steve’s post, they will help you breathe, they will lovingly remind you that this is only a season, they will spend long hours listening to your gripes and then gently, patiently nurse you back to health. 

 

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