Last night, sleep eluded me. I could probably tell you why in detail – in fact, I could probably write a book, which is what I felt like I was doing, in my head. So many thoughts, so many words: A boatload of Things I Was Anxious About and Stuff I Have To Do, along with all of the Stuff I Didn’t Get Done and Stuff I’d Probably Get Asked To Do and my fears regarding Stuff I’d Forgotten To Do. It was a techno-beat of insane anxiety with a light show, and I finally gave up and got out of bed.
I grabbed my green sketch book and did what I have found to be the healthiest thing for me, when my anxiety runs roughshod through my brain. To calm the endless spinning circles, I grab a pen and begin to doodle. Draw. Write. Sketch. Whatever.
I start filling the page, and it doesn’t take long before the sizzle starts to show, and the bubbling lava begins to rise to the surface. Sometimes it burns as it blisters. Sometimes I don’t want to hear it – but there it is, in living color, from my own hand.
I have control issues, but we all know that I can’t control anything, and it takes a moment of stillness to let the truth spray itself all over my ego.
So last night, I realized that I was afraid. And I was grieving. The two were connected, even as they stood separately, because I was even afraid of the grief.
I grabbed a Bible, because – as a person of faith – we are conditioned to look to the eternal story of God’s interaction with humanity as a place to find answers. I opened it – but I stopped, because another emotion spit itself out and I realized that I was also angry.
What a mess. No wonder I couldn’t sleep.
This is not a new thing for me; it has become a familiar part of the rhythm of my life. I have to acknowledge all of the subterranean sentiments commingling in my soul and give them air, bring them into the light. In the freedom found outside the shadows, truth breathes, and my brain calms. The emotions first fuse together, and then they separate, and I can process them one by one.
It is an act of submission.
And the story of God’s interaction with humanity does, in fact, offer up something helpful, in that I can identify with the rawness of the poetry, the sinew of connected tissue from centuries ago that resonate with me here, today. In need of comfort, I found this attestation:
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise gives me life.
This is not a sermon; I am not in search of ways to connect these words to something meaningful for you. I am simply saying that in the bedlam of my control-seeking, anxiety-ridden mind, the process of letting the truth simmer to a place of awareness, I realized an aching need for comfort.
And the acknowledgement of these age-old words to the commonality of human pain gives me rest, somehow. There is the promise of life; take it whatever way you will: The idea that mercies are new every day, that we are resilient, that we will learn to live in a new normal, that we will move forward. Also, the idea that there is life on either side of the veil, and that the very depth of my soul has seen that the curtain is thin, indeed; that life is beyond the here and now, far into an eternity that we really cannot even begin to understand or explain. It is a complete mystery; but it is there, inscrutable and compelling, and just beyond our reach.
But not beyond our hope.
I have control issues, but I am learning that the resolution of those problems is not to bring things under control. Rather, it is learning to be okay with all of the uncertainty – and letting that be a source of comfort.