“When I am worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep. And I fall asleep counting my blessings…” The little interlude in White Christmas when Bing sings this song to Clooney is one of my favorite parts of that movie. It’s a pretty song in that crooner’s voice, and the sentiment is a good one.
If the truth were known, there have been very few nights in my life when left to myself I couldn’t sleep soundly. It just isn’t a problem I have. The problem I have is that for a good portion of my adult life I have had other people who depended on me who could not sleep at night. So I have been woken up – a lot.
I gotta tell you – I really, really love my sleep. And when I get woken up, my go-to response is not to count my blessings. I will refrain from incriminating myself by confessing my first response. My second response is generally some form of repentance for the first one.
Strokeman has had several weeks here lately of needing me repeatedly throughout the night. He has gut pain, and he has a rash that itches and must be oiled and rubbed. And in order to distract himself he wants to watch TV. All.night. He mutes the sound, but that flashing of the screen…argh. So I put my mask on and pray my repentance and try to get a few moments peace between calls for help.
This week seemed to be ending on a better note. After two very traumatic medical appointments, we ended with a shot of cortisone that curbed the itching as it was supposed to and had the added bonus of giving some relief from the gut pain. And then the hiccups started. What is it about steroids and hiccups? But they weren’t bad, and I am so exhausted, I think I could have ignored them.
“Hey!” I thought, “I might actually get to sleep tonight, and (dare I hope?) go to church in the morning!”
About the time I was getting ready to head to the bed, Strokeman started vomiting. And my night became rounds of holding the bucket while keeping the torpefied arm in position so that Strokeman could stay on his side while his stomach heaved. I said my good-byes to sleep, and to church. I looked for ways to soothe and comfort. After all, as much as I felt sorry for myself, I have not lost my mind to such an extent that I couldn’t see who was the real victim in this scenario. Such disappointment he had as he realized how short lived that relief from the gut pain would be! Such humiliation and suffering he experienced as he propped himself up on his good elbow the keep from spewing his supper on himself and the bed.
It’s easy at the moment to whine and complain. Life is hard, and there is no denying it. Lack of sleep does not make me a nice person. But I have not been called to an easy life. I am told in the scripture that in this world I will have tribulation. I am told I should expect to suffer. And I am told to count it all joy. I am told to let my requests be made known to God with thanksgiving.
This is a discipline. I am not the most discipline-inclined person in the world. I am pretty good at making excuses for why I can’t do what is required of me. From a worldly perspective I can give you a long list of reasons why I should not have to be thankful. But as a Christian, the worldly perspective is not worth my attention. Instead, I turn to the perspective of Christ. He suffered by taking on the punishment of the very sins I commit each time I am woken up in the middle of the night. He served those who should have been serving him. He did things way below his rightful position. He gave up his place of authority. And as he anticipated his death for people who were still sinning, he prayed for us. Surely I can start here.
I am thankful that while I was content in my willful sin Christ died for me. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit breathed life into my heart of stone and made it a heart of spiritual life. I am thankful that the Father looks on me through the blood of His Son and accepts me as his own child. I am thankful that each person of the triune God agrees to pour out love upon me in a way that not only secures my soul but also purges it that it may be clean. I am thankful that none of my life here on this earth is meaningless. It is all for the purpose of being conformed to the image of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I am also thankful that at a time when I felt such a yearning for a vacation my sister came to spend a couple of days with me. We didn’t get to go on that cruise we dream about. But somehow just having her here to share the times between calls for help was a respite. I felt rejuvenated when she left.
I am thankful that my daughter is back home after a stay in the hospital last month. I am thankful that we have insurance to cover the stay, and that she is feeling more like herself these days. I am thankful for her amazing strength and the spiritual maturity as she remained calm and cheerful in spite of this huge setback; always eager to give a reason for the hope that she has.
I am thankful for getting to have most of my family here for a Thanksgiving dinner and that they will all be here at the end of this month. I am thankful to be so loved by every one of my children and their spouses. And then there are those grand children! Oh how thankful I am for them.
I am thankful that in spite of the many setbacks and complications of last month I was able to make strides in my attempts to make Young Living a meaningful source of income. Even this month has brought surprises in that area that can only be attributed to the grace of God.
I am thankful for music: singing in the Texas Traditions Chorus, listening to Handel’s Messiah at Bass Hall, iTunes, this post on a favorite Hymn, various youtube videos, etc. etc. etc.
I am thankful the itching stopped before the vomiting began. I am thankful that it was only coming out of one end (pardon me, but man am I thankful for that!). I am thankful for washing machines and essential oils and cleaning products and extra clothes. I am thankful for cortisone shots.
I am thankful for birds singing out my window and unexpected visits from old friends. I am thankful for my African family and my American family and that I actually have such an amazing life that I get to have two extended families. And speaking of families, I am thankful for my church family. What a blessed plan this community of believers thing is!
So, in spite of the fact that I may never get to fall asleep, I can still count my blessings. They are many and abundant. I have only scratched the surface.