Small Talk at 2 am

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4.6-7 ESV)

I was listening to a podcast featuring a hero of mine, Barbara Brown Taylor, and there was a time when the interviewer made a comical but profound statement. There’s no small talk at 2 am. She’s completely right. If you’re up at 2 am, likely you cannot sleep; kept awake by some worry or fear or unrest that plagues you. No one’s mind at 2 am is where it is at 2 pm. At 2 pm you’re likely in a meeting or between them; you’re present with whatever the task is but you’re also probably ticking off the schedule of which kid gets picked up when and which activities are on the docket for that day. Our 2 pm selves can do small talk. Our 2 am selves, not so much. 

Since this pandemic began I have been spending a great deal of time with my 2 am self. I often wake in a panic from some dream I cannot tell if it’s real. Last night I awoke because I had dreamed some statistic in FL had reported a huge spike in cases since opening beaches and that the data had caused Michigan to further their stay at home order to June 1. Did that happen? It could’ve happened. Did I really dream it? I pulled out of my phone to fact check because my 2 am self was useless. I had dreamed it, but it wasn’t so out of the realm of possibility. I returned to asking myself questions like, why do you have to have a schedule so badly? This time could be a gift, can’t you accept it as gift? I didn’t even watch the news tonight I shouldn’t be dreaming about it. Wait is that why I am dreaming about it? Is this isolation doing something to my psyche? Can I not reset my functioning to being instead of doing? 

I miss my 2 pm self. I would rather complain about traffic, or chat about weekend plans, or recap the last week’s soccer game. 

I wonder if we have perhaps spent too much time with our 2 am selves. Mine is exhausting. Important to my spiritual growth, yes, but currently unable to hear the words of Paul: do not be anxious about anything. My 2 am self bulldozed the word ‘anything’ and heard only: “Be anxious about everything…..yada yada…. Jesus.” My 2pm self would have not only believed and understood this verse but have created a nice graphic of it for a Facebook post as well. We need both our 2 am and 2 pm selves. They keep us functional and help us grow. Our 2 am self allows us to ask difficult questions, allows to wrestle with fears and sadness; something our 2 pm self is too scheduled for. At this time when our calendars are clear, let us be able to bring both selves equally to the challenges ahead. We need both. 

Prayer: God, as we access both our 2 am and 2 pm versions of ourselves may our anxiety grow weaker and the peace Christ offers grow stronger. Amen.

Author: Darcy Crain