In the dark, after the last child gives up the bedtime battle and tired Mom finally lays her head on her soft, inviting pillow expecting the relief of quickly drifting off into restful slumber, she is jolted by the sound of a hostile voice.
It’s not one of her children, it’s not her husband. But it’s not a stranger either. It’s the voice of her thoughts.
Often we are our worst critics.
“I didn’t put that pile of laundry away.”
“I never did take the kids to the library like I promised.”
Then it turns to “You!”
“You forgot to make that payment!”
“You yelled too much today.”
“How is your child going to learn kindness when you can’t be kind with him!”
Often a mom receives the most judgement where she should find peace. On her pillow.
Does this happen to you?
When we are critical of ourselves, the silence of bedtime can ring loudest in our ears.
Our bedtime should be a time to reflect in peace and look forward with hope of new beginnings. Friends, this is why we need to have a default to go back to. The default setting on a computer is a point that we can return to for a fresh start after mistakes have been made.
Sometimes we have to be intentional and choose to hit the default setting.
Return to what you know to be true.
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalms 46:10
God is in control. In the midst of this unpredictable life, God is present and big and powerful. We may feel some crazy ups and downs, but God stays the same.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1
He is for our success as parents. He isn’t watching to see if we fail. God is beside us waiting to help us each moment that our strength is not enough.
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22
And the best thing is this: God loves us! He actually cares about all the little things that you tell yourself at the end of the day. He knows when you’re feeling worn and He will sustain you as you talk to Him at the end of the day.
These verses and many more are part of my bedtime default setting. It took me a while during my early years as a mother to realize that judging myself at bedtime was a nasty habit that I needed to stop. Somewhere along the way I learned that my self-criticism was interrupting God’s words of peace to me.
I was interrupting God to criticize myself. So I stopped. And I started making the choice to return to what I know is true.
It’s time to activate our default setting.
When your thoughts keep you awake with self-judgement. When that voice tells you everything you did wrong today. When hope is drown out by silent criticisms that say you spent as much time failing as you did succeeding.
Stop. It’s time.
When your mind continually replays the images and conversations that hurt you. The things that worry you or make you angry again just thinking about them. When you feel hope is outside your reach and that life is just too uncertain or unfair.
Now. It’s time to reset your mind.
When that place just below your rib cage where the mental and emotional becomes physical discomfort and pain – where anxiety burns you from the inside out. When your breaths become short and quick subconsciously as your mind races against your will to just find sleep.
Now! Be intentional. Force yourself to return to your default. You can and you really must.
Uncontrolled anger and fear are never constructive.
Can replaying an argument in our minds and adding to it what we wish we had said solve anything? It hasn’t yet!
Can judging ourselves change what is now in the past? No.
You’ll have a chance to make changes tomorrow. But for now you need to let it go and rest.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
Has worry ever solved a problem? No. Worry actually has a track record of making things worse. It robs us of peace. It robs us of our present. It multiplies itself.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of putting your foot down. Call me crazy, but I talk to myself like I talk to my kids, “That’s enough, Jenny. You don’t get to interrupt God with criticism. Go to sleep. We’ll talk about this in the morning.”
That’s what mornings are for anyway.
When you find that reruns of the failures, fears, and frustrations of the day are keeping you from sleep, return to what you know to be true. God is in control and He loves you. He will not let you fail.
There. Now the real bedtime battle is won. Go to sleep.
Maybe you have friends who struggle with self-criticism. Please consider sharing this article with them through email or Facebook.
I pray that God gives each of us comfort and rest.
Check out these other parenting articles by me:
Bringing Hope: Investing in our Families