I rarely come across a person who says they “sleep like a rock” all of the time. Most would say rarely, if ever at all. We have all had a night or two that we awake in the dark. And as dark does, it threatens to swallow us whole.
Cycling thoughts begin. Never is it on all of the good things going on in our lives. Have you ever heard anyone say they were up all night because they had so many good things, blessings, swimming around in their head?
No, for some reason the dark brings worry. Nervous fretting. Between 1 am and 4 am, it is nervous, short stressful thoughts. We are too tired to reason. To take our thought and assess the worst-case scenario. We never come up with a solution at 3:22 am and only a couple of hours before we have to get up sleepless.
These nervous, unsolvable, worries can range from relationship concerns to financial troubles; from health issues to business conflicts.
What keeps you up at night?
As a service business, one that has a lot of listening and talking, I can wake up on any given night and worry about something I said, or something that was said to me.
If Satan is hanging out with me, switching sides of the pillow with every toss and turn, I am ruminating on these words. Satan assures me that whatever negative connotation that could be had is the appropriate interpretation.
Ugh, Dan probably thought I wasn’t even listening to him. I just blurted out, as soon as he finished explaining his concern, exactly what he should do. At least, what I would do. I know he thought I wasn’t listening. He kept coming back with “but….”. I returned every “but” like a professional tennis player. He is never going to come back.
Jane complained about how her website was working. All she said was that she wasn’t building traffic on her website. Does she think it is our fault? She didn’t accept our digital marketing package. Websites don’t just get traffic the day they go live. We told her what she needed to drive traffic. How can she blame us?
In the absence of light, we feel the darkness drag us down. Our rapid cycling thoughts, with Satan cheering on the sidelines, keep us from rest. Without sleep, our thoughts become more scattered, more hopeless.
If you are in your 60’s, 50’s, 40’s, 30’s, or even 20’s, you have likely had more than a handful of sleepless nights. You know what happens. In reality, when the sun rises, we stumble groggy and blurry-eyed into the day.
We focus on our habits and daily routine.
What kept you up last night starts to dissipate. You know you are tired, but the rapid cycling thoughts slow down. The mundane, or the worries of a new day, take over.
Do you even remember what kept you up last night?
The monsters of the dark that were unslayable, don’t even register on the worry-meter today. Or maybe they do.
Clear-headed With Christ in the Light
I really should have listened more. Dan was really worried about how his customers would respond if he raised prices. It wasn’t the fact that costs have risen suddenly, and a price increase is justified. He really was asking how he could raise prices and help his customers understand. How could he communicate that he wasn’t being greedy, just trying to survive?
I knew we were very clear with Jane about what she should expect regarding traffic when her website went live. As I thought through it in the light of day, I was sure she wasn’t blaming us. At least I was sure that maybe she wasn’t blaming us. I called her and asked if she wanted to set up a meeting with our marketing team and review some traffic generating strategies for her website. She immediately responded enthusiastically, “that would be great”.
Jane has always been a raving fan client. Why would I think she was 100% blaming us? Why at 2 am, when the concern hit me, did I not just say to myself, “Jane loves us, I will call her in the morning and we will figure it out.”
Why when I know everything seems worse in the dark, did I not put it in perspective, and go back to sleep?
A Light In The Darkness
After many decades and my share of sleepless nights, I have finally learned that there is light in the darkness. I have learned that even if Satan has a pitch-black blanket over my head, Jesus can penetrate anything. Jesus is in me and He is light wherever He goes.
I now have a routine to arrest the rapid-cycling, sleep-depriving, anxiety-driven thoughts. They have become habit.
- Distract my thoughts. When you first wake up and the unsettling thoughts are only in the first round of their cycling, I try to immediately stop them before they begin to race. I may try to think about something positive, like a vacation spot or an upcoming event.
- Flash prayer. In a position to return to sleep, I will say a flash prayer to Jesus to keep Satan away and release my mind of any thoughts. I pray for sleep.
- Rationalization and flash prayer. Jesus, I have been here before and I know things will feel different in the morning. It always does. I will trust in that; trust in you. And then say the flash prayer from 2 above.
- Physically hand it over to God. If it is a bad one. If my guard was down and Satan grabbed hold of my mind. If distraction, flash prayers, and rationalization fail. If the minutes on the clock are quickly stealing all available sleep time left….I get up. I know this sounds like a bad plan. But it is necessary. I get up and grab my journal. I sit down and put pen to paper. I tell Jesus about my worries. Writing it out slows down the thoughts. It gets it out of my head. By writing it, I feel like I am physically giving it to Jesus. Usually, by the time I have written all of my fears down and lamented my lack of ability to be rational, I am spent. I am bleary-eyed, stumbling back to bed, and quickly resume sleep.
I honestly can’t remember a time that I actually got up and journaled, that didn’t result in my returning to sleep. It just takes a little more time, so I try a flash prayer first.
So, what keeps you up at night? Assuming it is daytime when you are reading this, memorize this routine proactively. The next time worry threatens your sleep, try it.
Hopefully, the next time someone asks what keeps you up at night, what will you say?