Insomnia: a sleep disorder characterised by difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Can result in irritability, fatigue, memory and concentration problems, and other physical factors.
Like eyes that feel like overcooked marshmallows on a stick. A heart trembling on the edge; sore, clenched jaw; a face that can't remember how to crack a grin.
If I had to choose between a million dollars and eight straight hours of sleep, I’d probably choose the sleep. I’m not kidding.
On a good night, if I take the one and only sleeping pill that is prescribed in Kyrgyzstan, I will get four hours. On a bad night, I will nap for a couple of minutes.
I have experienced every possible emotion over the last seven months. I have laughed at the ridiculousness of it. I have been stoic. I have been very self-pitying. I have been despairing and hopeless. And lately, my prevailing emotion has been anger. I have been really angry at God. Countless prayers; the prayers of older believers than myself. No mountain moved.
A few nights ago, after lying in bed for six hours, I broke down in tears. I wept. I yelled at God. I swore. It was like a movie scene - and not where a pretty French actress with a cute haircut lets a few picturesque tears roll down her cheek; it was really ugly, like in a war or a funeral. Through my tears I argued with God. I said - I yelled - why God? and - please God! And God, I don’t understand. Did you bring me to Kyrgyzstan to live a half-life of exhaustion and be a completely ineffective person to the people around me? I could do that just as well in Australia, you know, with the added bonus of my family to look after me and friends to support me and lots of doctors to prescribe me pills for free. I came here to be part of peoples’ lives. I can’t even do that now.
The neighbours probably thought I was bonkers, or getting beaten up. I didn't mind, because they're more bonkers than me.
And for some reason, through my tears and my ranting, I started to think about a documentary I watched recently. It was about the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Basically, a thousand experimental physicists from all over the world got together to build a 17-mile machine in order to test whether a certain particle, called the Higgs Boson, actually exists. Theoretical physicists for a couple of decades have been speculating about the existence of an undetectable particle that holds everything together. Sometimes this is referred to as the God Particle because, depending on how much it weighs, it will suggest that all matter, everything that exists, is either really ordered and predictable, or really disordered and chaotic. Pointing perhaps to a creative force. Anyway, what they’re going to do is get these two beams of light speeding quicker than ever before, and then the beams of light will crash, and that will create data which will point to or away from the Higgs Boson. It’s science on a bigger scale than anything: science bigger than landing on the moon or discovering electricity. It doesn’t prove or disprove the existence of God, but if you do believe in God there are ways of seeing beauty and meaning in the results.
Anyway, in this documentary they were talking about the sheer enormity of existing matter. I mean, in our galaxy alone, there are suns a thousand times bigger than our sun, and whole gas clouds that are a thousand times bigger again. They showed one collection of gases and said it would take 6 billion years for an object to fall from one end to the other. That’s in our galaxy. Our galaxy is one of billions of galaxies, and it is a mere dot in the vastness of everything that exists. I mean, as they were talking about it, my head was exploding. How do you contain the unending, unfinishing, colossal nature of all existing matter? How do you even start to find the right adjectives to begin talking about it?
So there, my head exploded. And now it’s 4 AM and there I am crying and pleading with God because I feel like my body is going to start breaking down and floating around. A brain trapped in a body that can never rest. I am trapped and helpless and the future of my life looks very grim, if this is what it will be like.
And suddenly, I am thinking about the immensity of space and all existing matter and the Higgs Boson particle and I realise this: God is in it, everywhere; if I can’t find adjectives for existing matter, how can I find adjectives for the bigness of God who made it and holds it all together? And even more, how can I imagine all that vastness; those billions of years and burning lights and incomprehensible largeness and endlessness, compressed into a tiny, vulnerable, human baby on our little invisible blip of a planet ? How can I understand why the creator would do that? It has to be love. It has to be love. And what kind of love must God have for a silly idiot like me to do that?
And if a God like that will do such a thing for me - die - he’s not going to stop loving me, or disappear, or give up.
That means he loves me right here, right now, and he absolutely wants the best for me. The best for me, believe it or not, is not physical health or nice books or delicious food or a strong husband. These things are added extras, bonus parts. The best for me is trusting God for all my needs, like a two-year-old. He knows that, so everything he does is designed to help me love him and trust him and glorify him.
So this is what I have understood in my bones, after that night: God is really good. He’s really, really good. He wants me to trust him because there’s nothing else in life that will make me happy. Like a good parent wants the best for a child - he has taken away everything that makes it possible to trust in anything but his presence. He's the sweetest thing.