Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My 3:00 a.m. Worry Time

3:00 a.m. – my worry time. I have learned 3:00 a.m. is also known as the “Witching Hour” or “Devil’s Time.” Hmm, sounds about right.

I awake from a deep sleep with anxiety. Sometimes a worry will pop into my mind without me even thinking it. If not, I will find one. Then I lie in bed and worry, like a dog with a bone.

Prayer seems like a good way to handle it. If I just pray about whatever I am worrying about, the worry will go away. Right?

Wrong. When I pray, I find I am just worrying over the problem in prayer. I don’t turn it over to God. I tell Him what He ought to do and how He ought to do it. Along with a deadline. Please, Lord?

When I am done praying, I don’t feel any differently than when I spent the time worrying.

My daughter recently moved across the country. I am happy and excited for her! But, I am a mom. And now I find my daughter on my mind when I wake at 3:00 a.m.

When I realized my prayers of worry and control were doing neither her nor me any good, I remembered some words a friend told me after a fearful time in my life.

In 1995, my husband, John, was accidently injured while working as a lineman for a rural electric company. A hot wire came in contact with the guy wire John was tying off on the ground. 7200 volts of electricity went through his body. The ER doctor met me at the door of the emergency room and told me they were monitoring his heart and kidneys for damage. John had a couple of bad burns on his fingers where the electricity entered his body. Thankfully, he recovered without any lasting damage. But I didn’t handle it so well.

I could no longer believe that God would protect my loved ones. I struggled when John returned to work. Would he walk through the door that night? I talked to my friend, Betty Johnson, about my anger towards God and my questions of why He didn’t protect John.

And I will never forget what Betty said: “Gayle, God never promised complete protection for your loved ones, but He does promise to be with you through whatever happens in life.”

God will be with me. He will never leave me alone.

Because of this, I can pray, “I trust you, Lord.”

This has become my go-to prayer when I begin to worry. I whisper the words, “I trust you, Lord” when I feel fearful. It is what I pray when I want to control a person or a situation.

I have learned that worry and fear are about control – ironically, the outcomes over which I usually have no control. How silly I am to think things should happen the way I think they should. Or that people should act the way I think they should.

Now when I wake up at 3:00 a.m. with worries, I have a routine:

Capture the thought. Rather than letting my thoughts go like a runaway train, I capture the thought, the worry. I make myself aware of it. Then I ask,

Is it rational or irrational? Once again, this is awareness. If I realize the thought is irrational (out of proportion, making something catastrophic or making leaps in logic); I stop it. I tell myself it is irrational and I will no longer think about it.

Do I have any control or not? If the thought is rational, I ask myself if I have any control over the situation or not. If yes, I can decide on one action to take during the day and leave it at that. If not, then I pray

“I trust you, Lord.” I trust that God, in His infinite wisdom, has a plan. I trust that He is in control. Not me. Him. And no matter what happens, I will still trust in God’s love, kindness, and mercy.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5)

P.S.  This routine also works during the day!