Night time was the worst for me while I was in the hospital. It wasn’t because the nursing staff kept waking me up. It wasn’t because of the beeping machines or my need to lie at a 30 degree angle at all times. It was the worst because it was the time I tended to drift into darkness. I’m not sure what of the darkness was drug induced, or what was spiritual, but the depths of fear seemed to engulf me as I entered into what felt like each night’s waking bad dream. I carried this home and named it “sleep trauma.”
Thankfully, I have begun to gradually acclimate to night time as a gift, not a threat to stay awake against.
In all honesty, God did not seem particularly near to me or tangibly supportive. I felt alone, afraid, and uncertain of what the future might bring. From the outside, it seemed to Beth that I had turned in on myself. I was in pure survival mode, physically present to those with me, but emotionally and mentally curled up in a self-protective ball.
However, in the midst of this, and all alone in my thoughts and fears, I would hear, unbidden, a gentle, non-coercive Voice. Generally, and for no apparent reason, it seemed to come from somewhere next to my right shoulder. All I would hear was the simple, straight-forward invitation, “Tell Me what you're experiencing right now.” That was it.
But for a moment, just being invited to express what I was really experiencing, felt like companionship. I no longer felt utterly alone, even though I still felt the terror and uncertainties of my life. I would respond with simple, inner descriptions of what I was experiencing. Nothing more, but certainly nothing less.
Was it enough? It had to be. It was all that I was given. I was grateful then, as I am now, for those brief moments. Even since I’ve been home, I find myself occasionally invited throughout my day to respond to the same prompt and simply tell God what I’m experiencing right now.
A few days ago, I was in my office attempting to process more of what I’d recently undergone as well as what I am still struggling with. I looked up and noticed the crucifix I have hanging on the wall. I’ve looked at it hundreds of times. But there was something different as I gazed at it this time. It seemed that I saw it, rather I saw Him there for the first time. As I looked at Jesus pinned to the cross, unable to move, His recent agonies evidenced in His flesh, I spoke out loud, “You get it, don’t You?” Yes, indeed, he does.
A Short Supplement: I mentioned my “sleep trauma” earlier. For several nights after I came home it continued. Even though the physical trauma of the event only lasted 3-4 weeks, I was completely lost as to how I might reverse what I seemed to be carrying in my body and into each night. While we were at the cabin, where I hoped to rest and recover, I continued to struggle. Out of my desperation I did a search on the phrase “sleep trauma” and came across this YouTube Video: Sleep Meditation - Heal from Trauma. While it was a bit of a stretch for me to try this–the language different, the tempo monotonous–it was an immense help in putting myself to sleep!