The Wait of the Dark


That plan makes no sense • They probably don't even like you • Your arm is numb, what would you do if it was a heart attack? • Maybe it's a stroke. •  What was that hospital with the stroke commercial? • You're writing a book? Ha! Who do you think you are? • She really hates you. • Why in the world do you even write anything? • He's twitching again. • You seriously just need to stop putting yourself out there. • It'd be better to just delete everything. • You have no business talking to her. • You forgot to return that call. • You really don't fit anywhere, do you? • Is it raining again? • Your kids could have died with what you let them do today. Picture it. In detail. • Do you really have any real friends? • I just heard their door open. Why is he up again? • God, why can't I sleep? • I hate this.

A few nights ago found me up for hours. Tossing back and forth, wild sentences coursing through my brain, ridiculous words spoken in my ear. Some laughable, some downright evil, almost all of them untrue. What is it about the darkness? Why is it that these worries and crazy whispers hold so much power at night? Maybe it's just me. I wouldn't say I have an issue with anxiety but I've had a handful of panic attacks in my life and the insomnia that's increased with each pregnancy has now found its way into my non-pregnant brain. Only this time it's accompanied by awful thoughts that hound me for hours. I've figured out that they always happen like clockwork during certain times of my cycle which is interesting and diffuses a bit of its power. It makes me wonder if there is something I need to address and what is causing it. Whatever it is, it's downright maddening some nights. There's something about the darkness that messes with our minds. Things that are obviously clear in the light of day are fuzzy at night. The darkness tempts us to assent to lies and question everything that He has revealed in the light. The Hail Marys of a disjointed Rosary sometimes help sometimes not. I eventually fall into a dissatisfying sleep to be awakened what feels like mere minutes later to have to start the day and run this show just like every day before.

It's amazing to me that something can seem so real at night but laughable and revealed as a total lie when the sun comes up. What is it? Why does the night hold such power? Is it just a tired brain? Is it the quiet? Is it the absence of light that pulls us inwards, that tempts us to assent to an altered reality? Or perhaps (or also) God uses the darkness of night to drive home deeper truths. He certainly uses the imagery of light and darkness often in His Word. Without our lived experience of darkness would we understand as well what He means when He talks about sin and evil and death? In the darkness we can't see what is real, we are blind, we can't trust our senses, we can't even trust our thoughts. In the light we have strength, clarity, and we can trust that what we see is true. The fears and entities that taunt us in the darkness lose their power in the light. When we bring situations, beliefs, shame, sin, and fears into the light, they lose their power. We are better able to remember again who we are and whose we are. But the enemy would love for us to let those voices and lies cling. Weakened by the exhaustion, we can make agreements and assent to lies even during the day that cause him to lick his lips in anticipation.  

I'm not all that good at writing that tidies up every struggle into a neatly wrapped spiritual lesson. In fact, I'm not really sure where I'm even going with this. But I thought it needed to spoken and I thought there might be other people out there who know the darkness and its voices and even struggle with those voices clinging to them when the day breaks. What I can do is something small, but something nonetheless. If maybe this is you, I can be that person - a little voice perhaps, but a voice nonetheless speaking truth to you in the midst of the darkness. Those voices speak lies. Those words are untrue. You are worthy and loved and you have something beautiful to offer the world. Your gift is valuable and your God is bigger than all of your worries.  Even when the worry or fear is rooted in reality, you have a God that loves you as the most loving of Fathers and He is worthy of trust. His desire is always - always - for your good, even when it requires walking through the night. During those dark places, cling to and wait for the Morning Star. It is coming. Pray your prayers, whisper His Word of truth into the darkness, choose to believe in light when the darkness seems to never end. He is a God that can crush our enemies and the whispers that bring us to fear and despair. Ours is a God of light, of truth, of hope, of gifts. He is a God who fulfills His promises and walks with us through the darkness to an even brighter light. I've seen it happen and you probably have, too. Draw strength from the memories of those times. Hang in there. Trust when it seems ridiculous, cling to hope when it is darkest, and together, we can wait for the morning.


10 comments

  1. You poor thing! I can understand everything you wrote, I have terrible insomnia, especially after my 4th was born threee years ago, I can't shake it, I am up most nights until maybe 3 am and often don't sleep at all, I just get up at 5.00 am. and my kids first wake up at 5.00 am for the day. I also have terrible sleep jerks (hypnic jerks) that prevent me from falling asleep. I know the evil one messes with me almost every night, have you tried praying directly to Jesus to send the devil away, or to your guardian angel, st, Michael or Mary? I hope you sleep well again soon! Prayers from Austria for you! Anne

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    1. Thank you! I'm so sorry you deal with it so much worse! I should be better about praying that way...I'm so exhausted/delirious I often don't even think to right away.

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  2. Oh Mary! I am sorry you have struggled lately. The night is so hard, you're right. One thing that helps me is to offer whatever fictional battle Im fighting for whoever actually is suffering that. So, a dream of a kidnapped baby that leaves me so worried about my safe children leads me to pray for somebody who's baby really was kidnapped. A few months back I was almost sick all day, worried about my oldest son who was very sick. I just could not get the picture of his tombstone out of my mind. I (thank God!) did have the presence of mind to offer it up for somebody who's son really was dying and that night a good friend's family was in a deadly car accident and one of her son's died. Maybe somebody somewhere really really needs your prayers? Maybe somebody suicidal?! Again, easier said than done I know. I hate to have that out of control feeling. I hope tonight is better!!

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    1. Wow, that is so tragic but maybe God in His mercy was prompting you to pray for that boy who needed it. I love that idea of turning it into a prayer outside myself and it makes so much sense! I used to do something similar especially when I was postpartum and would have random heartbreaking or evil scenarios pop in my head often. I would stop right then and say a prayer for whoever was in that situation at that moment. But for some reason I haven't thought to do that during the night. Thank you! I'm sorry you have that happen, too, but I love how you've turned it into something holy.

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  3. I have a Kindle Paperwhite with the Bible, Imitation of Christ, and several other Catholic classics downloaded onto it for free. I wake up every night at 2 or 3 AM.
    It may take an hour or two, but I eventually fall asleep, and the reading keeps away those thoughts. The back light on the Kindle will not wake up anyone else.
    (You can also pray the Hours in the night, and that puts me to sleep as well.)

    Just when all your children sleep through the night, it seems your body goes into this wakeful mode. I do think it is hormonal because the older I get, the worse it is.







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    1. Great ideas, thank you! Yes, it's frustrating that I've needed sleep for years and now that the kids finally sleep through most nights, this is happening. Ah well...good stuff to offer up, right? I'm sorry you struggle with it, too.

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  4. Thanks for this post. Right now it's 245 am and I can't sleep, again. So many thoughts running through my head! I'm not happy that you're going through the same thing but it is comforting to know when we're not alone and someone else does understand! God bless you!

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  5. So much of what you've written I can relate to- I do at times struggle with anxiety anyway but have also noticed a very direct correlation to these types of nights and a certain phase of my cycle. Interesting that it is not just me! Now to figure out why...

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    1. I know! I haven't found any answers yet as to why it would suddenly start happening after the last baby and I'm not even sure what kind of test I would ask for if I were to get medical help. But I know it's definitely hormonal.

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