To Sleep, Perchance to Die
I guess I was somewhat lucky this all took place during a summer. I was only 18, fresh out of high school, but instead of enjoying the sun, calling on friends, and doing other teenage things, I hid in my room, rummaging the internet for answers, any answer at all. But those sessions usually ended in frustration and one time in my crying like a child. That time I had seen a painting of Jesus welcoming someone to Heaven with a tender embrace. And I wept for Jesus, I remember, like one cries for a friend they’ll never see again. Because if there were no God the Father, there could be no God the Son. It was a bitter weeping, and I could taste my own tears as they rushed down my face while I sobbed. I wanted to hug Jesus so badly, like a long lost friend. And I wept till I had no more strength but to lie in bed and sleep.
In those days, I slept a lot. Because sleep took no strength. At the time it didn’t restore any either, but at least I had an escape from the outside world that stabbed at me with every thought I had. So for hours upon hours I would be knocked out and just dream. At first I dreamed mostly harmless nonsense, but slowly the demonic nonsense I feared while awake began to leak in. My nightmares filled with thoughts more eldritch than those I had while awake. Soon I came to fear sleep as much as I did wakefulness. And my final way out—no, I couldn’t consider that yet. I was too scared of that as well.
Sleep is still my coping mechanism whenever things go wrong. You see, I’d much rather shut my eyes to challenges and fights, even lose consciousness of the whole world. The side effect, of course, is that I might miss out on whatever good things might happen. But 19 years ago, I felt there were no good things left to experience. Nothing good existed anymore to me. Other than sleep, of course, and perhaps the occasional innocuous dream. And who knew, maybe I’d get lucky and die in my sleep.
“But you, lazybones, how long will you sleep?
When will you wake up?
A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—
then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit;
scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.”
(Proverbs 6:9-11 NLT)
I say now I didn’t realize how vulnerable I’d become by sleeping so much on the battlefield. Because not only do poverty and scarcity attack, but so does every single satanic force who’d hack at me with their axes. And my only defense? Blankets. And decades later as I now think more about it, maybe I did have an inkling of an idea that those hordes were attacking me through my dreams. And that maybe one would get a lucky final blow one night.
Wake Up and Find Job!
I don’t remember how or why, but I finally turned to the Word of God. And not like I had before via snippets online in apologetics articles or devotionals. This time I determined I’d read a whole book. Because if I couldn’t hear God, maybe I could read what He had already said. And I wanted to know what he had to say about mental agony, unjust suffering, and losing my entire world to my worst enemy, doubt.
Now that’s not a typo in the heading. I went to the book of Job, a man who I had some idea went through suffering and loss, none of which he deserved. And I felt I deserved none of the crap and hellfire that I felt engulfing me. This may be hard for you to understand, but I was convinced I had lost everything that mattered, since not one thing about reality made sense anymore. Not one thing. It didn’t even make sense to live anymore. But I imagine I had some speck of will to live, since I grabbed my thick ol’ Bible and turned to find Job.
I just couldn’t bring myself to give up just yet. There had to be an answer out there, somewhere. Somehow.