Sometimes I struggle to fall asleep. I toss and turn, aware of my ill-timed alertness only when I notice that my eyes are staring into the darkness with peculiar intensity. I wonder how my arms, which normally are such useful and unobtrusive appendages during the day, can get in my own way as I attempt to find a comfortable position.
But it's my thoughts that undo me. In the silence, I spiral in my own head. I revisit a singular thought again and again, facing it head-on repeatedly without making any progress. Previously-buried thoughts resurface. Reminders of things I need to do punctuate the night with alarm -- bring those papers, send that email, sign that permission slip, finish writing that chapter, call that person -- and then they hover in my thoughts so tenuously that I fear I'll have no recollection of them in the morning.
During these nights, I rarely see issues with clarity or come to useful resolutions.
Yet, the spiral continues, growing increasingly non-sensible as my tiredness mounts.
How can you sleep, I wonder as I listen to my husband inhale and exhale beside me, when my thoughts are so loud?
Really, how am I not waking everyone?
We are told to take every thought captive to make it obedience to Christ (1 Corinthians10:5). Every thought. I keep a notebook by my bedside so I can jot down legitimate reminders and writing ideas without losing them to the night's lagging mental acuity. Once on paper, they're free to leave my mind.
As for those thoughts that tie me up in knots -- those nighttime thoughts that bypass the logical mind and sting the heart, thoughts that magnify mistakes and niggle at my sense of competence -- I know I must take them captive. Handcuff them, in essence. I disengage from them not by clearing my mind, but rather by filling my mind with something more productive: a reminder of God's goodness.
This is when I can close my weary eyes and sleep. That is, once I find a good place for those arms of mine.