“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)
“You know, maybe we should start a sort of sleepless military mothers club,” Laurie said. Michelle and I laughed, even though there is nothing funny about waking up every night and not being able to go back to sleep.
The conversation among the three of us turned more serious as we discovered that each of us had different reasons for being up at night. Laurie explained that she got into the habit of checking her email in the middle of the night, just to make sure she did not have an urgent message from her deployed husband. Michelle, on the other hand, said that her toddler still wakes her up during the night. Once she is awake she cannot go back to sleep because she is thinking about their upcoming move to another duty station and all the things that need to be done.
My problem is that nobody seems to sleep through the night at our home – at least not on a regular basis. One night it is my husband’s phone ringing at two in the morning, another night it is our kitty meowing because he is lonely. If it is not our son turning on lights because of a nightmare, we can hear the neighbors’ kids crying. Then there are horses right behind our backyard making a racket, or it is people who are using part of the horse stables as an all-night party hub.
Just like Michelle, once I am awake I am unable to go back to sleep. My mind starts to race until it is time to get up. But is that all? After some soul-searching I uncovered the real culprit that is robbing my night’s sleep: it is fear. It is not a life-threatening fear, one that makes you turn around and run in the opposite direction, but it is a surreptitious fear, one that penetrates your mind like a thief coming under the cover of darkness. This fear is multifaceted and takes on different shapes depending on what is going on in my daily life.
At the top of my fear list is homeschooling. As a newcomer to homeschooling I am still very sensitive to people’s negative remarks about teaching a child at home. Since we are stationed in Germany – a country where homeschooling is illegal – we are staying in the house until local schools are out at noon to avoid questions and comments from well-meaning locals. Still, my friend’s concern whether I am really doing my child a favor by teaching him myself struck a sensitive chord.
After that, my list of fear includes worries about my elderly parents and their poor health as well as my friend who is battling breast cancer. Also, our two cats are old and suffer from chronic renal failure. Of course, fear does not stop there. Deployment of my friends’ and my husband is ever present in our lives and brings with it another set of anxieties.
Oddly enough, it is during those nights when I cannot sleep that I pray the most. When the world seems to close in to overwhelm my thoughts with failure and fear, the knowledge that God walks our paths with each and every one of us is very comforting. Even though our lives are surrounded by uncertainty He is there to guide us.
Lately I have tried to push away my worries with focusing on the love that God lets me experience every day. This exercise of the mind is hard in the middle of the night. Every time I fall into the hole of fear, I climb up by cherishing the time I can teach our child, by remembering the laughter and joy I have with my parents and friends, and by knowing that His love surrounds us.
Perhaps this exercise will never get me to sleep through the night. Still, I feel more peaceful during the day, knowing that I did not waste those sleepless hours by chewing over problems. Who knows? Maybe this is His way of getting me to pray.
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