In many ways, it made perfect sense. You’ve probably heard the unlikely inspiration that resolved my insomnia—the email with the urban legend where New York garbage workers are on strike and a frustrated homeowner gift-wraps his garbage, places it in the backseat of his car which he parks, windows down, in front of a store a few blocks away.
It’s like the best part of a movie mystery – the bad guy ironically gets stiffed from his greed by clever deceit and the good guy (with whom most of us prefer to identify) gets to watch the set-up unfold as he cleverly gets rid of his very stinky problem.
Laughing at the unlikelihood of a New York thief only stealing the gift-wrap-disguised garbage and seeing the tail light blinking in the distance as he drove off with the unlocked car and the package, I moved the email to the “trash.” Ding! It was gone.
I couldn’t help but reflect how nice it would be if life’s garbage could be erased that simply. Going beyond the digital definition of garbage (data which is no longer useful, but which is clogging up storage or memory) I was jolted with the truth about what was keeping me awake. Garbage. Unproductive, time-wasting, dead, putrid, non-life-giving thoughts.
Granted, I had a lot to think about, including family and friends’ situations, work pressures, economic fears and financial concerns. But worrying about a host of things wasn’t getting anything accomplished, and it could, I knew, ruin my health. I could feel it. I used to be able to stay up overnight, or several nights, to complete a project and be raring to go the next day with little or no sleep, but lately, I’ve noticed something odd. The less sleep I get, the more weight I gain, the more aches and pains I feel, and the slower I move. It was taking me days to recover from a single all-nighter. I was forced to see the results of wanting to fix everything and everyone weighing on my heart.
The chance I begged for, to conquer the all night tossing and turning without pills came with the how-to-get-rid-of-your-garbage email.
The leftovers of my life, like stockpiled garbage, were not very attractive. Even if I hid food garbage in a clever cover up like the chicken trash bins, or wrapped my mental and emotional stuff in a new outfit and a fake smile – it was all still trash.
Yech. I was actually hoarding every rotting worry, storing them like hundreds of useless emails, instead of properly disposing of them.
Not any more.
I grabbed the pen and pad for journaling that’s kept beside my bed, listing the concerns that had kept me awake. Three lines for columns next to the list of problems automatically filled the page. I didn’t have to write the headers, as goal planning had become automatic:
Column one—The Worry
Column two—WICD (What I can do about it,)
Column three—Who I could contact for assistance
My husband mumbled in semi-sleep at my chuckles over the lopsided list. More than 30 concerns, worries and fears filled the first column, but only one word answered the query of what I, personally, could DO about them – nothing.
Lying awake had never yet inspired a solution, which brought me to the third column where I wrote in God for the contact. The mind-picture was complete. Each individual all-nighter of worry, fear, or concern was now re-gift-wrapped, without the deceptive bow – instead, a transparent covering.
God could see the contents. Disguising them was useless. And I didn’t have to “trick” God to “steal” the unwanted parcel. The hands of God were extended eagerly, so in them I placed my worries saying, “Here – I think these are yours.” Sighing in relief, I felt the reality of the verse in Isaiah that says,
Don’t panic. I am with you. (41:10)
Days, weeks, and months later, the outcome column developed a pattern as it filled with details of what happened regarding each sleep-robbing fear. Over 90% of the time the recording was identical: NH – never happened. The rest had been resolved; some with the fresh perspective of a good night’s sleep and an attitude change, and others in unique ways, that only God could have done.
Even though life still has stress (and produces garbage) when I delete them from my mind by letting God deal with them a new thing happens. A confidence that the issues are being handled gives me rest.
Turns out my Worry-List is a lot shorter these days, and remarkably, I am getting more done—and sleeping better.
I can lay down with peace and rest. The difference: like the Psalm says, At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep, For you, GOD, have put my life back together….
And, I might add, taken my garbage out!