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Comfort From the Outskirts of Insomnia

I get jet lag when I work night shift, now. I used to work night shift five days a week. That was relatively easy – I just stayed up all night every night. Oh, I might take a nap on my night off, in much the same way that people take naps on days off. But I went to the laundromat at 3 am, or the grocery store. It was delicious to have nearly the whole store to myself. If I wanted to make a trip to Wisconsin, I would just get in and drive and be wide awake throughout the night. Of course, this had its downsides since I was totally groggy for any daytime social events.

Working night shift once every six weeks is another species of task. I like it because Anina sleeps all night. But I get something very like jet lag that doesn’t resolve for several days, maybe a week.

This weekend, after working all Friday night and Saturday night, I fell into the jet laggy grog that I typically experience. I want to sleep in, and then I feel okay in the morning. Mid-afternoon hits me like a dump truck load of ugly bricks. Then I am wide awake at bed time. Then I wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning and am wide awake, before falling back asleep and barely awaking again when I need to.

I think it was Monday night this week, or early Tuesday morning, when Anina cried out in the other room. She does this occasionally, as I suppose most babies do. I rolled over and reached for my phone, looking at her on the camera. Sure enough, her pacifier was no where near her, although I saw one at the opposite end of her little bed. I don’t want to get into the habit of replacing her pacifier for her in the middle of the night. But she hadn’t been feeling the greatest, and I wanted her to be able to rest well.

I got up and used the bathroom, then crept like a cat into her room. I moved the pacifier to where she could easily find it with her hand. Then I went back to bed.

Awhile later, I checked the camera. Sure enough, she had the pacifier in her mouth. Probably her hand bumped against it in her sleepy state and she stuffed it into her mouth without waking up. Had she been fully awake, I suppose she would have congratulated herself on finding it. But I felt a surge of gratification that I had solved her problem without her knowing it.

Suddenly, I was the baby in the little crib.

How many times, I wonder, has God done that for me? How many times has he brought comfort or hope or meaning into my darkness and I never knew it? How many times has my sleepy hand closed around some bit of reassurance, and in my ignorance I took the credit for finding the comfort myself?

Is God just as instrumental in our lives as parents are in the lives of young children? Sometimes this seems hard to imagine, since childcare is so time intensive. But Matthew 7:11 indicates that God is much better at parenting than we are. In fact, Jesus calls gift-giving parents evil, in comparison to God. This strikes me slightly hilarious, since parents taking care of young children aren’t usually seen as being evil. But I guess he only said that to show that God is so much better a caretaker.

I’m a funny one. Here I am sharing my thought, the one I say I grasped and found as I lay awake during my “jet lag.” In reality, it too was almost certainly a gift from God, perhaps carefully moved from the outskirts of my insomnia to the place where my grasping mind could stumble upon it.

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6 thoughts on “Comfort From the Outskirts of Insomnia”

  1. That is so comforting to me, and so profound! Sometimes I really get impatient with myself for not being able to “self-soothe” yet again, but this is a grace-filled reminder that God doesn’t get tired of looking out for me!

  2. Thanks for this post, brings back memories to me. I worked the night shift too when my children were very babies. Thank you Lord for your care of us!!

  3. Thanks for this post, brings back memories to me. I worked the night shift too when my children were very babies. Thank you Lord for your care of us!!

  4. Great point – and you wrote it in a way that will likely come to my mind during my next wakeful night; thank you!

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