When it’s quiet – part two

Suppose I could use my sleepless night now to finish the reflections on troublesome pre-bed thoughts and difficulties falling asleep.

Sleep

Is a mystery. We are well acquainted with it. We can learn about the physiology of it. Yet when I consider sleep (in an abstract sort of way), it’s mind-boggling how it comes and goes, and what happens to us as the hours pass each night. The need to sleep, the inability at times to even make ourselves fall sleep, is humbling.

“Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God.” –  A Brief Theology of Sleep, John Piper

Desires

Are most keenly felt when it’s quiet. As are our heartaches and losses.

“We all have this place. Life has not turned out the way we want, and we know God could have handled things differently… How do we live with desire we cannot take care of and heartache we cannot prevent? We groan and wait.” Desire, John Eldredge

Groaning

Too busy to be sad? Groaning makes a time for itself anyway.

“How can we live without groaning? If we do not give our ache a voice, it doesn’t go away. It becomes the undercurrent of our addictions… Just because we do not feel it doesn’t mean it is not there. Our pleasant experience may be the result of the thousand distractions that fill our waking moments.” Desire, John Eldredge

There is such inexpressible weariness in living. We groan, sensing there is something wrong about living with suffering, futility, in a world corrupted by sin. About living with sickness and death, fears, conflicts, broken relationships and unfulfilled longings. In groaning, Christians or not, we often ponder on the difficult but important questions about our existence and future. In groaning, the children of God long all the more for an Earth made new, to dwell with God, and for him to wipe away all our tears, pain and death.

Poverty

In self sufficiency, we neither feel lacking in anything, nor do we feel unwell, without God. Doesn’t feel that God is big or that we are small. Shouldn’t we be able to sort ourselves out if we have sharp minds, adequate resources, years of experience, a few books at hand, sensible friends? (And a good doc? Haha.) Yet, when it’s quiet, in despair or weariness, it’s easier to see our emptiness and desire to be filled with a hope and joy that lasts.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” – Matthew 5:3-4

 

Be filled

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – ‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:13‬

Hope, joy and peace are frustratingly elusive when we try to conjure them up, obtain them, make them grow, by our own efforts alone.

Another Sunday

Prayers for another Sunday

“Lord, make me childlike. Deliver me from the urge to compete with another for place or prestige or position. I would be simple and artless as a little child. Deliver me from pose and pretence. Forgive me for thinking of myself. Help me to forget myself and find my true peace in beholding Thee. That Thou mayest answer this prayer I humble myself before Thee. Lay upon me Thy easy yoke of self-forgetfulness that through it I may find rest. Amen.”

– The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer

“The beloved of the Lord dwells in safety. The High God surrounds him all day long, and dwells between his shoulders.”‭‭ 

– Deuteronomy‬ ‭33:12‬

When it’s quiet – part one

It’s hard to write about med things without feeling bitter. So first, let’s get the bitterness out of the way. Even when the day to day is fine, it’s difficult to accept a career trajectory that feels forced upon you. I always thought people close to you come before work. But sacrifice come at a price. Maybe I’m particularly selfish, but I’m finding it a real struggle each day.

The darkest times have often been the minutes and hours before bed. I’ll spare you the creative details but I wrote a story years ago about the monsters Pain, Loneliness and their master Despair – who always visited “at night, when silence and darkness prevailed”.

Apparently I’m not the only one.

The woman in her mid fifties whose husband left her for a younger woman some years ago. “The kids adored the other woman and didn’t understand why I was so bitter. He took my frequent flyer points to take her to the US! He said I didn’t need them anyway. He died suddenly, at the gym on the treadmill. You know, impressing her. He used to say that no one would love me and if another man would sleep with me, he would shake his hand. I used to hear him taunt me, now I don’t. I’m still single and tried dating but it hasn’t worked. Work isn’t as creative as I’d like it to be. The kids are grown up and I flew over to visit them last Christmas. I was sitting in front of the telly eating by myself on Christmas Eve. They love me but I know they have their own lives now… I have a bedtime routine. Read a book, do some relaxation exercises. Then I would turn off the light but flip over and be wide awake. At night I think about these things. About my life, where it’s going, the big questions.”

Often it comes in the form of asking for sleeping pills. Another woman left her ex-husband and three kids back in her country for him. They used to call each other every day before she migrated, though the phone bills were very expensive. They’ve been together for the last two years but now he’s moved to a new job interstate. They still talked but were slowly drifting further and further apart. She kept thinking and thinking and couldn’t sleep.

Occasionally men cry during consults too. The tough looking bloke had workplace troubles and had been feeling down. “I have the missus and the kids. I don’t want them to see me like this. But when it’s quiet, I was thinking,” he grabs a tissue, “…what’s the point. It wouldn’t even matter if I wasn’t here…”

A patient I saw for spirometry results. They were normal. She attributed her symptoms to stress and grief. “It happened last year. He was so healthy, still doing fly-in fly-out months before he got sick. He had mesothelioma and it all happened so suddenly. There’s nothing there for me now. Oh I know I’m not the only woman to be widowed… I know I need to stand on my own feet. But I’ve done nothing, I’ve just been a vegetable. I came here to stay at my sister’s. I’ve only just started to cook a little. My sister and I have different cooking styles, I use a bit more flavour and my brother-in-law is thrilled. We go for walks. I tried a bit of adult colouring-in to relax. But at night when I close the door, I’m all alone and it’s really hard.”