Tag Archives: Insomnia

Losing Or Giving?

At the beginning of Lent I read a few suggestions of things to do when it came to prayer. I’ve actually had a really prayerful Lent so far. I’d say it’s going well. I haven’t been perfect about my fasting, but I chose a pretty difficult fast. Anyway, one suggestion that seemed like a good idea was to read through the Gospel of Mark start to finish. The suggestion was to read it all in one go, but I’m taking it really slowly, and reading a chapter per day, or even less than that if I feel God wants me to stay with something for a while.

The other night I couldn’t sleep. I woke up at 3:00, and immediately knew I was done for the night, so I said, “Lord, I’ll stay up with you if you want.” I got this feeling that He wanted me to read through His Passion. I Went online and read it, slowly, and stopped where I felt like He wanted me to. I’ll admit I cried. I just finished reading “Consoling the Heart of Jesus” by Father Michael Gaitley, which I highly recommend. In it, he talks about how Christ really does suffer with us. In a revelation to Saint Faustina, Jesus said that, if her duties permitted, she should make the Stations of the Cross at 3:00. The 3:00 hour, He says, is the Hour of Mercy. Because He died at this time, He said to Saint Faustina that He will be exceptionally merciful.

Yesterday and today I made this prayer. Between that and finishing the book, I can honestly say that I’ve fallen deeper in love with Jesus. Yesterday, two other significant things happened. I read Mark 8: 35, which is where Jesus says, “…whoever wants to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” For eons this has confused the heck out of me. For some reason, though, I stopped there, and kept it with me for the rest of the day. Later, I finished re-writing a song. I struggled with this re-write. It took me three hours or so. Incidentally, though, this idea of losing my life for His sake ended up in the new version, and I realized that I wasn’t losing anything.

Jesus lost His life for our sake, but what He really did was give His life to us. I’ve chosen to follow Him. The idea of losing my life is scary, but the idea of giving my life to Him because I love Him isn’t. The idea of losing something leaves this nasty feeling of uncertainty. When you lose something or someone, there’s a kind of emptiness that needs to be filled. Sometimes this is easy. If you accidentally left a water bottle somewhere, in other words, if you’ve lost it, you can easily get another one. It’s a little trickier when you’ve lost your phone, for example because that might have had important personal information on it. It would be especially difficult for me because I use my phone to write my song lyrics, and I haven’t transferred them all to my computer. It’s especially hard when you lose a loved one because that person is literally irreplaceable.

On the other hand, giving something away doesn’t leave that empty feeling that losing does. If you give something as a gift, especially, you know where it is, you know who has it, and you know that it’s treasured (ideally). Jesus revealed to several saints that what really bothers Him most is that the gift of His life is not appreciated by so many people. What consoles Him is when we do accept and treasure His sacrifice and His life. Losing my life sounds terrifying, for obvious reasons, but giving it to Jesus, who I know treasures it, isn’t scary at all. I know who I belong to, and I know my gift is treasured.

That probably isn’t too terribly insightful, but that’s what I got for tonight. 🙂

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Growing Up With Me

I just read a few posts from 2012-the year I started my blog. It’s interesting to see how the site has grown up as I’ve grown up. I already thought I was a Christian when I started blogging. The truth is, I didn’t personally know Jesus yet. I believed he was the God of the universe, and I vaguely knew that he saved the world, but I didn’t yet understand that he had saved my soul because he genuinely cared about me personally and wanted to be my friend. In 2012 I had some pretty funny, some good, and a lot of naive ideas. My posts were also a lot more varied in terms of subject matter back then, which I guess is neither here nor there. My posts these are largely about work and God, though sometimes they’re about stories in general or random life stuff. The blog has also largely turned into a way of procrastination, as well as a space to dig for treasure, and hopefully find some truth, whether I like that truth or not.

In the almost seven years I’ve kept the blog, I’ve learned a lot and I’ve gained just over three hundred followers. I don’t think all those people come here often, but that’s okay. This blog has been a companion in my many journeys that have taken place in the course of such short a time. It has been my companion through college, finals, insomnia, epilepsy, faith, hope, fear, love, and milestones. In a lot of ways, it’s kept me going. It’s been a place where I can share my truth, which sometimes, as ugly as it can be, just needs to be squirted out in muddy water colors. This is where frustration and triumph happens. This is where failures are confessed and victory proclaimed. This is where messes are made with the joy of a child, and I admit, in the grand scheme of things, I am one.

I write this as an encouragement to all my fellow bloggers, journalists, and writers in general. Tell the truth. Tell your truth, but more importantly, tell God’s truth. Fear nothing. Writing takes courage, and honestly, sometimes clicking the “Publish” button can be terrifying. Click it anyway. Sometimes we write something, expecting it to get us tons of attention, and no one gives us a second glance. Keep writing. In every circumstance, keep writing. When the world is falling apart keep writing. When you’re on cloud nine, write about it because sometimes the rest of us need to hear what cloud nine looks like. Sometimes your good day can be a happy five minutes for someone who is having an otherwise crappy day. Stories, especially true ones, teach us empathy, so write them. Keep writing, and don’t stop. Write without a reason. Write because you like to. Write because you know you’re good at it. Write because you think you’re good at it. Write even if you suck at it because it brings you joy. Just don’t stop.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

This One Thing

I haven’t been sleeping well this week. It happens from time to time. Sometimes it’s for no particular reason, and sometimes I’m just thinking or worrying too much about something. I just keep waking up ludicrously early and something pops into my head, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Two or three days ago a really disturbing question popped into my head. Helping the poor, the sick, and the needy is a big deal to Jesus. I don’t even drive a car. I have to ask for assistance to get basically anywhere unless I’m going to one of my friends’ houses or church, and even then, getting to church by rolling there takes time.

I feel bad about inconveniencing my parents, and I don’t make any of my own money right now, so I can’t even donate to charity. I teach three CCD classes, and I pray for people who need help, and I write stuff here, but is that enough? If I’m not actually there in person to help out, in other words, If I’m not doing what Jesus said to do (according to how my mind works), am I actually Christian? I have no idea how this popped into my head. It was dumb, but I had to get an answer. So, like usual, at 6:00 in the morning (which is WAY earlier than I like to be awake), I was researching on my phone.

Before even looking, though, I prayed, and I tried to find a concrete answer somewhere in scripture. I wasn’t sure where to look, so I ended up searching for what made someone a Christian somewhere else on the internet. I found an answer pretty quickly that really seemed to make sense. To be a Christian, someone has to believe in Jesus, and try to do what he did. Jesus doesn’t expect us to do more than we’re able. This is so simple, really, but I think the simplicity of it makes it easy to forget.

I’ve talked about my hero complex before, and I’ve realized something more. Sometimes I wonder why God made me the way he did. Sometimes I wonder why he made me so I can’t drive myself around or fully control my epilepsy, and therefore, can’t get a normal job. I think part of the reason is so I can’t feed my ego. If I was able to do things the way I want to do them, I might not be so interested in helping. The fact of the matter is, I don’t like being dependent, and if I were totally independent, I probably wouldn’t be so empathetic towards people who are also dependent on others.

I realized something else through that whole experience, though. When I woke up with that horrible question in my head, it terrified me. I realized that my entire identity rests on the fact that I am Christian. I could write a substantial list of qualities that contribute in some way to who I am, but they’re just not important to me. I never fully realized this until my identity in Christ came into question. It was like questioning whether I exist or not.

Realizing this has actually made me feel pretty good. I know who I am. I’m not sure how many people can confidently say that. For many, I think it’s hard to track down one’s true identity. I used to think the fact that I was a fantasy writer was my true identity. The problem with identifying myself so much with that was that there were so many questions and variable factors. Am I actually any good? Is anyone going to like my book? Am I ever going to get published once I finish this thing? Is this thing just totally crazy? Is it only ever going to make sense to me? How long is it going to take to finish this? Am I always going to be writing fantasy? Even if this does go well, what do I write next? This is so complicated, and I have so many ideas! Some days this is so fun, and some days it’s such a drag! Luckily, none of that really matters. All that matters is that I believe and I’m trying.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Day 3

I’ve had an interesting day so far. It technically started before the sun came up. I couldn’t sleep last night, so I lay in bed and made up a weird story for an hour and a half or so. It wasn’t bad for bored-at-two-in-the-morning. I remember a lot of it, but I don’t think I’ll bother writing it down. I think it’ll be my secret insomnia story.

I got up around 10:15 because I was supposed to come up with the lesson plan for today’s CCD class yesterday, which doesn’t take long, but I forgot, so I needed to have time to do that plus eat lunch. That all got done and the lesson itself went swimmingly, although I think I occasionally get a little too complicated for my nine-year-old students. When I was a kid I hated CCD. It wasn’t taught well. I just want them to know Jesus. I definitely didn’t know him when I was a kid.

After my lesson I came home and assessed my mosaic. My dad and I got a lot done last night, and I realized I just need to glue one more design piece down before starting on the background, which is going to be all black tiles. It was cool to realize that I now know how to complete the puzzle. We ended up talking a bit about mosaics in class today because, surprisingly, most of the kids didn’t know what they were. One of the kids asked me what mine looks like. I told him it currently looks like a mess.

I didn’t have a whole lot of time to do mosaic things, though, because I had to get upstairs before Kathy came over. She was super nice and cool and kind of reminded me of our family friend who lives in Florida. What she told me was so reassuring. I, Katie Curtis, can become a consecrated virgin. I still have a lot of thinking to do, but I’m pretty sure this is exactly what I want, and there’s nothing getting in my way that I can see. She said the next thing I should do is read a document on this vocation that’s provided online and meet with the director of vocations in Boston.

The most helpful thing she said, though was that, while I’m working through all of this, I can say that I’m dating Jesus. It sounds weird, but I’ve been wanting to be able to say that for a long time. I’ve loved him for a long time in a way that has felt more than friendship, and I haven’t known what to call it. It was just this weird in-between thing. I think I’m right. Everything is telling me that I’m right. It’s kind of ridiculous. Right now I’m listening to very weird music that I’m not sure I even really like, and I haven’t got anything done on my Mythology today, but I don’t even care. I’m in a stupidly good mood.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

How Far

When I graduated college I didn’t know what I was doing. I’m not sure anyone ever entirely figures that out. Even when one has a normal, well-paying, steady job, has a fabulous relationship, or is happily single, has a nice place to live, has good friends, etc, it’s hard to know if one is ever really satisfied or has figured it out. I think we spend our whole lives “figuring it out,” and I’m not sure that goal is often accomplished in this life. This is all probably pretty cliche by now, but it matters. I think it’s important to be okay with admitting that you don’t know what you’re doing or where you’re going or why. I’ve been getting more comfortable about answering hard questions with “I don’t know.” There are a million questions that I don’t know the answer to, and that’s okay.

I do think it’s important to keep asking questions and to keep learning. On Thursday I went to confession and admitted to something I’ve been avoiding for a long time, and once I did, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of me. Of course, later I accidentally did it again. However, I think I figured out how to solve the problem. Something I’ve been thinking about for months now is how an infinite, perfect God, who loves everyone, and made everything not only pays attention to, but loves me no matter what. It’s actually the “no matter what” part that baffles me most. The ironic thing is that the more I get to know Jesus, the more I see my own imperfections. I keep trying to answer questions about why he created me and why he loves me, when he just does. I keep asking these questions that I can’t answer because I’m broken and he’s not.

Yesterday I came up with a new question. Why am I broken? Obviously I can jump to original sin, and all that noise, but really my question is, why did humans turn against God in the first place? The cliche answer, of course, is “because we have free will, and maybe we wanted to see what would happen,” or something along those lines. I don’t think people ever entirely grow out of the curious, rebellious child phase. I still have it in me, anyway. I don’t think there is a good explanation. While I don’t like it, I guess it’s a good thing that I’m seeing my mess more, and I do want to clean it up. Before receiving communion in the Catholic Church (and it’s probably the same in other churches), we say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” I think it’s helpful to think of my soul as a messy house. He sees the mess and likes me anyway. He doesn’t approve of the mess, and that’s why I’m going to clean it up.

Jesus taught me what love is. I don’t mean that I understand it because of his actions or his teachings, at least not entirely. What I really mean is that he loved me until I loved him back. He loves me completely so I can love him more. Trust me, if it sounds weird to you, it sounds weird to me, too. It understandably sounds insane. For awhile I was using the word “unbelievable,” but that’s not entirely accurate. I’ve switched to “amazing,” which doesn’t really do the feeling justice. It’s amazing and awe-inspiring and baffling and crazy and exciting and a lot of other things that I don’t really have words for. The God of the universe, who was also a regular human being two thousand years ago, and is actually more human than I am, loves me, and I love him.

A lot of things about God “just are.” He wants us to love him because he loves us and he loves us because that’s just what he does. That’s who he is. He has infinite power and can do literally impossible things, but the very core of his being is love, and what’s crazy is that it makes him relatable and in some sense, vulnerable because we can say “no” to that love. He made us knowing that, not only was it a possibility, but that it was going to happen.

Last night I woke up crazy late (or early) and couldn’t sleep for a while, so I decided to read. The Bible site I use was open on my phone, so I went to the chapter I hadn’t read yet this time around, which included the story of the Prodigal Son. Last week, really by accident, I watched a video about this story. Apparently the people Jesus was teaching were familiar with another story that is similar to this one, only at the end of it, the kid’s father gives him exactly what he asks for and no longer considers him his son. I decided to try and find that story, so I googled “prodigal son,” and I didn’t find the story I was looking for, but I did find an analysis of Jesus’ story, which emphasized the role of the older brother.

Apparently, according to Jewish law, the older brother would have got two thirds of his father’s estate when he split it up–not half. Also, while the brothers owned the money and the stuff, they didn’t have control over it, exactly. The younger brother could sell his third, but for one thing, he would have sold it at a loss, and for another, it would have to stay with his father until his father’s death. Furthermore, by asking his dad to split up his belongings in the first place, the younger brother is basically saying that he wants him to hurry up and die. The older brother says nothing. He just takes his two thirds instead of trying to make peace between his dad and his brother. At the end of the story, he’s ticked that his brother is back and safe, but when his dad says “Everything I own is yours,” he means it quite literally.

I think it’s possible to see ourselves in both brothers. Even last night I felt stupid for doing the exact same thing I had confessed to only hours before on Thursday. Sometimes when that kind of thing happens I get a little crazy, so last night after reading that analysis I was praying and I just kept thinking, “Please forgive me.” And then I remembered. It’s no matter what. In the story, God is represented by the forgiving father. He willingly does what his son asks, and immediately forgives him. There’s no mention of anger. I realized last night that sometimes life would be easier if I knew for sure that God was mad at me, but really this is because it’s easy to get mad at someone if they’re mad at you first, so I dropped that thought. Confession is kind of a tool. When I go, it’s not always because I want to. It’s because “sorry” doesn’t really cut it. It’s because explaining what I’ve done wrong isn’t easy, but it’s liberating.

Before returning to heaven, Jesus tells his disciples, “what sins you forgive are forgiven.” He allows people to forgive sins for him. God already knows what we’re going to do, let alone what we’ve done. I think that’s a large part of the reason it’s important to confess to a priest. It’s for us. It seriously cuts through a person’s ego sometimes. It took me quite a while to admit what I needed to, but the first time is the hardest. I think God allowed me to make the same mistake again (key word being “allowed”) so that I’d have to admit it again today. He knows that really irritates me. God doesn’t make anyone do anything. He only asks us to do things, and if we say “yes,” then he’ll work with us to see how far that “yes” will go.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

I Put It Behind Me

Every night my dad and I have the same routine. He comes home, we eat dinner together with my mom and brother and birdie-brother, watch the news until I can’t stand politics any more, and then we go downstairs to race and watch a movie or two before bed. My dad and I watch a lot of movies.

Every night we play Crash Team Racing, which came out some time in the 1990’s on the Play Station 1. We always play a best-of-five tournament, and we always use the same five tracks. We also always turn the game sound off and listen to music while we play. Last night my dad put on an artist that I didn’t recognize. I didn’t pay all that much attention to it, partially because I didn’t particularly love it.

I couldn’t sleep again last night, so like usual, I read. I was reading through 1 Corinthians, and at one point, Paul emphasizes over and over that God raised Jesus from the dead and he will do the same for us. Obviously it’s important to believe that. In my last post I talked about how I realized the fullness of what that means. He’s alive today. He’s with us in everything we do. I was reading this stuff at around 4:00 this morning, and I was awake, but sleepy. At some point I read (paraphrased) “he will raise us from the dead,” and though it wasn’t even an entirely formulated thought, I had a moment of doubt. What if he doesn’t?

It only lasted for a second, or maybe even half a second, and I immediately felt bad. I was annoyed with myself for thinking it and I decided right away that I would go to confession on Thursday. I can honestly say that my faith has been really solid and I haven’t had even a speck of doubt for a long time, so of course, my initial instinct was to sulk. Then I realized that a better response would simply be to put it behind me.

I do believe that Jesus is alive. I do believe that God raised him from the dead. I do believe that there’s a life after this one. Most importantly, I believe that my sins have been forgiven. It was an accident. Sulking about it would not be productive. More to the point, sulking makes me focus on me and how I failed and now that makes me feel. It makes me ignore God at a time when I need him most, and it makes me feel alone. So instead I prayed. I just said over and over, “I believe in you. I trust you. I’m putting this behind me. We’re good.” I made a point just to talk to God before I fell asleep, and it took me a while, but I felt a lot better.

While all this was going on I had a line from a song stuck in my head, and I realized it was from the artist we were listening to while I was playing with my dad. The line was “If I ever lost my faith in you/ there’d be nothing left for me to lose.” I don’t know any of the other lyrics, and I’m pretty sure it was about a girl or something, but that’s not the point. God was using those two lines to help me out because it’s absolutely true. Nothing else would matter. I’d be adrift with no destination. It’s not a matter of where I would end up, but who I would be with, and I’d be alone. I need Jesus more now than when I first met him.

Maybe that sounds counter intuitive. I think as you become more interested and involved in spiritual matters you realize just how big the universe is, and just how small you are. It’s so important to trust God. He loves everyone perfectly, and he desperately wants us to love him back. We can’t do that unless we trust him. I’ve come to realize that trust, even by itself, is almost even more important than direct love when it comes to relationships with anyone. If you don’t trust someone completely, you can’t love them.

I’m slowly but surely moving towards the next milestone, whatever that may be. I’m putting that moment of doubt behind me because Jesus put it behind me. It doesn’t matter because that moment of doubt isn’t who I am. I don’t belong to that doubt. I don’t live in that doubt. Jesus is alive, and I’m alive; I have faith because of him.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Why?

Last night my epilepsy decided not to behave. Usually this happens when it’s getting a little late (around nine or ten o’clock) for no discernible reason. I take my medicine at eleven AM, and eleven PM every day, but for whatever reason, I still get a little “brain fuzz.” It’s hard to explain exactly what happens, but it usually only lasts a few minutes at most. The problem is that it makes me tired, and I keep making the mistake of going to bed too early. The point is, I went to bed around ten last night and woke up at midnight, wide awake. I couldn’t fall asleep again until around five this morning. Coffee is a beautiful thing.

We figured out I had epilepsy when I was eight. I don’t remember when I started having seizures, but I do remember when I finally got medicine and they went away. I was totally fine on a very low dose until about my sophomore year of college. Since then we’ve been increasing my does periodically because I’ve been having “brain fuzz” more and more frequently. It’s mostly annoying more than anything else. Part of the problem is that it’s hard to explain exactly what my symptoms are because, interestingly, I can’t comprehend language while I’m having issues. I can’t talk, and I can’t understand when people try to talk to me. I say it’s interesting because, unless it’s bad, it doesn’t really scare me anymore.

Last weekend a friend of mine came to my house  for the first time. We sort of officially became friends last year. We had a class together and it turned out we had a lot in common. At least we’re both super nerdy. I graduated last May, and he’s graduating this coming spring. We’ve wanted to hang out since last year, but we never got a chance, so we’ve been talking a lot via Facebook. Last weekend my friend got to see what “brain fuzz” looks like. This weekend he wants to hang out again. I’m so glad. It just makes me feel weird and yucky when my friends see my brain betray me. I know they don’t care, but it bothers me, nonetheless.

Epilepsy is confusing from a spiritual standpoint. Sometimes it doesn’t even cross my mind to pray or talk to God, and sometimes I get seriously angry. Sometimes, depending on how bad my symptoms are, it terrifies me. I don’t know why I started having symptoms again just a few years ago, and I don’t understand why they seem to be getting worse, but I guess at this point I don’t really care. I don’t think it’s going to go away, so there’s not really anything I can do at this point. I know God cares, even if it doesn’t seem like it, and I know he loves me. Everything is going to be okay, and I refuse to believe otherwise. If he won’t get rid of it, and pills won’t get rid of it, there’s a good reason. Maybe I won’t figure it out, but that’s okay, too.

While I couldn’t sleep last night I read, and I found this: “Don’t ever lose hope or let your tears stop” (Lamentations 2:18). At first that didn’t make sense to me. If you have hope, then why are you crying? If you’re crying, then you must not be hopeful. God tells his people not to be afraid because he is in control. He also says not to worry. I’m really good at not worrying. People actually find it annoying. Of course I occasionally worry, but it’s really not often. On the other hand, things scare me. I’m jumpy, and I’m superstitious, which is a bad combination. I don’t think God is asking his people to literally not be afraid. I’m not sure that’s even possible. Fear is a survival instinct. It’s natural. I think he’s asking us to scurry to him when we are afraid and to remember that we can rely on him no matter what. He will always make things okay.

He says, “Don’t ever lose hope or let your tears stop.” I think he’s saying that it’s okay to fall apart. It’s okay to be vulnerable. It’s okay to be scared. He will carry us. I think we can’t be utterly vulnerable or helpless unless we do have hope. I can’t do anything when my brain misbehaves. I cannot for the life of me figure out why it happens or how to stop it. Sometimes it’s just a minor inconvenience, and sometimes it’s terrifying and infuriating. I kind of know how to get rid of my symptoms of they’re not so bad, but sometimes there is nothing I can do. If it’s bad enough I just have to go to sleep, and at that point I just have to say (sometimes without words) “Lord, I’m at your mercy. Please take care of me.” I always wake up. My brain always gets better.

I think God allowed me to have MD and epilepsy so that I would have to rely on him, so that I would know him, and so that I would understand things better, and maybe be able to explain some of those things. That’s pretty cool. He picked me for a special reason. I can live with that. I can play three instruments now. I can write well. I can snuggle my stupid little bird. I can play my nerdy games with my nerdy friends. I have a pretty awesome life. It isn’t perfect, but that’s okay. It’s darn good.

I get to invent words like Wuja: a thing that is too cute for words!

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

Insomnia Induced Idea

I went to bed uncharacteristically early last night because my epilepsy wasn’t behaving, which of course meant I woke up at some unreasonable hour. I wanted to get up and read, but that would have been a pain for my parents, so I decided to invent a story instead. Somehow that got me thinking about the story line I’ve been following in Oblivion, which turned out to be entirely unhelpful since I’m presently stuck in that game (I’ve been playing Minecraft instead).

Eventually, because my mind is a tangential lunatic, and because insomnia is particularly conducive to intellectual meandering, I got to thinking about Christmas. Christmas is about celebrating how God came among us as a human, and I realized something interesting. The Gospel is not the only story in which a god becomes human, but it is unique in that, as far as I know, it’s the only story in which a god becoming human has a good outcome for humanity in general. It is also the only story in which, again, as far as I know, a god comes among humans as someone vulnerable and helpless. Lastly, it is the only story in which his humanity is permanent, and has a permanent outcome.

We hear all the time how amazing it is that God came among us in human form, but compare it to other stories. Last fall I took a class about ancient literature–namely Greek and Roman mythology. It was a ton of fun because those stories are absolutely insane. I love the insanity, and I realized that a lot of what those gods did made no sense, but a lot the things the Christian God does don’t seem to make a ton of sense either (to me at least). The difference is that God does everything out of love, while in most other stories involving deities, the gods are largely self-serving. Furthermore, those stories are episodic, and while some of the stories in the Bible are episodic, it is professed that God has an overarching plan for humanity.

This is what happens when you study literature and theology together.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly