My heart was racing just as fast as my mind was running. Sweat poured down my neck and my hands became clammy. My nostrils were clear and burning and though my mouth was numb, I could feel the post nasal drip gently flowing down the back of my throat. I panicked as I realized what I had just done. Relapsed.
I starting running as fast as I could but I wasn’t moving. I was tripping. Time stood still in that moment as my body started to fall in slow motion. My face was heading straight to the pavement and I could see the broken nose and knocked out teeth that awaited me. I braced for impact and just before I hit, I woke up!
I laid in bed, heart still racing and head still spinning. Within seconds the biggest wave of relief rolled over me. My heart filled with gratitude as I realized this was just a dream, a nightmare really, and I hadn’t relapsed, at least not in over twenty years. I crawled out of bed, stumbled to the bathroom and splashed water on my face. As I looked at the flushed and tired reflection starring back at me, I wondered, will those dreams ever disappear?
When I was a little girl I had a strange obsession with things “getting me” at night. I realize a lot of little kids are scared of monsters under the bed so my fear probably wasn’t that uncommon. For some reason though, I was obsessed with the need for my hair to cover my ears. I had to lay on my side, with one ear protected by the pillow and the other exposed ear protected and covered with my hair. I was convinced that whatever monster was coming for me, was going to go after my ears first.
I have no idea where that childhood thought process came from, but I have thought about those monsters under the bed and wondered why, in many ways, they’re still there as an adult.
What are those monsters, really? One would say there is no such thing as monsters. They’re just something we imagine in our head, but they are not real. They don’t actually exist and they are just an illusion.
A prerequisite of an illusion is the absence of reality. A illusion cannot be real and reality cannot be an illusion (even though sometimes we wish that were the case!)
For the sake of this post I’m going to say that monsters are a made up story or an illusion we’ve created in our head.
Monsters = Fear
Under the Bed = In Our Mind
This would mean that thoughts are illusions. A thought is just a thought. It is not a reality. It doesn’t exist in our physical world. This seems like great news and a relief of sorts, depending on what the thought is.
For example, when I become fearful that I won’t be able to get pregnant and bear children, I can rest assure that this is an illusion. It’s not reality and therefore there is no reason to dwell on this thought. I can also let go of worrying about not getting a job that I haven’t even applied for yet. To worry about something that doesn’t exist makes no sense.
Confusion and comfort both sank in as I thought more about this. I questioned myself and asked, “what if everything that is real, first started with a thought?” That’s true, right? How could something come to be, if it wasn’t a thought first?
My state of confusion and comfort turned more confusion and less comfort as I thought more about this. Does this mean that the illusions I feared could make their way into my reality? I mean, I guess for all of reality to first be a thought, that would have to be true regardless of the thought.
As I continued to evaluate this situation, I realized that we are only scared of the monsters under the bed at night, before we go to sleep. When the lights are on and the room is bright, we’re not scared. We can clearly see that there isn’t anything hiding under the bed.
The darkness brings about a level of uncertainty because our vision is impaired. And when we close our eyes, another level of impairment is added as we become more vulnerable to what may be lurking and planning to latch on to us.
Last February the church I attend ran a four-week series through Valentine’s Day called “The 4 Laws of Love.” It was about the biblical principals that support God’s intent for marriage. It was a powerful message that hit home for me on several accounts. I caught myself thinking back to one of the sermons that covered the reason why we shouldn’t go to bed angry.
The Pastor stressed the importance of reconciling any arguments prior to going to sleep. We hear it all the time, “Don’t go to bed angry.” I always thought this saying was to caution us of regret in the case that one of the persons in the dispute didn’t wake up in the morning. Or maybe it was to avoid waking up the next day in the same terrible mood, and carrying that emotion throughout the week.
These scenarios support why going to bed angry is not a good idea. The Pastor was speaking in relationship of husband and wife, but really this is applicable in any relationship or for any circumstance.
During that sermon I learned the biblical reason why we should avoid going to bed angry. It’s because we are more vulnerable in that emotional state. Vulnerable to what you ask? The biggest monster of all. Satan.
Many people place Satan in the same category as those monsters, just an illusion or a made up character. I placed him in that category for the majority of my life. God has always been my Creator, and even when I have been most upset with Him, I still believed in Him. I never believed in the devil. To me the devil was like a unicorn, another mythical creature.
Since that time and within my recent studies, I’ve learned that not only is the devil real, but God has been protecting us from him since the beginning of time. Look at the first two versus in the book of Genesis. It says,
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2 NIV
The devil is always referred to as darkness and God is always referred to as Light. Satan is also referred to as the father of lies and God is called the father of Truth.
Verse 3 and 4 continues,
“And then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.”
To say that the light was good, and He separated it from the darkness, implies that the dark is not good.
The darkness that was over the surface of the deep in verse 2 is the devil. The Spirit of God hovering over the waters, before the world was even created, shows us He was there from the beginning, hovering, protecting.
Unlike the monsters under our bed, the devil is not an illusion. He has existed since before the creation of the world, and is allowed to exist because of free will. He works day in and day out to pull us away and distract us from God’s love for us. He comes for us when we are most vulnerable and most impressionable.
This is how I’ve come to understand the monsters under the bed, and the thoughts that make their way into reality.
The devil represents the thoughts that bring us worry and fear. The ones that wake us up and keep us up in the middle of the night. These thoughts and the emotion of fear, come from Satan.
God represents the thoughts that bring us peace and comfort. He is the One behind the curtain that brings our thoughts of good fortune and success to fruition. All that is good, comes from Him.
The devil is the monster that lurks in the dark, waiting to take advantage of us in our most vulnerable moments. Perhaps even from a young age I realized the need to protect my ears, so that the devil couldn’t whisper to me at night.
I’ve learned that it is possible to turn the thoughts that feed the devil in to an illusion. Remember that the devil is the father of lies, and the seeds he tries to plant in us are just that, lies. Lies, like illusions, are an absence of truth.
We can help combat the devil and the lies he feeds us, especially at night when we find our mind racing, by feeding our own thoughts with the undeniable truth of God and His love for us. God is the Light that shines continuously, even in the darkest of places. All we have to do, is turn Him on.