In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe. Psalm 4:8, NLT
I wrote my very first blog post in August of 2013. The last paragraph ending with this desire:
My transparency may not only be God’s way of helping me be honest with myself and others, but His way of letting someone else know that they are not alone. It could be His way of letting a weary, frazzled mother who thinks everyone else has it all together, be reminded: “See, my child, she is just like you.”
Our son, Hunter, had been diagnosed at 18 months old with high functioning autism. Prior to this diagnosis he was struggling to walk, struggling to talk, and struggling to function with his day to day emotions. To the outsider he looked “normal.” He rarely broke a rule. Threw a tantrum (against the rules), or did anything considered “atypical.” He saved all of that for home. And he rarely slept. He had a very LONG bedtime routine. And night terrors often woke him.
I started this blog as a way to get my thoughts together. About how I felt alone as a mom. About how I felt like no one believed me when I said he was autistic. Because they expected a “look.” Or because he was “fine for me.” Or because no one just got it, really.
I spent the hours at 3am writing. Instead of laying in bed thinking about things I couldn’t fix.
Hunter has always been a creature of sleep routines. From the time he was brought home he had unique and very intricate sleep patterns and routines. He would not sleep alone. Due to being laid with Mommy shortly after birth, he was a chest napping, and therefore a chest sleeping baby for about the first 3 weeks of life. My husband and I took turns on our couch, just ensuring he slept until his next feeding. And he slept. Soundly. As long as he was nestled heartbeat to heartbeat.
When he moved to his crib. Yep. Not easy. We had to purchase a special bear just so he would stay there. So used to the sound of heartbeats he had to go to sleep with this rhythm.
Until we discovered, he also had to hold onto something. This is where his beloved stuffed “puppy” comes in. He has not for one night, NOT slept without “puppy.” Let’s NOT even speak that into existence at this point. I don’t care if he IS a teen. Let him have that “puppy.”That “puppy” deserves to be bronzed. Well, not like an idol. If you know a “puppy” of this sort…you know what I mean.
Until sleep routines began to consist of back rubs until he fell asleep. That moved to figuring out math problems that left Hunter in fits of anxiety prior to bed. And his back rubs, consisted of whispered prayers that God would just fix this.
Until health scares turned to nights in the big bed to make sure everyone was ok. And more prayers. That He would just take these anxious thoughts away. Give Him peace. Some relief. Comfort. Someone to comfort Him while he was at school.
He still struggles with some anxiety, but I would not dare challenge that boy to a math contest. You are even more doomed if you dare to battle him at history. And He is often now the one who comforts. It took a lot of prayer, and yes…therapy; even a pandemic and extended time at home with no health scares for this to occur. But God works in mysterious ways.
His sleep problems seem to have ceased for now, though he still wakes when thunder booms. Now, mommy in her middle age struggles once again with the 3am wake-up call. This time it’s not because of that still small child. It’s likely my own anxious thoughts. Older age. God. Sometimes I answer, and I’ll still get up and write like I did when I started this journey way back when. But usually, I utter a simple prayer:
Lord, if you want me to get up; if there is something I need to talk out with you at this very moment you will let me know and I’ll get up. But, if this can wait until we have our time in the morning, please gently nudge me back to sleep.
And He tells me. Usually within 5 min I know. Sometimes I remember right away that I forgot to set my 5am alarm. My reminder I need to spend my morning quiet time with him, and I can get right back to sleep. Other times, I find myself still tossing and turning, and grabbing my 3am journal and heading down stairs.
Look, it may seem silly. But for 13 years we have been the keepers of “slumber.” I know He provides rest after a long day, and He promises that “You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly.” (Proverbs 3:24). And He has proven this to be the case so many times in these years.
Have there been nights when sleep has not come? Of course. Some of those nights were filled with trials, and some of those nights were filled with tossing and turning of my own making because I simply didn’t call on God.
Know on those sleepless nights filled with trials, He is there watching your back, too; keeping you safe and gently guiding you to peaceful slumber. You are not alone.
Even at 3am.