(I wrote this during the week of December 12-18)
I had the temptation to numb out and to avoid feelings of depression, grief, and sadness by sleeping. Yep, that is what came upon me today.
Yesterday was ugly. I was witness to and on the receiving end of someone blowing up. This lasted on and off for a few hours…well 5 to be exact.
Today I am feeling, umm, low. I don’t honestly know which of the above emotions is accurate. I just know it doesn’t feel good. It is hard to focus. Not only can I not concentrate but also, I can’t seem to keep myself busy.
I only slept four hours last night, so I did take a 2-hour nap mid-day. But then after attending a meeting from 1:00-2:00, but then I was really tempted to lay back down.
1 Corinthians 10:13 New International Version
13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
The way out?
It came when I was reading a book. I opened the book randomly. I started reading and then I thought, “there might be a more applicable chapter.” I found one. As I read about praying with the Spirit, there was a familiar verse:
The first thing that jumped out at me was RESIST.
I was under the temptation to sleep so that I could avoid my feelings. I had already napped and was rested. Now I wanted time to pass without feeling and I was looking for the hope that when I got up, I would feel better. (Or at least have less hours until I would get to go to sleep for the whole night.)
Sleep is not my biggest temptation. But for the day, sleep was the glaring one. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t have things to do. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it had been a one time or infrequent thing to do. This temptation to escape through sleep, however, is out of hand and needs to be reigned in.
The key to resisting is to actually take a stand against. In order to feel better and let God work in my life I was going to have to get up and do something, anything, to not give into my negative emotions.
The second part of that verse is to draw near to God. I prayed. I prayed for assistance. I prayed against the negativity. I surrendered. And while I do not believe that everything is the work of the devil if it is negative, I do believe that my emotions can glorify God, myself, or the enemy. And giving into my depression (which was only situational and was something I know I can get through because I have done it before) giving into the negativity and wasting a day of my life—it only lets Satan win.
Ephesians 6:10-13, 18a New International Version
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
As I may have mentioned before, I use sleep as an escape quite often. We all have escapes. Some people clean, some work, some watch Netflix, etc. Sleeping my life away is not fixing the problem. I cannot change what this other person does. And sometimes I cannot remove myself either. But giving up my days to sleep is not helping me grow through the experience. The only way to do that is to allow the feelings to come and to let them process. Even if I don’t analyze them, I need to experience them or they just build up and cause more problems (which has been happening).
Peter tells us in his writings:
1 Peter 5:7-11 New International Version
7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Like I said earlier, not everything is of the devil. But everything negative can be used by him to disrupt our lives further than the situation at hand.
As I write this, I am listening to Joel Osteen in his YouTube video: Your Time is Coming. He just said something that caught my attention: “If you’re not faithful in the wilderness how can God trust you to be faithful in the promised land.” “You have to be your best right where you are.” This grabbed my attention. If I can’t be trusted with the temptation to escape now, how can I be trusted to resist when life gets bigger. Being the best where I am at is not escaping, but rather dealing and coping.
My temptation to sleep is going to keep coming up. The key is to recognize the real need to sleep versus escaping. Also, there is the need to be aware of how often this comes up. Taking a break from our worries is good for us in moderation. There needs to be time however to process and cope so we can move on in a healthy manner.
The real temptation here was to stay stuck. Stuck in my negativity. Stuck in self-pity. Stuck nursing my wounds. The scripture says “believers throughout the world” are going through the same thing. (in my case = dealing with difficult people). There needs to be balance between self-compassion and wallowing. Self-compassion would be gentle with myself as I experience the residual emotions. Wallowing looks more like my temptation to cover my head and avoid.
I am grateful to have books on hand that are filled with the word of God and Christian instruction. I can’t always just open a book and apply what I read right then to my current situation…. Yet, when it is scripture based and about God’s character there is always something I can learn. Today just happened to be one of those days when I was able to hear the Holy Spirit speak to me precisely when I needed it. First through the inner promptings to pick up that book. Next through the words of a seasoned faithful believer.
Originally I thought the way out came from the book.
Truth is that the way out came from the working of the Holy Spirit. I guess we could say realistically that the way out is always something the Holy Spirit does for us some way somehow. But we have to be open to the inspirations and circumstances that open up for us. We have to read the signs and be willing to get out of the temptation’s way, be willing to walk away from it. If we covet the object of our temptation, it will be hard to not want to overlook or dismiss the way out and still give in.
Sleep may seem like a harmless temptation. But escape is not. There is a big difference. And there is a difference between once in a while checking out of life’s difficulties to give us a break now and then versus a repeated way to avoid dealing with the painful emotions.
Having written the post that asked who our moods were glorifying really made me stop and change my behavior today. It will be a work in progress as bad habits take several times of changing to new behavior in order for the new behavior to become routine. And as anyone who has ever quit drugs or alcohol knows, the temptation to numb and escape reality is a HUGE temptation to overcome when weeks and years of avoidance have become the norm.
So, I no longer drink. And that is great. But I have switched to sleeping for escape. That has to be tackled now.
The enemy would love nothing more than for me to waste my days (literally whole days) escaping and not doing anything– wasting my life.
I must resist.
Until Next Time~