I struggle with two temptations as I write this blog.
The first is to be too vulnerable. I sometimes write about my struggles, mistakes, feelings and hopes, but I try not to overdo it. This blog wouldn’t be much fun to read if it were awkwardly personal. It would be even less fun to write.
Today is a good day for me to be personal.
After two months of working the overnight shift at my job, I revert to my old schedule today. I’ll be working during the day and sleeping at night like an ordinary person.
Starting today, I’ll no longer work peacefully through the night. I’ll no longer enjoy a structured schedule with straightforward responsibilities. I’ll no longer glance out the windows at starry skies and spectacular sunrises.
Starting today, I’ll be cringing as my coworkers lose their tempers and shout at the gentlemen with whom we work. I’ll be coming home exhausted and stressed from complicated, unpredictable workdays. I’ll be trying to stay awake through dull, dreary afternoons.
Working the overnight shift was wonderful, and it’s hard to return to my old schedule.
This time, however, things are different.
During the two months I worked the overnight shift, God put my life in order. My financial situation became much more stable. I picked up some healthy habits, such as eating more vegetables and spending more time reading. I made great progress on my personal projects—repairing and renovating this blog, for example.
I also learned some invaluable lessons. Well, maybe learned isn’t quite the right word. I finally understood some invaluable lessons.
It’s easy to learn the rules of tennis, but becoming a tennis champion takes experience. In the same way, some lessons are easy to learn but difficult to practice. Understanding such lessons can be hard. My time working the overnight shift made it a little easier.
I’m learning to spend my time intentionally, not aimlessly. I’m praying more consistent, meaningful prayers. I’m not overcommitting myself—at least, not as much.
In the past few years, I’ve struggled with an obsessive-compulsive tendency to overthink and overanalyze everything. I’ve also suffered from depression, anxiety and other dreadful things. My attempts to understand, classify, organize and control my feelings have failed. Depression does not listen to reason.
I won’t go into all the details, but my experiences working the overnight shift helped me to understand—not merely to know, but to understand—something fundamentally important: What matters isn’t how I think or what I feel, but what I do.
Instead of overthinking everything, I can focus on doing whatever needs to be done. Instead of getting tangled up in emotions, moods, impulses and all the rest of that wibbly-wobbly, feely-weely stuff, I can accept that it’s mostly beyond my control.
I’m finally beginning to understand these simple lessons, and they’re making all the difference in the world.
Today will be hard. I know that, but I feel oddly hopeful. God has brought me this far, right?
Now then, I’d better drink more coffee. It’s going to be a long day.