DON’T WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING, BUT PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING. WITH THANKFUL HEARTS OFFER UP YOUR PRAYERS AND REQUESTS TO GOD. THEN, BECAUSE YOU BELONG TO CHRIST JESUS, GOD WILL BLESS YOU WITH PEACE THAT NO ONE CAN COMPLETELY UNDERSTAND. AND THIS PEACE WILL CONTROL THE WAY YOU THINK AND FEEL. PHILIPPIANS 4:6-7
My husband started using the Sleep Cycle app quite some time ago. It uses a wake up phase that ends at your desired alarm time and has this calming, crescendo music to rouse you from peaceful slumber. Of course, as a rebellious late-adopter of most "cool" fads, I continued to use my standard (jolting) phone alarm.
Recently, my husband straight-up asked me to use Sleep Cycle. I tend to rise a little earlier and while my non-swanky alarm was successful at getting me out of bed, it also awakened my (light sleeper) husband. He has few requests of me in life, so I agreed and downloaded the app.
Come to find out, the other feature of this app is it tracks your "sleep quality." That works great when it's in the 80-90% range and you really feel like you #nailedit on the sleep scoreboard; but, thanks to my prego-induced insomnia, many mornings I barely clip the 50% quality mark. That's fine, as I need to re-calibrate anyways -- you know, so that I'm more prepared for the upcoming season of sleep deprivation. Jesus was smart when he made our mama bodies.
This past Tuesday morning, I woke up feeling extra tired (which was confirmed by my 53% sleep quality number). On top of this, I was also in an unusual state of anxiousness. First, let me be clear in that stress is not my zone. I can do pressure ALL. DAY. LONG. But, stress is like a dark, graffiti-ridden neighborhood of my mind in which you don't want to live. I could tell I was stressed because I had "work dreams." You know, the kind where you dream about real life in your head and you feel like you put in an extra six hours of labor when you wake up. Where's the melatonin?
I went through the whole day Tuesday with this feeling of anxiety. Oh sure, I had my quiet time that morning and prayed about my weirdness and also mumbled some words of desperation throughout the (ultra-crazy) day...but I just felt off. It must've been the solar eclipse. It made folks whacky. Wednesday wasn't much better, unfortunately. I kind of wanted to eat people's faces off (I held back) and eat numerous no-bake cookies (didn't hold back).
Finally, Thursday morning came around -- early. Like, at 4 a.m. I was up. I decided I would grab my Bible and get in a little extra studying that morning; however, I just couldn't focus. After about 20 minutes of trying to dig for that Biblical nugget to chew on, I grabbed my journal and a pen. I thought, "Let's just get it all out, God." And so I began to scribble down what was weighing on my heart:
- "Regarding _____ ... I'm scared."
- "About _____ ... I don't see how this one is going iron flat. What a mess. "
- "When it comes to ______ ... seven weeks isn't long enough."
- "Seriously? This one is a broken record. It will get better, right?!"
Line after line I allowed the pungent and nervous ink flow out of my heart. But after each confession, the Lord would quietly pause me and prompt me to write one prolific phrase: I LAY IT DOWN.
And then, at 5:30 a.m., I was done. I closed the journal, took a deep breath, and started the day. And you know what? None of those things I wrote down have gotten better. I didn't have a Tiffany epiphany on any of those line items. But, what I did realize was this: regardless of what uncontrollable events happen in my life, I am to lay it down.
STRESS IS NOT CAUSED BY OTHER PEOPLE OR SITUATIONS; STRESS IS CAUSED BY MY REACTIONS TO THOSE PEOPLE OR SITUATIONS.
That morning (Thursday), after capturing my long string of worries, it was a good day -- a truly good day. Later on, I felt that tug inside asking, "What made today a good day?" I had to mull that over. What did make it a good day? What is good and is good truly good?
Here's the conclusion I felt the Lord impressed upon me: The reason Thursday was good was correlated to meaningful conversations. My first convo was with Jesus that morning. It wasn't lengthy (because I can only write so fast), but it was rich and real and meaningful. Every subsequent conversation I had post-5:30 a.m. was wrapped in an attitude of love and coupled with an understanding that I could not control other people's reactions, I could only control how I responded to my own. Make no mistake: that wasn't a me thing, that was a God thing.
I knew in my mind that if I had laid it down like I stated, I must resist the temptation of picking it back up again and fidgeting with it. When we change our minds, God can change our hearts. When I got into the office Thursday morning I jotted the words I lay it down at the top of my notebook, just as an anchor. It helped as my page became littered with the ongoing list of "to-dos" and "don't forgets," and "Well, that's all kinds of screwed up and I'm going to have to deal with that situation soon."
But when the day was over (literally over, because I forgot to bring my laptop charger to the last meeting of the day and my computer shut-down at 4:47 p.m.), I sensed His deep peace. And, in keeping with the tradition of all Thursday evenings, I went home (Chick-fil-A night!), talked with the hubby, settled on the living room floor amongst three wild boys snuggled up in their sleeping bags, and we watched Mary Poppins.
And then I woke up Friday morning with a sleep quality stat of 42%. Good thing it's the weekend -- I won't be setting my alarm.