Don’t believe your black thoughts in the middle of the night

I just want to sleep!

Some nights I have trouble turning off my spinning mind and sink into slumber after I’ve followed my usual regimen of devotions, often followed by a crossword puzzle to keep my mind from straying down a plethora of rabbit trails.

phonegamesNOTE: Playing games on my phone doesn’t work. Sure it numbs my mind, but it doesn’t bring me closer to sleep at all. Maybe it’s the light…

But some nights my mind refuses to give in to the tiredness of my body. Or I wake in the middle of the night with a reoccurring cycle of thoughts that refuse to quit spinning. This often occurs when there’s something I’m anxious about or don’t understand, but I’ve learned not to buy into the emotion of my thoughts in the black of night—they are black also.

I started using alphabet games: names beginning with each letter, three-syllable words, places …This stops the spinning, but the negative emotion remains.

One night I was full of worries, and asked myself, “Where do I go for peace, love, encouragement, and hope?”

The answer was easy: “God, because he is the one in control.”

hymnSo I used the alphabet to list attributes of God. I fell asleep the third time through, around the letter E, and my sleep was calm and deep. I woke up rested, and started the next day saying, “Thank you, God, for the reminder to rest in you.”

Since that night I’ve continued to focus on God as I go to sleep, using a lot of variations of the alphabet method: songs, Bible verses, Biblical characters, songs, old hymns…

Our nights can be full of anxiety or they can full of God. It’s possible to choose the thoughts that spin through our minds, thoughts that bring blackness or hope.

I choose God—awake or asleep.

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