When I look out the back window of our house, this is what I see every night. Guaranteed. This light is always there.
Apparently, it’s a docking light on Thorah Island. No matter what the weather – storm, fog, snow, rain – I can always see this beacon of light.
When I was a young Christian, a friend taught me, “ His Word, Last Word.” It was an encouragement to focus on God’s truth as I laid my head on my pillow and prepared to sleep each night. Since I moved to Beaverton, I’ve changed that bedtime mantra – as I lie in bed and look out the window, I see this constant light and I quietly remind myself, “every night, His light. “ It calms me. It helps me set my mind on things that are good and right, rather than allowing my head to spin with the details and concerns of the day. It doesn’t always work. There are nights that I toss and turn and worry about things that I can’t do anything about – but more nights than not, I can rest in the truth of God’s presence.
Many years ago, when I was preparing for childbirth, I started practising the Lamaze method, which uses the theory of conditioned response to minimize anxiety and reduce the pain of childbirth. The idea is for women to learn patterned breathing exercises and rely on external controls. One of the main external methods used in these classes was the idea of a focal point. I was taught to focus on an external object while using patterned breathing for different stages of labor.
My focal point was a little stuffed duck that I placed on a bookshelf across the room. I disciplined myself to focus on that duck and the anticipation of holding a newborn baby, rather than on the pain of childbirth. For me, it worked – I was able to give birth naturally to three children – and that experience of converging all my thoughts into one focus was very helpful to me.
I know that left alone, my mind wanders to places that result in anxiety. It’s easy for someone to say to me, “well, just stop it” but it’s not that easy. Fixing my eyes, setting my mind and walking firmly takes work. Sometimes, it’s a battle within.
However, at the end of a day, this beacon of light brings me back to Truth – I can close my eyes and sleep soundly.
Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:25