Each day I think tonight will be the one. The one where I will finally drift into peaceful slumber as soon as my head hits the pillow. The one where I will find the calm my soul and body craves. But night after night, an overactive imagination has other ideas, refusing to put the cares of the day to rest.
Fragments of pale moonlight slip through window blinds, the tossing, turning and adjusting of bed sheets taking their toll. A vitamin or mineral deficiency? Maybe. Too much caffeine? Perhaps. This process of finding a proper balance has been a slow one, adding and subtracting ingredients in hope of finding a solution through nutrition and exercise.
But the heart of the problem doesn’t lie in loss of sleep alone. The true unsettling is that of a restless mind.
Maybe you can relate?
When sleep hovers, but refuses to come close enough to embrace, I find whirling thoughts filter in from all angles. Hands and feet are still, but random streams of consciousness come in a steady flow.
Questions bubble to the surface. Thoughts common to many of us, but those we rarely want to face in the light of day.
Niggling insecurities. Personal doubts and fears. The well being and safety of those we love in a world filled with turmoil.
Perhaps you’ve experienced it too. That transition between wakefulness and sleep where defenses fall, unlocking a vulnerable place for fear and worry to slip through the darkness unbidden.
If so, you’re not alone.
From my pillow, I brush at a loose strand of hair, one simple question suddenly pushing through all others.
What went well today?
Four simple words. But they are the subtle turning point I need, the slight shifting of gears on this runaway train of thoughts.
And then another one.
What blessing can I dwell upon?
A slow, deep breath and my mental focus changes direction, realization dawning. Thoughts are the seeds that set a pattern for our frame of mind, and those that are nourished are the ones that will grow.
It’s not a big secret, really, but have you noticed that important truths can get lost in the noise of life? In the darkness, you and I have an opportunity. Will we choose to multiply our problems or to count our blessings?
I am learning that we are not called to live in fear of the what if, but in the goodness of what is. And night or day, where the mind chooses to settle, the heart will decide to abide.
When plagued by feelings of past regret or taunted by future unknowns, the good may seem elusive at times, but you and I can hold the admonition of Philippians 4:6-8 close at heart.
In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of a good report; if there by any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
I’m also learning that simply letting go of unruly thoughts isn’t enough. They must be replaced, through slow, deliberate sifting. It is the difference between fear and hope, the open bridge from anxiety to peace, with a standing invitation to cross over. Can we take the first step?
With deep, grateful breaths, let’s find the good. And settle there. Unwinding with thankful hearts, let’s choose to focus on what went well and the beautiful expectation of what is possible when our focus is on Christ.
Sleep may not come right away, but the inner calm and peace of His rest will. And ultimately, that is the most important ingredient of all.