I have a rule with my wife. No talking about work before bed. Now, work for my wife and I is complicated. We work with each other. Our work is our church. Our work is where our closest friends are. And the main problem for me is that, work talk gets me worked up! It’s like caffeine for me. I cant have coffee 4 hours before I go to sleep. It will keep me up. I can’t talk about work 4 hours before bed, because it will keep me up! So my general rule is no work talk at night! None!
Because if I do, worry comes. Anxiety comes. I get the broken record in my mind of the things I can’t control. The things I wish I could control but can’t. I start to fill in the blanks of motivation in other people. But the Bible says we barely understand our own motivation let alone someone else’s. Worry. Fear. Lack of sleep. This is all the manifestation of no peace. I’ve been in a stressful season where it’s real easy for me to slip down that road.
I’ve been in the middle of one of those seasons. The seasons where my peace is hanging by a thread. It was a hard season. We are launching a new online campus. Which has many facets and nuances to it. We are growing. So our staff is shifting so there are new norms to establish. On top of that I was finishing a new book and trying to launch a new tour for the spring. Lots. Of. Pressure.
But in all of the difficult situations I’ve faced as a christian this is one where I felt the Lord’s peace over me like never before. I felt pressure and frustration, but I slept. I felt anger and sadness, but I kept smiling with my kids.
Here’s the thing, in John 16 Jesus says that in him we have peace. In him. And the context of what he is talking about is the stress and pressure that is coming to the disciples. They will be scattered and persecuted.
So the peace that Jesus is talking about is not based on peaceful situations. Because anyone can have peace when their bank account is full. Anyone can have peace when they’re being promoted at work. But the different peace. The Jesus-peace is a piece that is in the midst of tribulation. Jesus didn’t promise us heaven on earth he promised us peace in the tribulation. This is the peace that surpasses all understanding. It doesn’t make sense! But it screams of the power and fruit of Jesus in our lives.
Here is the practicality of living with peace in our lives. Prayer is needed. Breakthrough is needed. But sometimes we just need some new habits to spare ourselves hours of worry and sleepless nights.
#1 – Work on the things you have control over and give the rest to God.
You can’t control politics. You can’t control your children. You can’t control your boss or your leaky roof. But you can control your thought life. You can control being vulnerable with someone. You can control your work ethic and your prayer life. You can control time management. List out your stressors and categorize them into ones you can control and ones you can’t. When you find you mind wandering into the can’t-control category. Stop yourself. And choose to think about something else.
#2 – Visualize putting your burdens on God’s shoulders.
This one may feel weird but its been helpful for me! But take a minute by yourself. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Visualize the burdens you are feeling as a weight on your shoulders. Then visualize Jesus standing in front of you. Visualize taking the weight off of your shoulders and putting them on His. He is strong and waiting to take your burdens. You just need to choose to hand them over!
#3 – Distract yourself.
Now, I’m not advocating avoiding your problems or burying your emotions. But when you are facing the broken record player of conversations or opinions in your mind, a little healthy distraction would help give your body and mind a rest. So go work out. Or go on a walk.
I read a fiction book before bed. It helps we to be distracted by someone else’s story before bed. It helps end my cycle of unhelpful thought patterns. You may find, in time, that a healthy distraction from overwhelming problems will help you develop a bit more control over your thought life.