7 August 2014

Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep

Gabe & Emily“Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.” -Fyodor Dostoevsky

Most of my adolescent and adult life I’ve suffered from severe sleep issues.  I’ve sometimes felt like a human guinea pig as doctors have tried to determine the exact reason for my condition, and despite all the tests and evaluations, no one has been able to pinpoint a cause, and more importantly, a solution to the problem.  Because of this, I frequently find myself lying wide-awake in bed, my thoughts slowly spiraling downward into a frothy mix of reflection on the day past, imaginations of the coming day, and anxiety that I won’t be able to fall asleep.  There are many old remedies suggested for sleep issues, with the most common being to “count sheep” until you fall asleep.  Despite trying this tactic, it has never worked for me.  However, one thing that I often find does help is counting the things I’m thankful for each day, or as one might say it, counting my blessings instead of sheep.

A couple of months ago I was able to be at and involved with the marriage of the two goofballs in the picture above.  With the past few years of life having thrown some curve balls at my wife and I, I’ve found myself frequently counting my blessings rather than my tears, in an effort to remember, like the popular scripture song says, that, “You give and take away, you give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be Your name.”  One of the blessings I have counted more often of late, is the 18+ years of youth and camp work I’ve been involved with, and especially all of the kids that I have had the privilege of watching grow up into adults and begin their own lives.

G&E3A particular happiness has been watching so many of those kids meet at our camps, get married, and start families of their own.  As I watched this particular couple, glowing with innocence and beaming with joy, walking down the aisle as newly crowned husband and wife, I waxed nostalgic, remembering them both as younger, smaller children.  Then, looking up and around the church building, I realized I was surrounded by all of the faces I had watched grow up over the years, many of whom had already taken this same walk down the aisle and were holding their own children, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude, and felt an overwhelming sense of peace and happiness to have been a part of so many of these blessed events. God is always breaking through even our deepest sadness with light and joy – we just have to find the courage to open our eyes, look up, and see it.   As always, it’s all in the scriptures, where we are constantly reminded that the reason we often experience life as grievous is that we are all in exile here, in Babylon, yearning for Zion and the Kingdom of Heaven, and when we weep, it’s because there is a longing there – an ache that no earthly thing can fill, because it is echoing something in Paradise, and will only find it’s fulfillment in God. However, we also know that those who sow in tears, will reap with shouts of joy. (Psalm 126) It is at times like the weddings or graduations of these beloved kids that I can see just a glimpse of that Psalm coming true, and it is enough.

Growing up, every year at Christmas my mom and I would watch the movie classic, “White Christmas”, a tradition we have continued to this present day.  During one particularly beautiful scene in the movie, when two of the characters find themselves unable to sleep, Bing Crosby’s character croons out in his deep and captivating baritone voice, the very soft and moving Irving Berlin tune, “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep”.  I still listen to that song when I have trouble sleeping, and it always reminds me of what’s most important in this life.  So, if any of you find yourselves in a rut, bedraggled and beat up by life and unable to sleep, try counting your blessings instead of sheep, and perhaps try listening to a little Irving Berlin. 🙂  I’ll leave you all with that tune, and the happy reminder that, as Albus Dumbledore puts it,

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep

by Irving Berlin

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep
Counting my blessings

When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep
Counting my blessings

I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds

If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep
Counting your blessings



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Posted 7 August, 2014 by Luke Beecham in category "General

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