Insomnia Posts

Because my mind does not fall asleep for 36 hours.

Solo Vacations

It only took a day for me to find out, I don’t vacation well.

I make hasty decisions. When I think back to adult decisions I have made, I have never spent more than 5 minutes before I have said yes. I know I should be a better Christian and “pray about it”, but God gives me wisdom and a gut feeling. My move to Texas, my car, and currently this vacation were rall decisions I made in less than 30 minutes. Most times, it pans out. I have now been in Texas for 5 years. I love my car. Sometimes though it doesn’t. Chicago is a struggle.

I came to Chicago for a Christian conference. Yesterday, I made it through the first general session and workshop. I walked to find something to eat. I settled in at Gino’s East for my first deep dish experience. Before my first bite of doughy, cheesy, meaty goodness, exhaustion hit me. And months of feelings and fears began to surface. Fortunately, a friend called me. I cried. I tried not to, but my tears escaped me…little bandits.

This is not my first time vacationing alone. I have been to London, Spain, Colorado, Portland, and Seattle alone. I revel in those memories. Walking the streets of London in the middle of the night. Driving haphazardly to Seattle. Prayer walking with a faithful dog named Lazarus in Divide, Colorado. This is the first time, I have been lonely while vacationing. No one should eat deep dish pizza alone. I want to experience life with a person. After lunch, I resigned to my room. In the building across from mine, people were living and moving and dancing and jumping. I lay on my bed. I didn’t go back until the next general session. I did the same today.

The only difference between yesterday and today is this. Today, I acknowledge I have run, filling my life with work and school. God will find me in my quiet resignation. I am uncomfortable being here. I am scared being here. I don’t like my withdrawal, but I can’t muster the will to engage. Luckily, God has always found people in the most random places.

Find me in the cave

Find me at the well

Find me in the river

Find me in the jail

Quasimodo is a Person!

There is a scene in the Hunchback of Notre Dame that has haunted me since I was six. The Festival of Fools is transpiring. They are revealing the distorted faces of participants. They get to Quasimodo. Esmeralda grips his face and realizes Quasi is not wearing a mask. With his distorted face, he is crowned the King of Fools. What is a moment of excitement turns to terror as he is tied down and is pelted with rotten produce. I cried at six; because I knew it was real. People were mistreated like that in real life. I cried again tonight at twenty-six.

The crowd turns so quickly. I mean he is animalized. He cries out for mercy, but he finds none. What happens in this scene is the same type of suffering I cannot bring myself to watch in Roots, 12 Years a Slave, Django Unchained, American History X, Hotel Rwanda, or any film about slavery or the Holocaust or genocide. It makes me sick. It’s not entertainment, but a snapshot of human history. Real people died. While, they are honored by their stories being told. It is still a hard story to listen to.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a children’s film. It speaks to the condition of general humanity, but also of Christians. I believe in a story about a man and woman in a garden. Who make a bad decision and suffer some serious repercussions. I believe one of the repercussions is this: while humanity has the propensity for good the same propensity for evil, and are more susceptible to evil. What makes the narrative more frightening is how it’s possible to choose “good”, but still have the potential for that to be corrupted by evil. As, I watch Frollo, I am reminded of men and women (historically and currently) who have utilized religion as a vehicle to control and hurt people. Rather than to love and serve.

I dunno. I have a lot of feelings about this movie, but it is 5AM. Maybe, I’ll edit it later.

Echos of Insomnia

If you struggle with insomnia, you know four in the morning is the longest most silent hour in all twenty-four. If you are quiet enough, the silence resonates the magnificent presence of God.

God who is vast.

God who is real.

God who is strong.

God who is sure.

God whose silence deadens hearts.

God whose words bring life.

God who at 4AM knows, I am delirious. So we sit together in silence.

God who is with me. God who delights in me. God who loves when “I do”, but also loves when “I be”.

God may I find your glory in the day; may I find your presence in the night.

No Country for Old Men

Tuesdays, I go blues dancing. I met a man about 40 years my senior. He sat in a group of three. We started a friendly conversation. He was a great tango dancer. He taught me tango. He was overt in his farewell that he was interested in me.

I arrived home; he had sent me a very complimentary, forward yet respectful message. Initially, I blew him off. It was weird. Men don’t hit on me, in a serious way. Maybe in a jokey, flirtatious, banter riddled manner but nothing more. I reread the message again today. Here are words he used to describe me: lovely, elegant, and pure heart. As, I drove home I thought about it. I began to rationalize it and see hope in it. I began (in desperation) to extract the outlandishness of this situation and romanticized it.

The Lord very quickly shut that down. In doing so, He built an empathetic pathway for women who find themselves in bad relationships. I can happen with quickness and ease. I know there is no good that can come from engaging with this man. I know this is not for whom the Lord has preserved me. However, I know those words (lovely, elegant, pure heart) are words, I desire so badly to see in myself. They are words, I intentionally work on developing in myself. They are words that I wish to reflect out to people. They are words that are nice to hear from my girlfriends, but hold a different weight when heard from a man’s voice. For a matter of moments, hearing them from a man’s voice mattered more than hearing God’s.

I will do nothing with his message. I won’t respond. After, I post this I will probably delete it. It was just a thought I had while driving down 610.

God,

Waiting is hard. Waiting when all has been silent is even harder. I don’t think the desire for a relationship or marriage is wrong. I think You bless people with the desire for companionship. Waiting in the silence brings about as many insecurities as being in a relationship does. Yet, I will wait.

Forgive me in times, when I think You aren’t good enough and that I need more. Father, sometimes it is nice to hear Your Voice through the voices of those around me. Remind to trust Your words and not the flattery of men. Remind me to listen to You. Forgive me for the moments where I forget that You are the one who is the Great Companion.

Comfort me in great sincerity. Remind me that I can be weak with You. And, that I am doing alright being single. That even my singleness is ordained by You. You know that in this time, You get the most glory from my life, and I grow in godly character, by being single. God most importantly, remind me that my life is not about me. Help me to focus on You so deeply and with such intent that all the cares of this life trickle away, until it is just You and me.

Amen

Abba

This song has characterized the last 24 hours of my time with Jesus. Theology is wondrous. It leads to an understanding. God has made it simple to know Him. It is the simplicity of my response to Christ and His cross that resounds in this song. He is not a fairy-tale at worst and historical figure at best. It’s a rather simple surrender. This surrender reminds me that all I do-at work, home, church, privately-is for Him. I am His.

My Prayer

Father, allow these few words to echo into the deepest parts of sorrow in our hearts and remind us that we are not abandoned in our sadness. It frightens me, but in the darkest moments of life I have to remember God is real. God is good. God is with me. God weeps with me.

For us in the midst of joy, let it sing to the deep desires we have to belong. We belong to You. To those in the middle, let us hum a truth and not forget it in daily monotony.

“Abba, I belong to You.”

Midnight Moment

18 hours is the difference between calm and chaos. Well, controlled chaos.

It is beautiful to have an opportunity to sit silently in the living room. How aptly named. So, much life happens in such a small room. A new life, in the form of marriage, will be happening here soon.

I thank the Lord for these midnight moments. Where the world is still all around me, and I have a greater sense of His peaceful presence. That even in the present tranquility, He does not slumber.

He is here.
I am near.
Together are we.

3 Voices

There are voices I hear. I have heard them since I was twelve years old. It was always at night. He told me wretched things. I laid trembling, with covers raised over my head. Lest, I peek for a second and open myself to a full attack. Quickly, I would turn on the light in the hallway, with hope that the radiance of the light would serve as defense against this violent assail. I placed a Bible under my pillow. So, when sleep finally came the voice wouldn’t terrorize me in my dreams.

Disturbing isn’t it? If there was room for mental health in Nigerian culture, I would have been diagnosed. Night and sleep became fearful. I laid wide awake hiding in view of my aggressor. Knowing, insomnia was my sole defense. This voice was not my own, but another’s. The owner of that voice was evil. His malfeasance was deep, for there was no good in him. His demented affliction was malicious and vile. His voice preyed on my adolescent insecurity and romanced it. Quickly the two became one, sharing features: my voice with his words.

His voice softened, but his message endured. I stopped being scared and listened. My voice made the message sound like mine. The words sounded too familiar to be questioned as lies. They were true. They had to be true, because it was me saying these evil things to myself. I followed that voice and its messages all through out middle school and adolescence. The message? “You are not ___________.” Fill in the blank: beautiful, smart, friendly, skinny, funny, good, desirable, clean, lovely, wanted, needed. Like an addict, the voice knew that with each and every message, it needed to steadily increase my dosage for the same high of misery. “You are unworthy. You are unloved. You are bad, there is nothing good in you.” The messages increased to fearful levels. “Why are you even here? No one wants you. No one loves you. No one will ever love you.” As I type, my soul quivers at the familiarity of this feeling. I remember my response to these thoughts. I was dark. There was no joy in me. The voice was not separate from me. It was me. My identity was in the darkness I felt, and it clearly displayed itself in my actions.

For five years I was guided by this voice in all of its rage-filled melancholy. It was not until college, I began to address this voice. Simultaneously, I was introduced to another voice. His Voice was nothing like mine. It was authoritative and gentle. It was the voice an outdoors man who tries to free a frantic animal from its trap. His Voice was (and is) comforting, safe, and dominating. As this Voice spoke to me often the demented monster of my voice would scream louder, attempting to drown out His. There is something about His Voice. Even in the cacophony of  chaotic clamor, His Voice is beautiful. It is the C major to my D minor. The more I heard His, the less I heard mine. I fell in love with His Voice. I followed His Voice.

Soon divorce papers were filed, and I got my voice back. As, I looked at the abusive refrain I sang to myself, the true nature of the voice in the night returned with a new message. “Do you really think your voice can sing with His? Do you really think your voice can even sing His song?” Like an badgered woman returning to her abuser, I listened. For this voice knew there were two ways he could control me. I could sing with him, or I could not sing at all. I was silent. I was scared if I sang His Voice, the voice in the night would heckle me.

But His Voice comforted me. Oft in my weakness, during the night, I’d feel His Hand on my cheek. His Hand would graze toward my chin and lift my face to His. He is breathtaking in may ways, but as I marveled at Him, I could not elude the sureness of His Voice. This sureness was rooted in the truth of His Words. I could trust His Words; I could trust His Voice.

I sang with His Voice. However, the voice in the night still comments. “Do you think you are really pleasing to God?” In the moments when my voice sounds discordant. He says, “Has God really forgiven you?” Sometimes, I stop singing trying to respond back to the voice in the night. However, His Voice has taught me that His Song is my response to the voice in the night’s accusations. So, in all my feeble predilection, I continue singing His Song, and the wretched voice in the night cowers back into the corner and dissolves into the night. As my head rests tranquilly in His Hand, and He sings His Song over me.