Late Night Accusations


If you ever wake up in the middle of the night and use that time to listen to a little self-condemnation, this is a post for you. Now you mothers of young children are probably awakened in the middle of the night often, but you are so exhausted that you fall back asleep first chance. So maybe you don’t have time to lie awake and think about what a bad person you are. Nevertheless, you still might want to read this, just in case this happens in the future.
This is how it goes. You either can’t get to sleep right away, or you wake up in the night, and while you are trying to get to sleep, you are prompted to think about what a bad: daughter, wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandma, sister, or Christian you are.
This is a supreme waste of time for two reasons (besides the fact that it’s robbing you of much needed sleep). The first is because even if you confess your nebulous “sin” of being a bad daughter, wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandma, sister or Christian, the guilt does not go away. It stays. And the more you reflect on it, the more tangled up you become, and the more you confess, and the worse it gets. So it is totally unproductive. A truly productive time of reflection ends in repentance and forgiveness, relief and gratitude. This however, ends with you feeling rotten. If you have ever read The Pilgrim’s Progress, this is the Slough of Despond.

The second reason this is such a supreme waste of time is because it is simply not true. You are not listening to the Holy Spirit but to the accuser. The Holy Spirit is the comforter, not the accuser. Yes, the Spirit convicts us of sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come. But He does not do this by accusing us. Accusation is the language of the devil. So we must learn to distinguish between the two.
The best thing to do when you are assaulted with accusations (whether in the middle of the night or any other time) is to ignore them. The more you listen and engage, the more foot-hold you give the devil, and the more you feel beat up, not forgiven or restored. Simply say, “Not true. I am in Christ and in Him I am forgiven and made new.” Then change the subject.
Now some of you may be wondering if I am being too dismissive here. What if you are being truly convicted of a true thing? Certainly, if you yelled at the kids today, then confess it to God right away, and then confess it to the kids first thing in the morning (no sense in waking them up). This kind of confession is helpful and will take care of it. But false guilt can be confessed all day (and all night) and it never goes away. In fact, it snowballs.
So if you really can’t get to sleep, count your blessings, not your sins. You will sleep much better!

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7 thoughts on “Late Night Accusations

  1. Thanks, this is good! I was lying in bed… about to begin a bout of accusing! Wonderful timing!

  2. The Nancy Rule! At least that’s what some of us have been calling it for over a decade since you first wrote about it in Credenda: “No self-evaluation after 10 p.m.”

  3. Yes, Valerie! The Nancy Rule! I read about it a long time ago and taught it to my daughter.
    We both needed it and I am very thankful for it.

  4. Needed this! Thank you! I’m a young, tired mama and often find those midnight nursing times to be moments when failures from the day(s) prior assault me and leave me feeling hopeless and guilt-ridden. Learning to confess and move on rather than wallowing!

  5. Any chance that we could get a link to that Credenda article mentioned? I’d love to read it.

  6. Hi Nancy,
    What a great topic to post on. I definitely can relate to waking up in the night. The interesting thing is, for me, ignoring never works. It’s kind of like using shear will power to transform our hearts, it never happens no matter how hard we try. I have actually found the opposite of what you have to offer, to be very helpful. I used to carry a lot of shame and so, I’d wake in the night and it would all come tumbling out at once. All the ways I’ve ‘done everything wrong’ would be staring me in the face like demons. I used to lie there and confess it or ignore it. But, it kept happening. So, I ended up using a different approach. I actually realized that this was the most perfect opportunity for me to stop and listen to my self talk and welcome my thoughts. By doing this, I was able to clearly see the ways in which I was ‘missing the mark’. I could see my fear of man. I could see this scared little girl. I found holes in my heart that hAd not yet experienced the unconditional love of Christ. And I could lie there and have understanding that often, my anger, my gossiping or putting others down was just a way to protect myself b/c parts of me felt inadequate and often scared. I was able to bring Christ’s love into my holes and this time at night was the perfect opportunity that I completely would have missed out on had I ignored my thoughts or thought they were ‘bad’ and I that need to make them go away. Isn’t that really what this walk is about? Ending the crucifixion of self by allowing Love in. Dying to all the fAcades, masks, the false parts of ourselves that truly make us slaves and when we can do this, we ressurect, free . Knowing that we are totally unworthy and completely worthy all at once and that it has nothing to do with what I do or say or think!! It’s already finished!! How about diving straight into these thoughts and meeting God in the midst of them so we can truly be free,. What amazing teachers our middle of the night thoughts can be!!

  7. Thank you, Nancy! As one who has so often struggled with insomnia and guilt, this is so applicable and helpful.

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