Hope Even in the Struggle - Night-Time Compulsions

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Night falls. 

A shadow is cast over my heart.

I am drawn. Relentlessly pulled.   

A living tractor beam wraps mechanical tentacles around my heart, extracting me from the safety and shelter I have known all day, resting under the shadow of His wings.

Like an automaton controlled by an unseen master, I rise from my chair, without voice, without volition. Time stops. Some hours later, I fall into bed…

I come to, a heaviness of guilt and shame claiming me. Clearing the cobwebs of disappointment, the onset of a new day is tainted by the sense of failure. His mercies are new every morning, but how can I escape what I have proven to be true…again? 

…I failed.

If you see yourself in these words at all, I want to say earnestly and with great joy:

THERE IS HOPE!

Years ago, upon hearing the announcement of my then-husband of 31 years that he wanted a divorce, I ran for all I was worth to escape the pain of rejection and abandonment. It was a fruitless endeavor. Jesus called me to turn back, to face IN to the challenge, lean on Him and go through it.

Amazingly, it was when I stopped running and faced the heartache head on, that healing could begin.

Prior to that, however, I was like many who have experienced heartache. We numb ourselves with compulsive behaviors that surface primarily in the evening. We may not be tempted at all during during daylight hours, but, when night falls, resolve falls as well…Resolve to live in the freedom Jesus has purchased for us, for me, for you…We fall prey to the enemy and his lies.

As we begin to recognize lies we have believed, we start replacing the lies with what God says is true. It is then that hope is birthed.

What we may not acknowledge is at the heart of many night-time compulsive behaviors, is a deep longing to be soothed or comforted, often due to a wounding we received during evening hours at some point(s) in our history.

Do you know what I mean? Do you have a night-time wound? If so, it is possible that a prayerful review can reveal situations that we faced as a child, teen, college student, adult, or, even, retiree that have hurt us deeply and haunt us in the evening hours. Sometimes, numerous wounds surface and, often, they were experienced most deeply in the evening hours or even after we have tried to sleep unsuccessfully.  Not only that, but often one wound is compounded by another similar feeling wound.

Does the thought of even considering night-time wounds of your past cause you to throw up a defensive wall?  The last thing many of us ever want to do is “go there” intentionally. 

But the Lord, in His love, bids us to come and take His hand as He walks with us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. This is a valley—certainly. But it isn’t the Valley of Death. It is only the Valley of the Shadow of Death. In order for a shadow to be cast, a light source must be present. Obscured, but present.

What we use to escape or numb ourselves to our pain or disappointment may not be a problem. (NOTE: pornography is the exception as it is always out of God’s will). But we want to evaluate this temptation to try to escape FROM anything. What if we were, instead, to break away TO recreational pursuits and relaxation? Escape TO soothing and comforting of our God who calls Himself the Father of ALL compassion and the God of comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4)?

The Lord doesn’t take issue with our desire to relax, recreate, be comforted or to relax, certainly. But His intention is that we run TO Him and use HIS good gifts for us in an appropriate way, not as an escape FROM things we are not willing to face with Him.

Are we stuck, then, in our compulsions? Or does God have a way for us to break the “tractor beam” that seems to have a hold on us?

I believe if I can live free, anybody can. In the days ahead, I will share some of the tools I have used to reject the dense fog that used to flavor my evening hours.

As I do, I hope you might consider giving them a try. You might see what I mean and live free from your compulsive behaviors, too!

For Further Reflection

 ·      What memories do you have as you consider evening hours throughout the course of your lifetime?

·      Is there a behavior that you engage in that seems to own you? If so, consider journaling a description.

·      Prayerfully evaluate if the two previous answers are connected in some way.

·      Look up four of the following verses in your Bible and consider what is true about what is possible in your life if God’s Word is applicable to you (and it is!):

Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 4:8; 1 Peter 5:10; Isaiah 40:31; Jeremiah 29:11;  Colossians 1:27; Philippians 1:6; Romans 5:5; Romans 15:13; Colossians 3:1-2;  Isaiah 43:1-2; 2 Corinthians 4:17-18; 1 Peter 1:3-6

 ~ Heidi