I call it the gift. The gift is my unadulterated skill to fall asleep anywhere, anytime…within minutes. I embrace my talent without any shame. I could be on a plane and before the pilot can announce, “Prepare for take off, ” I am already sound asleep, mouth wide open like a big mouth bass, letting the drool dribble down my chin like a hook is stuck in the back of my throat. This was my gift… until unexpected about a year and half ago, the Grinch appeared and robbed me. And just like a wide-eyed Who from Whoville, I was left with an empty stocking hanging on the fireplace mantel with only the Grinch’s stench left behind. No, I take that back, he filled my stocking with an expected present… insomnia.
Insomnia was a cruel and unexpected horrible plight. No one could explain why this occurred but boy did everyone try. My parents blamed the cause on my first born leaving for Purdue. My friends blamed it on stress of being a single mom for twelve years.( seriously if I can handle getting divorced & having my ex become a paraplegic, I can handle anything!) My doctor blamed it on hormones,the dreaded menopause. My church friends thought maybe I wasn’t praying to God enough, that I lost my faith. Everyone gave me ” wonderful” advice on how to fall asleep: read a book, take a bath, exercise more, take melatonin, sleepy tea but to no avail, I was doomed. For several months, I would have two sleepless nights followed by an hour or so of relief… Finally after several MRIs, blood tests, c-scans, a doctor discovered the culprit, LYME DISEASE!
Lyme disease was my misery. It is a silent disease because it mirrors ALS, Parkinson, MS but it is difficult to correctly diagnose so many who fall victim to this disease are left untreated. I am one of the lucky ones. I know my battle. I will conquer it because just like everything else in my life I don’t just survive, I thrive but the question I had was could I endure this disease living in the wind-whipping brutality of Chicago? Hesitantly, I decided to JUMP and purchase a one-way to LAX but before heading to land of sun-filled skies and sandy beaches, I consulted my pastor and asked the simple question, ” How do I know this is the right move?’ His answer was simple , ” God will use you where you are.” Months later he was proved right.
As I was walking down the cement stairs of the YMCA in Thousand Oaks, CA after a refreshing swim, when I yawned as loud as a lion’s roar. An older lady, wrapped in a pink fuzzy robe turned back and exclaimed, ” Boy I wish I could yawn like that. I haven’t slept in years.” Looking at her swollen, baggy grey eyes, I felt immediate sympathy for the stranger as I replied, ” Oh I am so sorry. That’s brutal. I had insomnia, too. Can I give you a hug?” The stranger replied, ” I am all wet from swimming.”. With a soft smile I replied as I leaned into her, ” I don’t mind.” As I released her I asked, ” Can I pray for you?” Without hesitation she added, “Yes.” I looked at her wavy wet hair trying to take in her beauty of this fragile being and said, ” Great. I’ll pray for you tonight. What’s your name?” She said, “Martha. I don’t want to wait. Can you pray for me now?” ” Here?” I questioned. She reached for my hand and squeezed it, ” Yes, here.” Without delay I gently closed both my hands around hers and out loud called upon Jesus, ” Dear Jesus please give Martha some relief. Allow her body to sleep. She desperately needs it. In Jesus’ name Amen.” We hugged once more and dragged our tired, chlorine-soaked bodies through the star -filled night to find our cars and our way home.
A week later, in the YMCA locker room, I saw a familiar set of grey eyes just a few lockers over. As I shut the metal door and turned my lock counter-clockwise I called over, “Martha, is that you?” With bright-eyes she answered, ” Oh, Lisa. Hi. You won’t believe it. I slept that night you prayed and every night since.” I allowed my lips to part and give way to a knowing grin, ” Wow. That’s awesome. That’s the power of prayer.”
As I put on my swimming cap, it hit me, my pastor was right when he said, ” God will use you, where you are.” God turned my misery to a ministry. ” And we know God works all things for the good of those who love him.” Roman 8:28 I surrendered that all I had to do was have a leap of faith and trust God. With that I leaned forward, took a dive in the pool and unmistakably the water was warm … just like my heart.