I can’t sleep. Well, that isn’t completely accurate. I go to sleep quite easily. I just don’t STAY asleep. I wake up several times during the night. Most of the time I will wake up one final time, around 3AM, and stay awake until I get out of bed to do my morning workout before work.
It’s been like this for a few weeks now. I’m not at all surprised. This has happened before. There have been several periods in my life that I would go through a phase of this exhausting and annoying sleep pattern.
What’s wrong with me?
We all have signs that pop up, like “check engine” lights on the dashboard of our cars, when something is wrong with us. I’m not talking about a disease or physical injury…although those show symptoms as well. I’m actually talking about something being wrong inside of me.
Dr. Charles Solomon teaches the interpretation of Scripture that we are made up of three parts: spirit, soul, and body. When something is wrong in our spirit (our interaction with God), it directly affects our soul (mind, emotions, and will)…and then the physical body. The physical manifestation of my inability to get a good night’s sleep is only a sign of something awry deeper inside of me. I can treat the insomnia directly, but without getting to the root, the problem persists. It WILL reveal itself in other ways until it is exposed and resolved.
Something is going on deep inside my soul.
Our souls are made up of mind, emotions, and our will (our ability to choose). When I take a closer look, the first symptom I noticed, insomnia, is not the only sign of a problem. This goes deeper than just a problem with my physical body. When I take time to think about it, there are soul problems as well. For instance, I have shown signs of emotional distress. I have experienced a sizable amount of anxiety lately. Also, I have noticed irritability (anger). When I dig a bit deeper, I notice fears are creeping up on me (the usual fears of failure, rejection, etc.). But these are all just feelings. They are what they are. I don’t need to suppress them (which will only make things worse down the line), but I cannot control them or change them.
Capturing thoughts is a must.
In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul encourages the readers of his letter to capture their thoughts, examine them closely, and see if they are true or false. Paul understood just how powerful our minds are. Our thoughts directly impact what we do and how we feel. If I am thinking negative thoughts, my emotions will eventually follow suit. However, Paul was not encouraging mere positive thinking. He was asking for us to exercise discernment to see if our thoughts agree with God’s Truth. Any thought that does not line up with Truth is a lie. If we are actively believing lies, what we do and what we feel is determined by lies…not truth! That is a sobering realization. My insomnia, anger, anxiety, and other symptoms are the product of faulty thinking. And what keeps this cycle going is the fact that it is all hidden.
Hiding is not the answer.
I can choose to keep it all hidden by ignoring it, denying it, trying to handle it myself, or blaming it on someone else. However, living with things hidden (or “living in darkness”, as it’s called in other parts of Scripture like 1 John 1), perpetuates problems in all aspects of our lives: mentally, emotionally, behavioral, relationally, and physically. To really take a step towards healing, we must take a step into the light. It’s scary to be exposed, but we must be willing to be vulnerable in order for our deep heart issues to be resolved.
We cannot handle our sin, and we cannot handle issues related to our sin.
We live in a broken world. Sin affects us all the time. We commit it ourselves. Others commit it towards us. We are left feeling guilty and hurt. The Enemy works through the brokenness to distort the Truth in order to hurt us even more. And we cannot handle any of it. We cannot resolve not one part of sin or any of its effects on us or others….not on our own, anyway.
The resolving of my issues comes through trust.
After much experience with my own struggles in life, including the symptom of insomnia, it seems clear to me that there is one word that is crucial to real healing and resolution of any issue that we may have. That word is “trust”. I rarely can examine myself enough to really see clearly what is going on. I need a mirror, but not a cold lifeless one. I need a person I am willing to trust that will listen to me and eventually speak to me about what they are seeing and experiencing with me. When I choose to trust another person with myself, I get to experience God’s presence. Through my vulnerability, which is a sign of humility, I get to experience His Truths that shine a light on the dark lies.
For example, insomnia shows up in my life. I fight it, but eventually realize I need to stop and let God free me from what’s really causing it. I choose to trust someone, usually my wife, with myself. I open up, tell her about my anger, my fears, and what is going through my head. We take time to examine those thoughts. This is what we discover going through my head: “Neil, you have to figure all of this out on your own. You cannot trust or depend on anyone. They will let you down. Do it yourself!! All of it!! You probably will fail, anyway, but if you work hard enough…maybe you won’t!”
Ultimately, this lie is revealed: “God is not doing anything, so it’s all up to you.” That sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? I know better. However, my insomnia…caused by anxiety and frustration, my fears, my busyness, and my being miserable all say that I believe that ridiculous lie. Once exposed, it begins to really lose its power over me.
The truth is…
God loves me. He is most definitely at work in and around me. I see and experience it best through relationships with trusted people in my life. The best example I can offer is how I have experienced grace from my wife. I can most assuredly tell you, I do not deserve her love. However, she gives it to me anyway, because she wants to. She sees something in me that I don’t even see much of the time. I get to experience this only when I trust her with all of me…even the stuff I feel the most ashamed about. Grace is what I experience, and that helps me connect with my Father. He is the ultimate source of it all.
I CAN trust Him. I CAN trust the Truth, which will cause me to act on it…eventually causing my emotional and physical problems to reside. I’ve been here before. I will probably be here again, but I will not be here as long as I was this time…or the time before that. God is maturing me. That’s how this relationship with Him works. I’m already saved, secure, loved, and accepted. He’s just helping me to experience that reality…one step of faith at a time.
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