I’ve never been known to have sleeping issues for as long as I can remember. I’m the kid who could fall asleep in the car ride to the beach and sleep the entire way there…eat dinner when we got there, and fall right back asleep. I’d sleep for ten hours straight, and was incredibly difficult to get out of bed on the weekends. Since graduate school, I became a morning person. Somehow my internal clock flipped and I would be up earlier and be in bed earlier at night. Maybe it’s the expectation of that deliciousness known as coffee in the mornings that I also discovered in grad school.. Over the last six to eight months, I’ve developed insomnia. At first I thought it was stress-related. I truly couldn’t find a reason to point to why I wasn’t sleeping. Frustration reigned in my life and then it just wore me down. I felt like a zombie by noon every day and then wouldn’t be able to sleep when I’d force myself to bed at ten because I could no longer function. It ebbs and flows…I can go weeks without so much as waking up once in the night, and then go a week straight with maybe three hours of sleep. Tonight (or this morning, however you view it) is one such instance of lack of sleep. It started creeping in again and I should have seen it coming with the waking up at odd hours throughout the night last week. I shot up two nights ago thinking I’d over slept and I’d been asleep for all of two hours. It suddenly occurred to me the one change over the last week that might have sparked this…yes I may be slow to realize some obvious things…my prescription for Omeprazole. It’s my acid reflux medication because I suffer from a pretty severe case of it, I can take it for two weeks at a time and then have to come off of it. It hadn’t occurred to me until I was laying awake at 3am that I’d taken two yesterday. So I checked the side effects listed online, and sure enough, “difficulty sleeping” is number two on the list.
It got me to thinking about side effects in other areas of our life. While most of the time we don’t ever apply that thinking to anything outside of medications we are taking, I think it fits into the Christian life. You see, when you’re walking in your faith, living it out daily you may not notice it. But as Paul writes in Galatians 5, the side effects of your life in Christ are “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” We produce those in our lives as we daily seek the kingdom, giving God the glory in all things and pursuing after Him. We grow in Him, we sharpen one another, we yearn for more of Him…these are all side effects of a life spent in pursuit of giving God every bit of the glory.
There’s always another side to this…for those not seeking Him fully, not pursuing Him daily in their walk there are side effects as well. These may not be acknowledged or revealed as quickly but they are there, mounting, growing, gaining longevity. Paul speaks to this exact thing as well in Galatians chapter five…”the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envies, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like…” I can fully admit that in times when I’ve drawn away from God, I’ve exhibited these side effects of the flesh. I’ve pursued other things and placed them above God in my life (idolatry). I’ve sought my own will rather than His (selfish ambition). I’ve envied what others had, where they were, who they were friends with…(jealousies).
As I examine my own side effects of insomnia or painful acid reflux, I have to deliberately choose which I can live with…which option I can daily choose and know that I will survive it. The same is true for the side effects of a life spent dying daily to self, spent in an intimate relationship with Christ….or one where my self reigns, where I draw away from Him and seek my own. Which side effects would you choose given the choice?