How many times at the day’s end, as the sun sets and the darkness settles in, do you go from a place of busyness and coping to another place—one of loneliness, fear, accusing thoughts, thoughts of temptation or even torment?
Sometimes it seems the sunlight pushes away the tormenting thoughts. Part of that is the busyness of the day and the things that must be done that push the nagging negative thoughts to the back of the mind. However when darkness comes and life slows down, it’s as if the darkness of the sky wants to penetrate into the hearts and minds of the unguarded and unsuspecting.
I often felt darkness overwhelming me as I journeyed from addiction to freedom. At the end of the day, thoughts would press into my mind—thoughts of past guilt and shame….thoughts of temptation….thoughts of loneliness. There was often a deep aching and longing in my heart and I did not know what to do with all that tried to overwhelm me.
I hear the same cry from the heart of others who are on their journey. Although, this is not something unique to those in addiction or coming out of it, as others also struggle with “life” catching up with them at the end of a day. Is there an answer to help our struggle when the lights go out?
While I don’t believe we serve a God of “cookie cutter” answers for our struggles (you will hear me say this again and again as God deals with us very individually), what does remain the same for all of us is the truth of His Word. Yet even so, there are creative ways (just as Father God is creative) of how we can implement His Word into our lives. Let me share some ways that I found effective in facing these dark hours of the night.
Honesty. Sounds simple, but I used to somehow think I could hide my deepest feelings from my Father God. Silly, I know… thinking that the God who created me didn’t know my mind and heart already. In learning to just be honest with Him in what is the cry of my heart, I can ask Him to come and help me, instead of trying to hide from Him. What a difference this made in my relationship with my Heavenly Father. It developed an intimacy in my relationship with Him as my Father God. I wasn’t running and hiding, but inviting Him in to my situation and asking Him to help me with the things that were weighing upon me. I found that honesty not only helped me to develop a better relationship with my Father God, but it became a clear prayer for a real solution, while teaching me to trust Him to meet the needs of my life.
Practical Solutions. I learned that I sometimes needed help at night to keep my mind focused on things that were pure and right. Phil. 4:8 is a great Scripture about what things we are to keep our minds focused on (I wrote a blog post on it not too long ago). But how to apply it? This is where the creativity comes in. While this Scripture is for everyone as it is the Word of God, some people write notes to themselves–reminders placed on their mirror or taped to their headboard. Some people listen to an audio Bible. What I found to be a great help is to listen to worship music as I go to sleep. Sometimes, if I have gone through a particular time of struggle, I turn the music to “repeat” mode so if I wake up during the night, it is still playing. It even helped me further to not just have the music filling the room, but to use earphones. That may sound unique, but especially during difficult times, I find it “connects” me more with the music and I don’t disengage from it. I find myself worshipping my God and experiencing peace in His presence instead of dwelling on thoughts that would pull me down or cause me to give in to vain imaginations or negativity.
Daylight Living. As we learn, day by day, to live more in His truth during the daylight hours, we will experience more peace as the sun goes down. The more we live in freedom from addiction, guilt and shame, and the more we live without regrets (while being able to give the regrets we do have over to the Lord), the less negativity we carry with us when we lie down and rest at the end of the day.
This is all a learning and growing process—or as I like to call it, a journey. None of us will be “done” until our journey here on earth is over. But there is a place of rest. There is a place of peace. There is a place of freedom. There is a place you can come to on your journey, if you persevere, that when the sun sets and darkness comes, it will no longer be a time of dread but will be a time where you can rest in Him and enjoy His presence.
“I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8 (NIV)