SG...I can't help my son get a good night's rest?
"I want to scream, my hands they shake, yet in your arms you keep me safe. Always were, always will be." Tenielle Neda, "Always Were"
From time to time, my youngest has had night terrors during his sleep. When my son’s yells overpower the TV volume, we know something isn’t right. I rush to his room, and he stands on his bed, looking right past me, pointing and yelling at something or someone. “Stop, stop, no,” he would yell, his bottom lip trembling. Throughout this entire time he is still asleep, but his eyes are wide open.
As I approach him I call out, “I’m here. Appa (Dad in Korean) is here.” None of my words stop him from clutching his blanket with all his might.
Careful not to wake him, I guide him to his bed and lay beside him praying. Stroking his arm and stomach, I sing to him “God is so good,” until he yawns and falls back to sleep. This could last one minute or ten minutes on any given night. Not all of his episodes are horror movie scenes though. Once he did sing, “who let the dogs out” Baha Men style. I had to laugh.
When I was little, I remember having my own episodes at night. I had issues with my vision and a kind of sudden dizziness and vertigo. As a young kid I didn’t know how to handle my topsy turvy experience as the room would spin and throb around me, so I’d panic. Always calm and reassuring, my dad would come and hold me in his arms and sing me to sleep. With him, I never felt alone.
Though I’m married, have great kids, immediate family around, and my church community, I have often felt alone these last few years since my dad died. Surrounded by loved ones but still isolated with my own thoughts of doubt and uncertainty, no one quite feels as safe as my dad. My dad was like a rock and always had some comforting word to say like when I was a kid seized with fear in the dark night.
I haven’t felt safe in quite a while. Afraid that my thoughts and worry may over power me or afraid of a little nausea in my stomach, I go to God, but I don’t feel that safety. It’s one thing to know God loves you and another to feel it. Through the years many have told me to avoid emotional highs; I probably have told too many that myself.
Anymore, I might tell a person to take what you can get from God—know, feel, everything in-between—as long as it comes from God I’ll take it. It all starts with belief and faith. I have to believe it.
In a difficult spell of anxiety and even depression, I went to the Lord in prayer with my fear and frustration and was reminded of my son’s night terrors. My wife told me she never really had sleep issues growing up, but he might get it from me. That could mean I was having night terrors too on top of my vision issues and just didn’t remember. I can’t ask my dad, and my mom’s dementia isn’t going to help the cause, but as I pray I am reminded of who would know what happened to me in the past:
Jesus would know because he was there too.
All those years I associated my dad being with me through the hardest times, but I know I have to believe that God was holding all of us together like it says in Psalm 91:4:
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
Even now in my weakest moments, is he holding me? When my son has a hard time sleeping, I pray my son will remember me like I remember my dad. But more he will come to believe in his heart that God was with both of us holding us together. We are not alone though we may forget in the moment. My son isn’t alone and I am not alone when Jesus is with us.
When have you felt so alone? Can you believe that God was there with you? What keeps you from believing that?
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