Think on Such Things...
Last night something happened to me that, thankfully, rarely does... After a couple of hours of fitful sleep I woke up around 3 am and could not get back to sleep. As a rule I don't get a lot of sleep, but that is usually due to working into the wee small hours and then the rest of the world expecting me to function within the usual hours of 9-5. But normally when my head hits the pillow I sleep the sleep of, if not the just, then the sleep of the just exhausted...
I don't know what caused last night's anomally... whether it is a side effect of the flu jab I had a few days ago, another bug at work on me, or some sub-conscious anxiety (although the last is very unlikely as most of my anxieties are very conscious...) But no matter what I did I couldn't get back to sleep for ages... the time dragged and my mind was filled with all the things that I really didn't want to think about in the middle of the night... various pieces of work I've got to do... pastoral issues... health problems... financial pressures... Robbie William's annoyingly memorable "Bodies..." Eventually my tossing and turning woke my wife, who, whilst she is normally grace personified, is usually not to be trifled with in the middle of the night. I suggested that I would go to the spare room, but, as we, in a fit of not atypical incompetence managed to run out of oil last night, she allowed me to stay in the marital bed... she even allowed me to turn the light on to read, after she had donned one of the masks that we brought back from some transatlantic flight or other.
I read two things... first a large portion of one of the books I'm reading at the moment Alex Boese's "Elephants on Acid" - which records some totally bizarre scientific experiments. The section that I read last night included an experiment where participants were asked to verbalise their thoughts... then after a period of time were asked to try to avoid thinking about a white bear, and ring a bell every time they did so... Of course, despite a white bear never having entered their thoughts before, after having been instructed not to think of such a thing, they could think of little else and were soon ringing the bell like Quasimodo on speed.
Conclusion of experiment: Simply try to suppress oppressive thoughts and they will overwhelm you.
Then I turned to my Bible and read:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:6-9 (ANIV)
I would love to say piously that I then switched the light out and drifted off into a deep and peaceful sleep after pondering all that is noble, right, pure, lovely admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.
But I didn't... exhausted I drifted back into a fitful sleep with dreams of white bears moving to a background soundtrack of Robbie Williams "Bodies"!!!!