Tag Archives: answer to prayer

Rested

7 May

A few months ago I was struggling with insomnia and anxiety. The two cycled, a chicken-and-egg scenario where I wasn’t sure which came first. And it was only at bedtime. My days were fine, happy, totally carefree. But then it came time to roll into bed and dread would take me. I wondered if I should get on some medication (for sleep or anxiety, I wasn’t sure), but I wanted that to be a last resort. My first resorts were evenings of herbal tea, lamp light, good sleep hygiene, and lots of prayer. I asked everyone close to me to pray about it, because, try as I might, I could not think myself out of it. Yes, that’s right. Me, a psych major and lay mental health awareness-freak was still thinking “if I try harder, if I do something right, this will go away.” The exact type of thinking I’ve always believed our society needs to abolish, because that’s the approach to mental illness that’s probably least effective.

Objectively I knew how a behavioural therapist might approach my problem. I knew what questions to ask myself, and I knew what good behaviours and thinking patterns to apply. Except, news flash, playing therapist to yourself is also pretty ineffective. Normally at this point, I’d have already consulted a doctor. But finding someone in Chuncheon was unlikely, plus there’s always the added negative of everyone suddenly knowing my health status (and I mean everyone). That’s just the sort of thing that happens when you have health issues in a different country. You need help and translation for every little thing. People tend to worry more about you.

The upshot: time would have to tell. I played my psych games, I drank my ginger tea. I still lay wide awake in bed, exhausted, shaking for no reason, heart racing as if I were about to go bungee  jumping, and pleading with God to give me rest. Sometimes He did, and there was a short respite. But it inevitably happened again.

Then, a few days ago, it dawned on me. I’ve been sleeping normally! I only noticed because I had another mediocre night (not terrible), and that was the break from normality that drew my attention. That’s when something else dawned on me: how true it is that we most turn to God in the bad, and not as much during the good. It’s easy to pray about stuff that’s making us feel bad, and we can be thankful when good things are being added to our lives. But when the bad gets subtracted? We no longer have to think about it, and therefore tend not to notice. Like when you take a painkiller, waiting those minutes before it kicks in: horrible. But before you know it, it’s like, “where’d my headache go?” Such as it was in the case of Deborah’s anxsomnia! Every night I was hitting  a brick wall, wondering when God would take compassion on me. Then when He did, I didn’t so much as thank Him, because I didn’t even notice.

I have a post-it by my bed, the prayer leftover from my sleepless nights:

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. – Psalm 94:19. Lord, that it may be so with me. Deliver me, that I may rest in you.

What it means to rest in the Lord is a lesson I’m still learning. I can use every pat textbook cure until the cows come home, but it’s not till I realize that God is the only thing I should lean on for consolation that I’ll actually find it. And when I do, the impulse shouldn’t be toward neutrality, ambivalence, or forgetfulness. It should be toward joy! Thankfulness! Praise!

This isn’t me saying I’m cured. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have a problem like this again in the future. But until that happens, and/or when that happens, I’m going to remind myself that God already brought me through it before. He is faithful and He will do it – again and again, I believe my God will bring me through until I learn not just to praise Him in the storm, but also the sun and the drizzle. He always has compassion, we just have to train ourselves to see it.