From chatting with others (electronically, or from a safe distance) I have found that I’m not the only one who has experienced insomnia or restless sleeping or strange dreams/nightmares (or all of the above) over the last few weeks. Its not just that our routines have been changed so dramatically. I know I’m not the only one disturbed by the news and worried about loved ones, medical personal, first responders, store clerks, delivery persons, etc. We are all worried about the economy. Its not surprising we struggle with quieting our minds enough to sleep. Sometimes I manage to do better when I remember to practice better “sleep hygiene,” that is, turning the electronics off early enough, writing out my thoughts and concerns in a journal, praying, reading a book, even some chamomile or mint tea and/or melatonin have helped.
What doesn’t help is shaming. We have enough of that going on in the world in general. Do not shame yourself if you are having mental or spiritual concerns during these difficult times. Yes, Jesus said many many times “do not be afraid,” but he did not mean “do not be concerned,” and he certainly never would shame anyone (besides the Pharisees, that is, and only as a teaching tool). He just doesn’t want us to be so overcome by our concerns that we don’t remember to also share God’s love and peace with one another while we are dealing with that which concerns us. And what helps us deal most with our concerns these days is to reach out for help, and offer help as well, especially in the form of connection — call, email, text, Skype, whatever your favorite form of connection is — for it is not mere slogan or catch-phrase or greeting card pablum that we are in this together — it is in community that we will get through this. Not every person for themselves. Not “what can you do for me”. What will get us through this is to help one another. Just having someone to talk with, or receiving a card from someone, or seeing someone’s face, these all can make the difference in someone’s day. You don’t need something momentous or big news to share; just sharing a laugh over something stupid, or finding out that yes, someone else is also having trouble sleeping, can go a long way toward helping someone, maybe even helping them sleep a little better tonight.
I’ll leave you with the words of two verses of a hymn, an oldie but a goodie:
Abide With Me (words: Henry F. Lyte)
Abide with me, fast falls the eventide; the shadows deepen, Lord with me abide; When other helpers hail, and comforts flee, help of the helpless, O abide with me.
I need your presence every passing hour; I need your grace to foil the tempter’s power. Give me your love my guide and stay to be. Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.