So I have a confession to make. I’ve told others before, and it’s certainly not something I still struggle with, but for a long time it kept me in shame, guilt, and isolation.
I used to wet the bed.
“What? Evan, that’s your big confession? Yeah, we all used to wet the bed! Come on!”
I wet the bed til I was fifteen.
Well, not, like, all the time… you see...
I won’t get into the whole story. I mean, we all struggled with wetting the bed when we were kids, right? Well, some more than most, I suppose. I had trouble with bladder control both day and night a little into elementary school, but eventually there was no problem during the day.
But I struggled in the night.
There were failures and successes. I would try to limit my liquids earlier and earlier into the day, and there would be a bunch of dry nights– and then I’d wet the bed again. We’d try different methods and tools to help me wake up. In fact, I remember there was an alarm we’d use that would sound off with a long, loud beep if it detected wetness. One night I had a strange mix of dreams, and at one point I faced a group of mermaid/Sirens. They opened their mouths and shrieked at me- “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeee….” And I woke up and realized it was the alarm going off.
I’m a deep sleeper. Always have been. That was the problem. When the time came in the middle of the night, I lost control because my brain wasn’t registering messages from the bladder and taking over so I could wake up. Or something like that.
It was a thing of deep shame. For years I didn’t talk about it, because in middle school and towards the beginning of high school, I still struggled with it. I was afraid of letting anyone in to my secret.
We tried all the different pads and liners and covers, and they’d help, but fail from time to time. One time we had a family visiting the house, and I hadn’t remembered to put away a pad that lay on top of the sheets. “What’s this?” they asked. Nervous as all get out, I lied and said it was a sheet of plastic that helped me stay cool during the night (cool as in temperature, not popularity-wise.) At the time it seemed like they bought it, but I might have been just far too scared to allow any other thought to cross my mind.
Sleepovers were a rare occasion. I can seriously count on two hands the number of times I slept at a friend’s house– or had friends stay the night in the same room as me. I just couldn’t bear the shame of someone finding out that I still wet the bed at 8 years old, 12 years old, 14 years old.
Camp. One reason I trust that God was and is everpresent at Forest Glen was that I usually made it through the week without an accident. The worst moment was the occasional time it happened when I was working as a counselor, and had to hide my shame.
I know that some good came out of this pain. At camp, I was always protective and helpful towards kids that struggled with wetting the bed. I’ve shared with other people about my struggle, and it has helped me be vulnerable– which is why I’m sharing with you today.
I don’t wet the bed anymore, thank God. (Seriously. I thank God for that blessing.) But I still struggle with shame, embarrassment, guilt, fear, depression, and poor self-image. I still lack control of certain things– thoughts, desires, attitudes, actions. I still stumble in the night and I still hide my shame.
I feel that life is often overwhelming, and I can’t go one day without making at least five mistakes (much more if you want to be nit-picky). Schoolwork? Constantly falling behind. Church service? So much I hope to do, so much that hasn’t been done. Health? I overeat, don’t exercise, and waste my time watching TV or browsing the Internet. Relationships? I don’t talk regularly with my closest friends and find it hard to connect with new people. Home? Dishes are piled up in the sink, clothes need to be washed, there are stains in the rug.
Speaking of stains, my poor 13 year-old puppy, Goldie, is… well… 13 years old. And she has begun to lose control of her bladder. Now, there are times that I’m gone for a long time during the day and she has to relieve herself, and times that I’ve been lazy or busy and haven’t been quick enough to take her out before it was too late. But lately, every once in a while, I wake up and find that she’s wet herself.
So this past Monday morning, I woke up. Already starting the day in failure. I had meant to wake up early enough to work out with some friends at 7 am. I woke up at 6… but fell asleep again. I had meant to go meet with my professor at 9 am, and I woke up in enough time to get ready and go… but I didn’t. All my 60+ tasks that I need to complete came rushing at me, and I went back to sleep, because sleep is safe, secure, comforting. Wake up again? 9:59. I’ve missed my meeting. I’m a failure.
So I roll over, and there’s Goldie, lying on the floor, sleeping like a log. (Where did that phrase come from? Do logs sleep?) I reach over to pet her, but ever so softly, so as not to wake her up. She’s the sweetest thing when she’s asleep. Truth is, I love her whether she’s sleeping or awake, when she’s barking at people outside or whining for more food. I just love the girl. Anyway, she woke up and rolled over. I pet her back, rubbed her tummy– and once again, I find that she’s peed in the middle of the night again.
And in that moment, I said this to her:
“Awww… Goldie. You wet yourself again… *sigh* … But I still love you.”
And as I reached over to pull her up into bed to let her sleep next to me, as I pet her and she snored beside me, I realized something. I realized something and I felt a comforting warmth grow deep in the core of my being.
God my Father just wants me close to His heart.
Abba doesn’t hate me for my mess. He also doesn’t ignore it. He calls out my sin and brokenness and He helps me out of it. And He leans over and tells me…
“…But I Still Love You.”
He saw me in the shame of my childhood, in my guilt and in my fear. And He loved me all the same. He knew my deepest secrets and shame, and He loved me still.
He sees me now, lying in my mess, surrounded by late assignments and dirty dishes, missed appointments and unmet expectations, dashed hopes and broken hearts, candy wrappers and wasted moments, unread Scripture and unsaid prayers, dirty clothes and anger problems, sins and selfishness, mistakes and shame.
And he cares for me and tells me…
“…But I Still Love You.”
…But God has shown us how much he loves us—it was while we were still sinners that Christ died for us!
…But Christ loved us. He has helped us to win great victory in all these things. I know this. Death, life, angels, rulers, things happening now, things that will happen, high things, low things; nothing else in all the world can come between us and God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord.
…But God, with the unfathomable richness of His love and mercy focused on us, united us with the Anointed One and infused our lifeless souls with life—even though we were buried under mountains of sin—and saved us by His grace.
Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.
Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called “children of God”—and that is not just what we are called, but what we are.
We are His children.
We are loved.
It’s gonna be okay.