Reflections: Waking Up

When I was in County Jail, all of us inmates lived in single cells by ourselves. We only got out of our cells for one hour each day. The isolation for 23 hours a day required that we do what one friend called, “mental gymnastics”, in order to survive. Needless to say, that one hour out of the cell became very important in so many ways. That was my only time to shower, shave, use the phone, and exercise, not to mention just getting some fresh air in an attempt to stay sane.

We were let out in groups of ten, always with the same people, and always at the same time each day. My group would be the first to get out at 8:00 in the morning. They brought us our breakfast in our cells at about 6 am. Then most people would go back to sleep and wait until our 8 o’clock time to go out. The problem was that the guards didn’t do anything to wake people up when it was our time to go out. At 8 am, they would announce over a very quiet speaker, “Group One, your doors are unlocked.” Then, I could press a button on the inside of my cell which would open my door and I could go out.

People often slept through this announcement and so those of us who were awake would often go by and try to wake up those who were still asleep. However, I was always nervous about doing this because all of the inmates in the other cells, who belonged to later groups, were still sleeping. I didn’t want to make them upset by waking them. So I would approach the cell doors of those in my group and lightly knock on the door, and quietly call their name through the crack between the door and the wall. I would never get much louder than that because I didn’t want to cause a disturbance.

The result was that sometimes people in my group just didn’t hear me, and didn’t wake up. This meant that they missed their one chance to get out for the day. I could have pounded on the door or yelled loudly, but I chose not to. Once they woke up, they would realize they missed their time and would be stuck in a cell for the rest of the day without a shower, interaction, or any other privileges. They would often be upset that nobody woke them up, and I would tell them that I wasn’t willing to create a scene just to wake them up. After all, I reasoned, it was actually their responsibility to wake themselves up and I was just doing them a favor to even try.

You might be wondering what any of this has to do with my spiritual journey. Well, I noticed as I became aware of all the lies Satan had led me to believe, that I had been in dire need of a spiritual awakening. Believing in Satan’s lies allowed me to fall into a deep spiritual slumber. Being asleep was allowing me to stray far from the light. I can look back on my life and identify different times when Heavenly Father tried to wake me up through quiet taps on the door, or softly calling my name. He used the Holy Spirit and people around me to try and get my attention.

Unfortunately, I had let myself get to a point where I was sleeping so heavily that I just didn’t hear these attempts to wake me up. If Heavenly Father had stopped there — if He had decided it was my responsibility to wake myself up — I can’t imagine where my spiritual life would be now or what my future would hold. I am so grateful that He was willing to do more to wake me up. He was willing to pound on the door and yell loudly. It is what He had to do in order to get my attention. I wish I had not been so hard to wake up. I wish I did not require such a drastic method of being woken up. It has caused a disturbance and has created a scene. It has caused a lot of hurt for a lot of people. Most, if not all of this, could have been prevented if I had just heard the earlier wake up calls.

I understand now that the drastic measures that my Heavenly Father was willing to take to awaken me are an indication to how much He loves me and knows me personally and intimately. I’m humbled to know he loves me enough to chasten me.

My hope is that others can learn from my mistakes and heed the earlier, softer warning calls. I pray that others will be able to wake up before such disruptive and hurtful events need to happen. There is nothing I can do to change the past, but I continue to be extremely grateful that Heavenly Father was persistent with me in His attempts to wake me up. If He had not done so, I would have lost my opportunity to repent and would have been “stuck in my cell” for a very long time.

Are there any people in your life who are currently trying to wake you up? Is the Holy Spirit softly tapping at your heart and urging you to change? Don’t ignore them. Don’t go back to sleep. It’s time to get and start the new day you have been given before you discover you have missed your chance.

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