“What?” I answered.
“What! What do you want?”
I realized she couldn’t hear me. I thought I was responding, but I wasn’t.
I could hear her voice, but I was trapped, unable to move or make my vocal cords function.
I was answering from a deep state of sleep paralysis where my body was completely nonfunctional, but my sense of hearing and mind was wide awake. I tried again to answer, but nothing happened.
I had never had this happen before, and I started to panic, wondering if I would snap out of it.
I wanted so desperately to be able to move, but I couldn’t. And the more I tried, the more stuck I seemed to be.
The closest I had ever come to something like this so horrifying was when I fell asleep once with my left hand in the air.
For some reason, I had put my elbow down on the mattress, and my hand was up. I don’t know why I had fallen asleep in that position, but in the middle of the night, it fell right into my face. I opened my eyes and thought someone had broken into my house from a graveyard and slapped me with a cold hand of death. I don’t know what would be more troubling. An actual intruder or a zombie. I assumed it wasn’t mine because I didn’t feel myself doing it.
I went to sit up to defend myself, and my arm slid lifeless to the side. Great! I was at a disadvantage to fight this invisible enemy who had stolen into my bedroom in the dark of night.
I woke up more, stared straight ahead, and figured out I was the only person in the room. That was a relief, but now I had to compensate by moving and transferring a body part that was sound asleep.
I have also awakened to having both arms exactly how that one was. You don’t realize how much you use your appendages for leverage first thing in the morning until they lay unmoving. The only thing you can do is flip and use your legs to get into a sitting position. You feel so accomplished until all the blood starts circulating again and the tingling starts to take over, causing pain. Having no feeling didn’t seem so bad after all.
I don’t know where I got the willpower to overcome the prison where my body kept me. I was so overly tired that it had shut down and wasn’t about to let me open my eyes and have a conversation with someone. By the time I broke free, I had sat up quickly and was out of breath as if I had been underwater for longer than I should have been.
“What?” I finally said, sucking in as much oxygen as I could.
Against my better judgment, I flicked on my light switch. Now I had taken away my ability to see, but I was fully conscious, so that is all that mattered.
“I heard a loud explosion.”
It went without saying that I hadn’t.
“How far away?”
“I don’t know.”
As long as the house wasn’t hit and there wasn’t a crater in the front yard, all was well.
“It was so loud. The house shook.”
I wouldn’t know.
“It was so scary.”
Both of us then realized how far gone I had been, what an odd sensation to want to talk and be aware of someone’s presence but not be able to say a word.
The next day it was reported that a meteor had passed by, breaking the sound barrier. How often had I said that even a bomb going off wouldn’t wake me when I was so depleted of energy?
Recently, this phenomenon happened to me again.
I could hear her yelling,
“Hello! Hello! Hello!”
I thought I was still awake, but I wasn’t. The sound of her voice was faded. This time on some level, I recognized that I wasn’t going to be able to communicate, so I chose to remain nonresistant. I let myself stay stationary until I opened my eyes.
Of course, she had taken that opportunity to shoot a video with her phone of me fast asleep while she was repeatedly trying to get me to respond. She had made a loud noise, told her sister she should run the vacuum cleaner, and started shouting ‘hello’ over and over.
When I opened my eyes, I started laughing, and I couldn’t stop for some reason. It wasn’t the same way I had felt the last time it had happened.
“I was starting to get worried,” said the younger daughter, who was not filming me. “You were not moving at all.”
I have met people who have walked through life like that in a half-sleep state where the world is going on around them, but nothing of eternal value is being accomplished. They are going through the motions. The lights are on, but no one is home.
Looking into a mirror has revealed a truth that I cannot deny. You put on a smile, say all the right words to get yourself out of conflict, and you feel nothing. Your goal becomes blending in and looking like everyone else, so you don’t stand out.
The first time I walked into the storage facility my daughter rented a unit from, I was amazed at how everything looked the same. The multiple rows of garage-type doors and the gleaming bright white floors, and the buzzing of fluorescent lights overhead all in the same order.
Locked up in each one are memories, outdoor equipment, stolen merchandise, and important documents. And you try really hard not to recall that one episode of Dateline where they unlocked one and..forget it.
“What is your number?” I asked. She took out a piece of paper and told me. Without that, we would have wandered for days, not knowing where to go.
It felt like being in a maze where each row was the same as before, and it would be easy to get lost with no direction.
When we got to hers, she had to look again to know what the lock combination was so we could open the door.
God has the answer for escaping your self-prescribed, small way of living. Just like my body going numb from being cut off from the blood supply, you can live in that state for a while and be content with it. But you have to be willing to change. You have to fight to get yourself out of a bed built on a false identity.
The opportunity will present itself where you can either be free or keep doing the same things that only lead to your withering away. If it makes you uncomfortable and it seems impossible, that is just your spiritual circulation kicking in. On the other side of that is liberty.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:5-7, there’s a reminder of this:
You’re sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. So let’s not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let’s keep our eyes open and be smart. (Message)
You can settle for taking a passive approach to life where God constantly gives you nudges to do something that is not your usual, but you ignore it. You choose to hit the snooze button.
You have to come to the understanding that you weren’t put on earth to look only to serve yourself. Doing the same thing with no new results will only lead to self-destruction. Where there isn’t growth, there is eventual death in some way, shape, or form. You deny yourself and the world your gifts and talents.
A sobering fact is that along with keeping your eyes stubbornly slammed shut, you pass up on the chance to help others who need you to be awake.