Suddenly jerking awake, her body was rigid with fear. A cold sweat accompanied the familiar queasiness in the pit of her stomach. Cindy quickly sat up and reached for the lamp. Next to the welcoming light she took deep breaths, noticing the maddening thumping in her chest. Once again she couldn’t quite remember the terrifying images of the nightmare. However, she always awoke horrified, trembling, even physically ill. Preventing a full night’s rest, these episodes had left her exhausted. She dreaded falling asleep, fearing the terror that may lay ahead. Pacing the floor in an attempt to shake the cloak of darkness that seemed to drape around her, she finally switched on the television. Sitting on the edge of the bed, the familiar drone of the news channel became strangely comforting.
Staring blankly at the images, she searched for the answer to why she suddenly started having bad dreams, never having experienced them before. Nothing traumatic had recently taken place. No major changes had interrupted her somewhat normal life. Divorced for five years, she was the single mother of seven year-old Mandy. She led what many would consider a typical single parent existence of juggling a full-time job and parenting. There wasn’t much time for a social life. Nevertheless, she enjoyed the nature of her job and the pleasures of parenthood. Time had somewhat anesthetized the bitterness of her divorce. Four years ago she started attending a Christian church that a friend had taken her to visit. Soon after she became a believer. Faith in Christ introduced her to a whole new way of life, finding true freedom in God’s love and forgiveness.
Sighing deeply, Cindy started channel surfing with the remote. Images flashing before her, she searched for something to distract her mind from her dilemma. She finally stopped at a late-night movie. She was struggling to concentrate on the story line when she noticed two eyes peering at her from around the corner of the door. Mandy giggled when she realized she had been discovered. Rushing to Cindy’s side, Mandy snuggled up. Cindy wrapped her arms around the little girl, kissing the top of her head.
“ Mommy, why aren’t you sleeping?”
“ I had a bad dream.”
“You have lots of bad dreams. How come?”
“I don’t know, honey,” Cindy smoothed Mandy’s silky auburn hair.
“Do you remember when I had bad dreams, Mommy? You said I should ask Jesus to help me sleep and have good dreams,”
Cindy remember those days when Mandy was having difficulty sleeping. Every night had become a battle against Mandy’s seemingly irrational fears.
Cindy’s eyes veered back to the television to see what was taking place on the movie. There was a woman walking around in a dark house, shakily holding on to a knife. It looked like it might be an interesting story...
“Mommy, you told me I should say my Bible verses to myself when I felt scared.”
Cindy glanced back at Mandy, remembering sitting on the bed next to Mandy with her Sunday School papers, helping her to memorize the Bible verse of the week. It did seem to help Mandy fall asleep.
Looking back at the t.v., Cindy noticed the woman sneaking around, with the shadow of a man lurking behind...
“It helped me, Mommy. When I felt scared, I would say the verse. I talked to Jesus, and I wouldn’t feel like I was all alone.”
Alone. The word pierced through the fog of Cindy’s mind. She felt so alone in the darkness of her terror, so deep in an isolated dimension of fear that no one on the outside could possibly understand. Cindy looked into Mandy’s sincere brown eyes. She reached again for the remote, hitting the “off” button.
“You know what else? You used to read the Bible and said to think about God when we are afraid. And I quit having those bad dreams. Remember?”
Mandy stood up and lifted Cindy’s Bible from the night stand. She smiled at her mother as she handed it to her.
“Let’s read, Mommy.”
Moving to the middle of the bed, Cindy sat with the Bible on her lap, Mandy joining her.
“I know the perfect place to start,” Opening the book, Cindy thumbed through the pages until she came to the place, and started to read aloud.
“...whatever things are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, if there is any virtue, anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things...”
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