Livid. Petulant. Ungracious.
Pretty sure that sums up the person I’ve been for the past couple of months.
I stepped out of Youngstown into the glowing aura of Columbus, Ohio. Columbus was the land of promise for me and Mister. The sprouting tech city with farm roots where all my dashed Youngstown dreams would come true.
And all things considering, I’m in a really good place. I’m truly content with being a mere pup parent. Not that I don’t enjoy kids — but God has introduced me to a truly wonderful state of peace about the unknown future of my family. Will it have kids? Will it only have dogs? I really don’t mind either way.
And I have a fantastic job. No, really, it’s fantastic. I don’t know the exact spiritual state of my company’s CEO and my direct manager, but she made it very clear from the beginning that God and family take priority over work. She is excited and confident in my abilities, in the abilities of all of her employees, and encourages us to learn and grow in our talents.
And the church body we’ve been attending. Oh my. What a refreshment. No one telling us that we should be adopting. No one telling me I should quit my job if I make more than my husband. No one assuming we want to babysit their children more than anyone in the world.
But there was one bump. One nasty little bump that threw all the wonderful lessons I learned out the window and left me with whiplash and road rage.
My upstairs neighbors are relatively quiet. They say they’re believers. They don’t host late parties, they don’t fight, they don’t play music rave-style.
But they walk on their heels.
At 12 a.m. … 1:30 a.m. … 3:30 a.m.
And I like to think I’m a reasonable person, but when a human doesn’t get much sleep, sanity is the first to go.
I ventured to talk to them in person. They seemed really friendly about it, and genuinely concerned about my lack of sleep due to their nightly walks.
Wonderful, I thought. That was easy.
Well, readers, three more encounters, a filed noise complaint, and a perhaps-understandable tantrum from our neighbors later, it’s not wonderful, and it’s not easy.
I was a ball of pure hatred. Not even at my neighbors. Sure, I was royally pissed at them, because, after all, it’s their heels that had robbed me of anything more than 3 hours of restless sleep every night.
But no, I hated God.
Surprisingly, I felt more angry about not being able to sleep than I ever did about possibly not being able to have children. It’s like I understood that not every human was meant to have children.
But sleep? Humans were built to need sleep.
Why was God robbing me of something so primitive, so necessary? I complained endlessly to my husband, my mom, my granny — why would God do this to me? How can he expect me to work well, to wife well, to friend well with no sleep? How is this supposed to teach me anything?
He felt distant, perhaps because I pushed him away. I cursed him, like Job’s wife.
Per usual, thanks to His mercy, the Spirit didn’t let me get away with denouncing my God so flippantly. He smote my wicked little heart before I could truly be lost in my angry sin, whispering sternly into my rage, you will not demand from the King.
He moved Mister to suggest Job as our reading material (hello, conviction). He crafted sermons from the pastor’s mind and our current text in Matthew, one on angry thoughts and the murder within, and one on Jesus praying for Peter, who was being sifted like wheat by the devil.
He pricked me to pray for my neighbors. Not just a snarky convict them of their sin so I can sleep, but real prayer for their daily battles against sin, their marriage, their individual work, and their own ability to sleep. Albeit prayers initially begrudgingly uttered, but eventually truly flowing from the heart.
He has shown me I am in a battle. That the valuable lessons learned from my Youngstown escapades aren’t meant to be displayed in trophy cases on the mantle of my heart, but rather repeated daily to myself in an effort to continually mortify the sin that lurks so readily on my heart’s doorstep. He needed to remind me that I am reliant entirely on Him and His mercy, and that any preconceived notion that I am a survivor who can handle anything is mere fantasy. Docking a few hours of sleep from my nightly expectations could turn me into a pure monster — who am I to think that I am untouchable?
I have been sifted. I am still being sifted. I will be sifted until I die.
But because Jesus prays for me, I will be greeted at the gates by well done, good and faithful servant.