Have you ever heard someone tell you that the secret of a happy marriage is to never go to bed angry? It’s good advice. The logical addition to it is that you should stay up and fight – well, maybe not fight, but at least do something about it. Welcome to Day 22 of 30 Days to Forgiveness!
An argument just before bedtime is really a recipe for a rotten night’s sleep, which I’m sure you already know. If you go to sleep seething with anger or crying in frustration, your subconscious is going to have all sorts of unpleasant stuff to play with during your dreams.
Before going to sleep at night, forgive everyone for everything.
That’s easy to say, isn’t it?
Well, it’s the recipe for a great night’s sleep.
You will sleep better and your subconscious will be dialed into love and forgiveness. That will help strengthen your resolve and your new habit of forgiveness.
So just how do we go about doing this?
Here’s one little trick that we have at our home – there’s a list of topics that are never allowed to be discussed within the first or last hour of the morning. In other words, don’t get into politics, dig around on your ex’s Facebook page, make a snarky remark about how you’d pay less taxes if your spouse wouldn’t lose receipts (cough, cough, I promise to get more organized this year). It doesn’t mean you never talk about these things, but just not as the day is beginning or ending.
So what do you do as the day ends?
Before you go to bed, or while you’re lying there, waiting to go to sleep, think about your day and explore how you feel.
If you find yourself angry, or even annoyed about something, do what you can to make your peace with it.
Think about the positive aspects of what’s happened, or even in your life in general. It’s possible that what you’re angry about probably wasn’t as earth-shatteringly important as you initially thought. Do what you can to make your peace with it and find your joy and happiness before you go to sleep.
If you’re having a hard time letting go, try writing a letter about it. You aren’t going to sleep anyway, so get out of bed and grab some paper or open up your computer. Address your letter to the person you’re angry with and pour out your heart. You don’t have to actually send it or share it and in many cases you probably shouldn’t. In my experience, anything you write while furiously angry should be kept private!
The simple act of putting it all down on paper is often enough to lighten your burden. It will also help you let go of your anger and make your peace.
In the last post, I wrote about the three types of prayer. How would these work in a situation like this, when it’s time for bed and you are stomping mad?
Vocal prayer is probably the one where you’ll start. If you think you’re going to surprise God with your anger and desire for vengeance, guess again. Read Psalm 94 and realize that you probably have nothing on the fury and righteous indignation of the Psalmist! David ends this angry prayer with a firm statement that God will destroy his enemies. Eeek!
Seriously, you won’t upset God with your emotions, not even if you’re angry at God. Trust me on this one – I am still blessed and loved by Him and there was a time in my life when I literally prayed “I hate you! When I die, I’m going to get to Heaven one way or another and KICK you! Stop wrecking my life.” (Okay, that’s another post all together, isn’t it?)
Vocal prayer can help you get those feelings out. Cry, scream, fall on your face – I’ve done all of these.
And then, once you’re ready for it, pull out Scripture that speaks to where you’re at and spend some time in meditative prayer. Focus on that and work on bringing your anger under control. As I said, work through the Psalms. Just make sure that you read the entire Psalm you’ve selected instead of settling in on the angry parts that are often found at the beginning.
If you’ve calmed your mind, you may be ready to spend some time quietly enjoying God’s love.
As I said, it’s not as though you were going to sleep anyway!
A few hours of restful sleep without those negative thoughts floating around in your head is better than eight hours of tossing and turning, seething and stewing. And that will set you up for a much better day when you wake up.
Give it a try and see if you don’t become a much happier and more pleasant person when you start to refuse to go to sleep angry.