A Restless Mind
Rest is often elusive for me. My mind goes crazy at night. I lie in bed with my eyes closed, desperate for sleep to relieve me of my thoughts. On a good night it takes about an hour from the time my head hits the pillow to the time my thoughts become dreams. Almost always my thoughts and dreams are driven by whatever my last focus was before going to bed.
If I checked my work email then I’m mentally mapping out the next work day. If I checked my son’s grades online I’m stressing about timelines of projects he has due. If I watched TV my mind runs wild with meaningless nonsense. If I’ve read my Bible I’m thinking on who I’ve read about and pondering the lesson learned, which almost always leads to prayer. That is when I stumble into a state of peace and my body releases the weight of all of life’s preoccupations. This is when I don’t toss and turn, when I allow my faith to usher me to sleep through the truest form of rest, God’s word.
Mentally Checked Out
Many of us have days where we come home from work tired and spent with not a whole lot left to give. I’ve commiserated with friends and family who also have to commute to work about the zombie-like state that sitting in traffic puts us in. Walking through the front door sometimes feels more like sleepwalking through the front door.
These are the days that I just want to spend the evening retreating from anything requiring brain activity. On goes the TV, occasionally followed by a glass of wine. The kid will have to grab a can of something out of the cupboard for dinner. The Mom in me is a no-show. The employee in me has clocked out. The friend in me is off the radar. I just need to not be needed in any capacity and rest.
So what about the Christian in me?
Does the Christian in me get to check out when I’m tired? The answer should be “no”, but the reality is that a lack of discipline will result in just that. Ironically my vices for “rest” are anything but. They do nothing to draw me nearer to an honest encounter with renewal, and instead leave me feeling guilty. The guilt? Only makes me more tired. Clearly checking out in front of the TV and mindlessly scrolling through Facebook only makes things worse.
I experience the opposite when I train myself to take a more disciplined approach. When I choose to open my bible, listen to worship music, or watch an online sermon, the things that occupy my mind which make me so tired take a back seat. The result is that when I do turn the lights off and close my eyes, my preoccupations are no longer center stage. They do weave their way back into my thoughts, which is an opportunity to take my thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5), and that is so much easier to do when I’ve just finished reading scripture. It gives me a mental focal point to draw back to, a truth to rest in.
Tossing and turning night after night is a frustrating experience, but a friend reminded me recently that it is a process of training ourselves to take our thoughts captive. It does not happen overnight. It is a process that we can trust God to solidify in us if we are willing to stay the course.
How do you find rest?
What are the vices for rest that you use to distract yourself from the pressures of every day life? Have you experienced true rest from those things?
What thoughts do you take to sleep with you on a daily basis? Do you have scripture readily available to combat Satan’s schemes? Are you equipped to take your thoughts captive?