3 A.M.

When I was little, I saw something or heard something that lead me to believe that 3 AM was “the hour of death”.  I don’t remember if someone mentioned it in a conversation I overheard, or if it was talked about in the movie “Psycho” (which I saw parts of when I was way too young), but somehow that statement became a frightening truth of my overactive imagination.  We’re talking from age 6 or so on.  Seriously!  Because of that “truth” I wouldn’t dare speak of but kept hidden just below the surface of every evening, I didn’t sleep well.  Not solidly, and surely not peacefully.  I couldn’t have told you what exactly was supposed to happen in the “hour of death”, but I knew it couldn’t be anything good.

I can remember in my elementary school days asking to sleep in the spare bedroom.  There was a double bed in there, and room enough for my 4 foot tall Winnie the Pooh to sleep with me.  My parents thought that was all cute and stuff.  The reality was, at that young age, I recognized my fear and was somehow able to treat the symptoms of my poor sleeping by sharing the bed with my “protective” giant stuffed animal.  In this spare bedroom, we had little turtle figurines made out of painted stones or something, each modeled to reflect an activity.  Like there was “Golfer Turtle”, who had a little golf club and little golf beenie hat and a little golf ball.  There was also “Baseball Turtle”, who has a little bat, and baseball, and baseball hat.  There were probably 5 or 6 different ones in all.  They were all positioned as if they were freeze-framed in action.  “Golfer Turtle” was mid-swing.  “Baseball Turtle” was twisted at the waist, having just hit a home run, I’m sure.  After the house was quiet, and Winnie the Pooh and I were all tucked under the covers, those turtles came alive, of this I am certain!  Okay, so maybe that WAS my over active imagination, but it didn’t change the fact that I just knew odd things happened around the 3 am hour.

When I was younger I also had heard that there are good and bad in everyone, and in everything.  This is probably thanks to some fire and brimstone preaching I half heard when I was stretched out across the 8th row pew, coloring, while Preacher Baumgardner was shouting it from the pulpit.  I don’t know what else he said, but I held onto that whole “good and bad” thing.  When I’d get in my bed at night, I imagined that there was a good and bad side to my mattress.  Of course, the side I was sleeping on was the good side.  That wasn’t enough, though.  I didn’t want any part of that bad side, so I woud roll over onto my side and scootch all the way to the edge of the mattress, careful not to let my toes or any other body part reach out over the protective boundary of the mattress edge.  I didn’t want my body parts to be burned off if my mattress was accidentally launched into space.  But that’s a whole other story.  Ha!  To this day, not because I believe in that whole good-bad side of the bed thing, I sleep on the very edge of the matress.  I do let my toes venture off the edge now, though.  I never told my husband he sleeps on the bad side.   I wonder if he knows?  🙂

As I aged into a tennager, my evenings rotated between my twin bed bedroom and my double bed spare bedroom.  My 3 am fear never lessened.  I can recall being a senior in high school and still waking up in the middle of the night (what was actually early early morning).  I could see my mother’s bedroom from the spare bedroom, so I tended to sleep in there more often, even though I gave up the protection of Winnie the Pooh by this point.  The stupid recreational turtles still lived in there, but I just learned to let them have their fun and paid them no attention.  It never failed, though.  Close to 3 am, my eyes would pop open – my body stilly positioned on the edge of the mattress – cacooned in my bedcovers all the way over my ears, with only the bridge of my nose and eyes exposed.  I would begin to psych myself up…getting ready for the mad, serious dash across the hallway where I could dive to safety beside my momma in her bed.

After I married, I began to finally get some good sleep.  As long as my husband was in the bed beside me, I felt safe.  I still slept on the edge of the bed and I tended to sleep with the covers cacooned around me more often than not, but I found myself sleeping more solidly…before 3am and after 3am.  I noticed that I was waking 3-4 times a week at exactly the 3 am hour.  Most of the times I wouldn’t move.  I’d stay, paralized, beneath my covers.  Eventually my angst would exhaust me and I’d drift off.  Whenever my husband wasn’t home, however, that was a different story.  I would clean the house, and clean the house, and start art projects, and clean the house some more,  way into the night, long after the kids were asleep.  I would exhaust myself so that by 4 or 5 am, I could get some rest.  It had to be after the 3 am hour, though.

By 2006, I began pacing myself routinely and consistently in scripture, as I desired to walk more closely with my Savior.  As my relationship with Christ grew, so did my understanding of what it means to be saved and covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.  I accepted the Lord in the early 90’s and in a public profession of my faith, I was Baptised by emersion at my church.  It took me several years beyond that moment, however, to begin to really understand the depth and grandure of what it meant to be a child of God.  So by 2006, I was so hungrily studying God’s word and felt drawn especially to the scriptures that speak of protection from evil.  You know – the bad I had heard about when I was a little girl.  One night, with my husband snoring contentedly beside me, at the 3 am hour, my eyes popped open.  I didn’t move.  I hardlly breathed.  The air around the little bit of face I had exposed was so thick, and suffocating.  And pitch dark.  I felt as if the heaviness was a live presence.  A being.  I had these feelings often when I found myself awake and waiting for my worry-induced exhaustion to lead me to the safety of sleep.  This one particular night, though, I felt bold and  I felt confident.  Not bold and confident enough to lower the covers from my face, but enough to speak out loud, “In the name of My Father, Jesus Christ, I rebuke you.  You cannot have what is not yours.  I belong to Him.”  And just like that, the air was light and it felt as if something had exited my presence.  And I slept.

Since then, I have slept like a baby!  On rare occasions when I have been woken in the middle of the night, I simply roll back over and finish my restfuls slumber.  Did you hear that?  ROLL BACK OVER!  That’s right!  Since that night, I’m not held prisoner on the edge of my mattress.  I no longer cacoon.  Man, is there freedom in kicking the covers off, or sleeping with one leg out of the covers!  Who knew!?  Matters not if my husband is home or away in the evenings, my sleep is not affected.

I’ve wondered often if there are other people out there who have struggled with being unable to really rest due to some fear they privately hold onto.

What I do know now is that God took the fear of a six-year old that was some 30 years old, and got rid of it.  He can do that with all of our fears, our struggles, or worries, if we are willing to just give it to Him.  Totally hand it over to Him.  In an instant, He can heal.

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