Night Terrors

Have you ever wished to go back to your childhood so that you could sleep with your stuffed animal and feel the instant security and peace that your old friend would bring? Somehow just pulling that fluffy thing into your chest as the lights went out made all the scary things go away. A warm feeling of not being alone replaced the fear of separation from parents, Watching children cradle their “lovies” gives a parent a sense of security too, as we reluctantly close the door and whisper goodnight to the two friends snuggled together.

It is our fervent hope that the safe haven of their sleep won’t be interrupted by night terrors. Night terrors are common in childhood, and are thought to be the way the subconscious expresses daytime fears and stress that found no voice.Watching a child have one is just as terrifying for the parent.

Typically we grow out of night terrors, but they seem to be replaced in adulthood by a similar sleep disruptor: night guilts. Night guilts occur when your overtired brain lays its weary head down, only to immediately begin to replay everything you didn’t get accomplished that day, every harsh word you said (or heard), every feeling of failure, worrying about everything, the oppression of “unfinished business”, etc. Throw in a little stress about tomorrow’s list of things to feel bad about, and you are in a full blown night guilt insomniafest. Bring out the jugglers. Oh, wait, did I remember to hire the jugglers?? What will they wear, should I coordinate my outfit with their costumes?? Rats, why didn’t I hire the dancing elephant instead?

And this all gets stuck on “replay” in a continuous loop.

Next time you find yourself reaching for the light switch at 3AM, read this:

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

“For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day.”

When I’m worried, and I can’t sleep, I try to drive out all those unprofitable, useless, stupid sleep-stealing mind guilts and imagine myself hidden and secure under the Father’s wings. I feel the strength of his pinions protecting me from the incoming arrows of my negative thoughts. His shield bounces away every worry from causing permanent damage to my psyche, and these imaginings help in quieting the insomniafest that rages within me.

“Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
    the Most High, who is my refuge

no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
    no plague come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder;
    the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.”

So tonight, when you fall into your bed, hear God saying this to you:

“Because you hold fast to me in love, I will deliver you;
    I will protect you, because you know my name.
When you call to me, I will answer you;
    I will be with you in trouble;
    I will rescue you and honor you.
With long life I will satisfy you
    and show you my salvation.”

Isn’t that so much better than a teddy bear?

Mr. Elephant, courtesy of Connor James Callahan.

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