While we were cheering Elbie on in her lovely story, one of the other artists in our small group was struggling: why should Elbie get an answer, so effortlessly it seemed, while she was grappling at the school with no breakthroughs?
As Elbie finished her story, this other artist confessed to feelings of jealousy. When would it be ‘her turn?’ But as we nodded in sympathy, she went on to reassure us, “Don’t worry, I’ve worked through the feelings of jealousy, and God did give me an answer…”
This artist has battled with insomnia while at the school, to the point that we are working with her and our team nurse to schedule extra nap times, excuse her from some classes and activities, and find some natural sleep aids. In the meantime, while we work to get a good sleep pattern established, we are working deeply on heart issues that might be behind the insomnia. Because of the intensity of this deep inner work, and the sleeplessness, we counseled her to avoid heavy theological reading, or listening to sermons, when awake at night, but to listen to worship music instead.
The weeks rolled by, with seemingly no headway on either front, and we were all getting frustrated with the lack of breakthrough.
But this artist plugged along, and plugged in her earbuds one sleepless night to listen to some worship music. Only the iPod stuck on a sermon. No matter what she tried, she could not get the iPod to move off this particular sermon, which she had heard over and over before. Finally she gave up, and just resigned herself to listening to the sermon, over and over again, sleepless on a couch in our chapel.
Two sentences popped out: that depression can be caused by comparing oneself with others. And that she could ‘talk to her soul’ and tell it things that would help her overcome. For some reason, this night, this umpteenth time of listening, these sentences came alive for her, and she realized she could change the soundtrack in her mind, and break the cycle of depression, anxiety and insomnia it was leading her to.
She began talking to her soul, and arrived this morning to confess not only jealousy but joy. The smile was real and deep, and though her battle with insomnia is not over yet, it is only a matter of time. Months of lying awake are falling away into moments now of ‘waking up’—spiritually—and soon I expect this artist will be sleeping the sleep of infants.
But for now, we cheered again, gathered for hugs again, and then our time was up. I left to put my materials in the office, then returned to our gathering place to collect my forgotten water bottle. I walked into Elbie and this artist, locked in a tight bear hug, beaming. I laughed and again wished I had my camera. “We just realized we had the same Husband,” they responded, giggling, and we had a good laugh, followed by a good group hug.
I love these girls! Pray for this one artist to win the battle against insomnia, by winning the inner battles first. Each day is one step closer to victory.