I was afraid, and I didn’t know it …

8 years of chronic insomnia – going days, sometimes weeks without sleeping – leading to depression knocking at my door every day. I knew that it would destroy me, so it was a daily battle to resist it and try to stay positive. I had to stay strong for my husband and my children. I couldn’t let them see me falling apart. I didn’t want my children to copy that in their own lives. All the while I was searching for answers. Why couldn’t I sleep? In prior years I was always a great sleeper. What was causing this inability to sleep? I was Mrs Healthy! I even wrote a book on health!

My 3 children were all bad sleepers in their young years. Prior to the 8 years of insomnia, I had about 8 years of sleep deprivation, being constantly woken up by one or two of them at a time. I had previously put the insomnia down to burnout caused by the constant waking up to attend to them. But those years were now over for some time. Surely I should be able to get back to a normal sleeping pattern.

In all my searching for answers I regularly thought back to an unrelated incident that happened in the first year of my marriage (before I had my children). I knew about not entertaining negative thoughts, so I kept cutting them off. It was not a traumatic event, but I remembered the way it made me feel.

What was this “incident”? In fact, it was an uneventful event! Nothing traumatic or extreme at all. I was sleeping. My husband walked into the room to come to bed. He switched on the light, waking me up. Now, he had done this a few times before and I had had enough. Who switches on the light when you know someone is sleeping in the room? I said (annoyed), “Switch off the light!” Instead of apologising, he got really angry with me. I can’t remember what he said. All I can remember is that I rolled over and thought to myself, “Dear God, is this what I have to live with for the rest of my life?” And I never spoke about it to him for many years. Shortly after that night, he stopped doing it.

Every time I’d have those thoughts, I would say, “No! I forgive him. He’s not like that anymore!” Then one day, as I was once again thinking about this incident, I heard the Lord say to me in a very soft voice, “That’s the day the fear entered.” What? Did I hear right? Yes, it was the Lord. Suddenly I realised that it was He who was reminding me of that day, not the devil. He was the one taking me back there so He could show me the answer. But I was so quick to cut off the thought that I couldn’t hear Him. I hadn’t given Him a chance to help me!

Today I know that fear entering us is less connected to what happened and more connected to our response.

Now, I want to clarify something. My husband is not an evil guy; not a bad guy at all. He just didn’t see anything wrong with it. That was his normal. Maybe it’s related to the way he was raised. I don’t know. It was so uneventful to him, that he doesn’t even remember it to this day!

Then my journey of restoration began. You see, the unforgiveness caused the fear to enter. The fear caused the burnout, which caused the insomnia. And the insomnia was beginning to cause many health issues in my body, even the early signs of MS (multiple sclerosis – a condition caused by the wearing out of the myelin coating which covers and protects the nerves in our body.) The fact that my children were bad sleepers was not the cause of the problem. It just compounded it.

The day the Lord spoke to me I took communion and intentionally, with a clear confession, I forgave my husband for what had happened that night.

Here’s what happened next: The fear immediately left. Over the next 2 weeks the insomnia petered out. The MS symptoms petered out over the next few months, and my health gradually improved. A boldness came over me that I had not seen in myself for a long time. My energy, zest for life, and positive outlook all returned to me. I look forward to my future, expecting my life to become better than it is today. When fear comes knocking at my door, I recognise it easily and do not tolerate it anymore. I know that we were never destined to carry fear. Living free from it is how God wants us to live! Glory to God! Jesus paid with His life and blood so we can walk free from the bondage of fear!

Listen to the interview with Johann Els on Spotify here.

Listen on Anchor here.

Read the testimony on Gateway News here.