Sleeplessness and Spaces Too Big for Me


Creativity is living in possibility and abundance rather than limitation and scarcity.

–CJ Lyons

I woke this morning at 4am. I’ve struggled with insomnia for years, so I know this hour well. 4am is no-man’s-land: it’s too late to take a sleep aid, but too early to get up and feel good about it. My thoughts and prayers at this hour are guttural, authentic, and a bit delirious. If I go back to sleep, I know I’ll feel groggy all day. If I don’t, I’ll be irritable. Now what?

My brain kept churning through all the things I need to accomplish, so I surrendered to my monkey-mind and went downstairs. I started the coffee pot and assumed position on my threadbare couch. I made to-do lists and attempted to write. I got a few fragmented thoughts down, but it felt like there was a force-field between me and the screen. I ate a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich and drank my coffee. Two hours later, I was still exhausted. It was only 6:00am on a Saturday morning. The whole house was still asleep. Now what?

I decided to take a small nibble of a sleeping pill, get back in bed, and pray that my kids didn’t wake me up. I slept for the next 2 hours, a solid sleep with vivid dreams about an enormous home I owned with rooms I’d still never seen. This is a recurring dream. Sometimes the houses differ, but the dream is the same: I live in a house that is too big for me. I can’t keep track of all the rooms and it bothers me that I’m not intimately connected to each space of the home. I cringe that half the rooms are either empty, abandoned, or cluttered and undecorated.

I realize this dream is a projection of one of my greatest real-life frustrations—a sense that my life is too big for me—the house, the stuff, my wild children, and all the demands and responsibilities that they bring. My nursing career and my writing pursuits, my relationships, my husband, my faith—all of these things I love dearly—and like the rooms in my dreams, I worry there’s not enough of me to meet the needs of all these spaces. It’s simply not possible to be acquainted with each part of my life on the level that I want and need to be. Does this mean I need to downsize, or does this mean I need to change my approach?

I like to pick a word at the onset of each year to meditate on and live into. This year, my word is ABUNDANCE—not to mean accumulating external wealth—I already have too much stuff to take care of! Rather, it’s the concept that I already have everything I need, that I am already living the life I’m meant to live. I’m aware of my constant urge to control my life based on my perceived lack of energy and time, which daily grinds against God’s invitation to live a life larger than my own limitations. It comes down to a daily choice I must make: trust in God’s abundant provision, or trust in my own sense of scarcity.

I’m reminded of the simplicity of Christ’s message: FOLLOW ME. He calls his disciples—a bunch of scraggly, underqualified men who are foolish in the eyes of the Pharisees—to grow God’s Kingdom. Jesus teaches them to trust Him, to watch Him multiply the loaves and fishes when they don’t have enough to go around. It’s a messy, foolish, and illogical brand of faith, the kind that requires we bring our delirious Now what’s? to Jesus and watch Him perform some magic.

Fear comes for me in the middle of night in the recesses of my own mind, telling me I need to withdraw from life and relationships so I can get my crazy-self under control again. The insomnia monster whispers that I don’t have what it takes to live the life God has given me. But I’ve lived long enough to know this is a lie. I will never feel that I have my crap together enough, or that all the rooms of my home are tended to carefully enough.

This year, I’m choosing to live from a place of possibility and abundance anyways, trusting Jesus to mind the gaps of my abandoned rooms and sleepless nights.

It’s like Jane Kenyon writes in her poem “Year Day”: the hermit gives up after thirty years of living in the jungle. The last door to the last room comes unlatched. May 2018 be a year of unlatching, a year of creatively living into God’s abundance!

Libby Kurz holds a BS in Nursing and an MFA in Creative Writing. Her work has been published in The Poet’s Billow, Relief Journal, Driftwood Press, and Literary Mama. A veteran of the US Air Force Nurse Corps, she now resides on the coast of Virginia with her family. When she’s not reading, writing, and keeping tabs on her three kids, she works as registered nurse and teaches poetry workshops. She is passionate about a good cup of coffee, bumming on the beach, and finding meaning in the ordinary moments of life. You can find her at