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Red-Letter Profession

Monster copy

Image credit here.

Whole months have rushed by. I have been working harder and keeping busier than I would like. This season of labor feels necessary and therefore regret-free.

I can be a bit of a workhorse. Tackling challenges often invigorates me. But an excess of work without the benefits of regular exercise and restorative solitude is numbing. Add to that picture my recent lapse in the practice of spiritual disciplines, and the result is a high-functioning sleep walker. At least until the lights go out. That’s when the monsters come out to play.

Last night, I dropped into bed sleep-deprived and fighting a virus. As soon as my breathing settled and I drifted off to sleep, the monsters kicked open their cage and ran amok. I saw them from the insides of my eyelids and felt their scratchy nails as they raced circles around my brain. They yanked down my lids and released, snapping them open like window shades. The creatures moved next to my chest and began their vigorous warm up. They were planning a protest march, and they wanted to make sure I was awake to appreciate it.

The monsters had demanded my attention many times in recent weeks but I had tossed them Facebook, Netflix, and coffee and told them to shut the hell up. I should have known better. I can handle one or two small monsters with no more than a few mild abrasions. It’s a wrestle-and-release scenario, much like fishing for sport. I definitely should have known better than to ignore them for so long. The fiends had grown to a frightening size and multiplied unchecked.

Have you ever faced an army of chanting monsters? I hope you will be spared. They are shrill, tone deaf, and lacking in rhythm. The only part they can reliably perform is the chorus. They have that down.

They sound something like this:

You are going crazy and your arms are flabby and you are going crazy and you are a bad supervisor and you are going crazy and you haven’t folded the towels and you are going crazy and you forgot to refrigerate the milk and you are going crazy and your shower is moldy and you are going crazy.

If you try to ignore them, they just get louder:

You are going crazy and you will get cancer and you are going crazy and your mother is going to die and you are going crazy and you will have to work forever and you are going crazy and your children will suffer and you are going crazy and you will get bedbugs and you are going CRAZY!

I crawled out of bed, turned on the light, and retrieved my Bible. Henry was out of town so I didn’t have to worry about waking him. I randomly opened to the book of Mark and began reading. The monsters did not like this.

I read the words in red, Jesus’ words. I rested my palm on top of them. I don’t know why I did this.

Across time and space, I felt his breath and heard the words from his lips. I thought about “the Word made flesh” (John 1:14). In defiance of all logic, we were sitting on my bed palm to palm, Jesus and I. I borrowed his strength to wrestle and release each monster. Jesus and I talked for a while, and I drifted off to sleep.

Think what you must. I am not going crazy.

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23 responses »

  1. I have known similar monsters, Jane, and yes, they gnaw and scratch and keep me tossing and turning instead of sleeping. Before I retired, I sometimes too Advil PM or similar weak sleep aides. Now I get up, go to the computer to work, and at some point I pound away the monsters by writing out the fears and worries they carry. Doesn’t always work, but it usually helps. 🙂

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  2. A lovely end to a stressful post! Those monsters used to haunt my sleep when I worked in business – for me they were stress induced. I’m glad you found a way to let them rest that also brought you peace. It sounds like it was a profound experience. ❤

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  3. Yes, the monsters wake me up every morning, usually before 5 am. That’s my reflective time, sometimes to write, sometimes just to listen to the stillness, the quiet peaceful voice. It’s a combination of meditation and prayer. By the time the sun starts to rise, I’m ready for the day. But those monsters are relentless. I hope you have success in stifling those buggers. Ir sounds like you’re on the right track. 🙂

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  4. Sounds a bit familiar. Been having trouble sleeping the last few days. My brain just won’t shut off. Couple nights I let the monsters have their way, which resulted in hours of words just pouring out of me. My fingers could barely keep up. Last night I had to get some rest, so I just lay there in the dark with my eyes closed just knowing I’d fall asleep just when it’s time to get up. But that never happened. I never fell asleep. My brain just won’t shut off.

    I know the monsters of which you speak. They are the ones who tell us we must be high achieving people-pleasers. That’s a heavy load to carry. You enlisted the right help. I think I will follow your lead.

    Great post as always. Have a great day. Hugs ☺

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  5. Oh, I love this! I call those the screaming meanies. And they can’t be heard when you’re tuned into God’s frequency. Amen to that:).

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  6. I’m really sorry you had to go through that. Yes, I battle monsters like that sometimes. When life is out of balance and our defenses are low is when those monsters scream the loudest. Ultimately, the only one who knows how to silence them is God. You did the right thing.

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  7. I too reach for these types of spiritual reliefs when the monsters start to take over my mind. Those bastards don’t deserve the time of day. Hang in there!

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  8. I so know what you mean about the monsters – I used to wake up at 4am terrified because of them. So great that your faith can see you through this and that you have such a strong relationship with Jesus. That doesn’t sound crazy at all! I had started to pray every day again but then I got disillusioned as it didn’t seem to bring the reward I was expecting! Similarly with my vow to do something nice for someone else every day – I was expecting some kind of payback from God for this and didn’t get the pay back I wanted. Also doing things for other people triggered my co-dependence and if I didn’t prioritise other’s needs over my own I felt crushing guilt. I am now re-evaluating my life and direction.

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