I would have told you I did. Sure, I know I need to work on getting to bed earlier, but I’ve also been deliberate about if I go to bed later (i.e.: early AM), then I let myself sleep later the next morning. If I can’t “sleep in”, then I make myself stop & go to bed. Over the years I have learned, my optimum amount of sleep is: 10 hrs; My goal: 8 hrs; My too-often norm: 6 hrs. However, sleep is not my problem, I can pretty much stop, curl up any time and go to sleep – day or night, loud or noisy, in a boat, plane, car, doesn’t really matter where. My issue has been I wake up from sleep NOT rested, but exhausted, bone weary tired, exhausted. Sometimes I knew I was tired because of nightmares, other times I would say I “slept fine”, rested, but I’d still wake up exhausted.
A typical morning, whether I’ve had 6 hrs or 10 hrs of sleep…the alarm goes off and I struggle to wake up enough to figure out how to shut it off (I have to get out of bed and go across the room), this is repeated 3 times (yes, I go back crawl into bed and totally fall asleep again for another 15 min). Once I realize what I’m doing and do get up for the final time, I have to be up for 3 hours before my brain is remotely functioning (believe it or not – this is NOT caffeine dependent. This is just me. I’m slow.). This is not real helpful, and it is particularly draining when I have day after day of non-stop activities. [Hello, single parent to two teenagers here – it’s not going to get better!]
Finding Spiritual Whitespace sounds elusive without a whole bunch of time spent following specific required steps. In her book Finding Spiritual Whitespace, Bonnie does NOT give a list to follow. Instead she invites you into her vulnerable space, as she walks you through the steps and discoveries she made and how she found Whitespace in the broken pieces.
Fairly early in the book Bonnie extends grace by stating,
Enjoying time with God and finding soul rest isn’t a matter of self-discipline, of trying harder or setting your clock to wake up fifteen minutes earlier. (page 30)
I read this to mean I can’t mess this up. A few pages later she presents the question,
If you were to stop fighting to stay strong – to stop rowing upstream – and allowed God to take your heart downstream, where would it lead? (page 41)
As I processed this, I realized the idea was really appealing. and simple, just rest.
REST: such a small word, but so counter-intuitive in our culture today, and so very difficult to attain. Yet, so incredibly invaluable and greatly missed. While I read Bonnie’s memories and how she worked through them, I found myself turning to Jesus more. Realizing there are areas of my past I hadn’t let go of – in order to cope and keep going, which meant I was still hanging on to the hurt.
I knew I was tired of fighting to stay strong. Tired of rowing upstream. but was stuck on how to change the river I was traveling.
While Bonnie experienced insomnia, my experience has been exhaustion. I sleep, but don’t feel rested. The idea of allowing my heart to rest and flow downstream and God would still protect it… WOW, I want that! By her suggestion, I realized I could envision Jesus with me in those awful moments when my “fight or flight” kicked in and I thought I needed to do more to stick it out. I’m on a journey of learning how to rest in Jesus.
God is making something beautiful out of [me]. Out of all my broken pieces, He is creating. He isn’t upset with me. <- I am actually beginning to believe this.
As God promised (Jer. 29:11-13), He had a perfect plan. His timing allowed me to be part of Bonnie’s journey of launching her book (I probably wouldn’t have made myself start reading yet otherwise, there was LOTS of opposition to me even getting started).
He perfected aligning:
- a long-weekend get away;
- Had me start a new Bible Study on relationships (Beth Moore’s Children of the Mark);
- I had my ticket to fly out to spend time with a dear friend I haven’t seen in 12.5 years;
- – which involved revisiting major emotional, heart ache and pain (from 17-19 years ago);
- – which also involved reliving awful memories, (some were near exact replicas of memories from 17 years ago, unplanned by my friend & I of course);
- In March it was setup, I had the opportunity to go to Young Life Camp as an adult guest;
- – which included getting to know, and meet, new friends (without too much hyperventilating, even though my heart, mind, & soul were particularly raw at this point);
- – seeing His extravagant love all around me (in relationships, God stories, land, property, buildings, decor);
- – seeing Him love teens extravagantly, without expectation & unconditionally (through people!);
- – the opportunity to conquer extreme fears of heights, ropes, harnesses, being looked at, a way-too high swing, walking through sage brush (where snakes, in particular Rattlesnakes, might have been). With these activities I actually learned, it’s not other people or God I don’t trust, it’s me.;
- Then He followed it all up with a quiet week at home to catch up on sleep and lots of slow time to process.
The above list has all happened in the last 4 weeks, since the book came in the mail. When the book came all of our family was here (14) for dinner. Then I had 12 hours (10pm-10am) to get ready for a sudden trip to the cabin with my dad. I was so excited for a quiet retreat, I thought I’d start reading there, but found I was too scared. I kept cleaning the cabin, the bunk house, even the outhouse! – all to avoid reading. After three days I got to page 33 before I had to go help with getting a halibut into the freezer.
He knew in advance the book would be difficult for me.
He knew in advance all the emotions that would come into play in the month of June – without dredging up the 15+ year old memories too.
He knew I was too tired to continue on the same path I’ve been on.
He knew I’d try to cope, stuff, and in turn force my brain/heart into a state of numbness to get through.
But more importantly, He knew it was time for me to change.
He knew I would be scared to read the book. Scared of what would come up. Scared of reliving memories.
Yet Bonnie’s words,
It’s not easy following Jesus into the whitespaces of the soul. I have wallpapered over many things, believing faith enabled me to move past them. But there comes a time when it takes more faith to fall apart with Jesus than to stay strong enough to stop it from happening. (page 32)
reminded me – He sent His Son to take on all that pain already. I don’t have to have it all figured out. It took me almost two weeks to get from page 33 to 77, if page 41 hadn’t been there I’m not sure I could have made it. I made a deliberate, mental choice to let go of the paddles.
I let it all go; after all, He promised to protect my heart.
In the end, the reading, praying, re-reading, praying, journaling, and praying some more provided the push for me to envision Jesus by my side, giving me the courage to face the memories. Face them fully. Memories I knew were coming based on the plans in place. I wanted to embrace the time, but I was afraid of the pain. I am happy to say – I am now on the other side of the “new” memories. Memories with Jesus by my side – not God disappointed with me.
The path of healing is a beautiful one and I am almost anticipating (not apprehensive of) what is around the corner. Old dreams have been dusted off, new dreams are taking shape, and I’m learning to imagine again.
I feel different. in my heart. in my mind. in my soul.
*I did receive a copy of Finding Spritual Whitespace to review for free. However, all I have written is my own opinion and experience in reading this book.*