As I sat there on the couch with my Bible and the study materials in my lap, I felt my eyes drooping and my head heavily bowing forward.
Ah shoot, I thought.
You might think this was the reverent posturing of prayer, but sadly, it was not. Once again, I knew I was going to spend the next hour or more sleeping. Not doing the things I planned or needed to do, but sleeping.
Believe it or not, my sudden onset of sleepiness is a part of the cycle of my anxiety disorder. This time, the sleeping aspect of my anxiety is flaring up because I have started medicine to treat it. Part of the healthy function of anxiety is to give us that extra boost we need to survive dangerous circumstances. What is unhealthy is when your body is convinced that the extra jolt is needed ALL THE TIME and for non-survival situations. My new medicine is trying to keep my brain from being able to stir up anxiety when it thinks that I desperately need that extra boost to be able to survive.
Like when I need to answer a Bible study question (obviously not a survival scenario). The medicine is trying to limit my anxiety while I give my brain an opportunity to experience evidence that it is safe. That even when I don’t have an instant answer to a bible study prompt, I am not in danger. With enough evidence of surviving without that extra push from anxiety, it should eventually stop trying to be anxious about everything. And just relax. Well, that is the theory anyway.
But currently, my brain has not stopped this unhealthy pattern. And so when it can’t access those anxiety-provoking neurotransmitters it wants, it reaches for the reset button. Kind of like when your computer freezes or your modem isn’t working right- you turn it off and back on again. You hit the reset button. Sleep is when your brain gets a chance to catch up, and neurotransmitters get restored to their more normal levels. So if my brain isn’t getting access to the neurotransmitter it thinks it needs, I feel sleepy and start shutting down. I will try again after the reboot. Which I prefer happening when I’m on my couch than when I’m out and about (so thankful to friends who brought me home safely).
As you might imagine, this is rather frustrating. Because I don’t know about you, but I have too much I want to do in a day than to take several long naps! And those things I need to get done are more anxiety provoking than a personal Bible study question (which won’t even matter to anyone else)! My production has been so far down lately that feeding my family and making sure homework was done was the bar I set for success. And I wasn’t meeting that low bar every day.
Resigning to the inevitability of sleep, my soul cried in anguish. The lesson I was reading was on obedience. On making sure we are doing the things that Christ asks us to do. How worthless I felt! How can I impact the Kingdom of God when my waking hours are so compromised! I had already listed things I felt God’s call to accomplish. How can I do those hard things when just thinking about them knocked me out!
How thankful I am that God is with us when we struggle! Though my eyes were unable to stay open to read His Word, the Voice of the Holy Spirit came to me.
You are preparing for obedience.
Oh, how thankful I am that God comes so gentle to us in our struggle!
Preparing for obedience
The Bible study had prompted us to look at the story of Abraham, when God commanded him to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22). When given that command, he obeyed. But that obedience was not something that could be instantly done. He had some things to do first to complete his God’s command. He had to gather supplies for a journey, get the wood ready, and travel to the altar. While it was true that anyone looking at him would not think, “Oh, look. Abraham’s sacrificing his son,” everything he was doing to prepare were steps in his obedience.
Preparing for obedience looks different for different people. My sister worked hard and lived with our parents (as an ADULT) so she could pay off her student loans to free her to be a career missionary. My husband has spent over a decade in training to allow him to fulfill God’s call as a prescribing psychologist. A friend worked to make her home everything that it needed to be to welcome a foster child. Preparation looks different depending on the call.
I know some of what God is calling me to do. And my heart is postured toward obedience. Because of that, I am preparing for it. I’m getting my health in a better place. I am encountering my own weaknesses in a fresh way. I’m confronting the lie that I have to be productive to be worthwhile as I remember God’s value of me even as I feel that I have little to add to those around me. I’m engaging in the treatment that I fear will make me worse before making me feel better. I am trusting God to be good, even when I do not feel good.
Which helps me relax into what God is doing. Even as my brain keeps reaching for the reset button.
This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. – Revelation 14:12
Copyright 2018 Jo Leggett, Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash