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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

How Do You Banish Mental Clutter So You Can Sleep?

A brief update on baby Jane, a very special offer, and help for closing those mental “browser windows” that keep you awake at night!

Coming next week: Thoughts on finding joy with a first-ever post by my husband Mike.

[Plus a special welcome to dozens of you joining us here on the Ridge for the first time following the second women’s retreat at Camp Berea last weekend!]

How often do you lie awake, spinning in your sheets like a rotisserie chicken, your brain as cluttered as an open browser with too many pages displayed?

You’re desperate for a decent night’s rest, but you just Can’t. Shut. Down. Your body has done a full day’s work, punched the time clock, and is ready to turn in for the night, but your brain boss insists you still have work to do and problems to solve.

You stare at the back of your eyelids, but instead of nocturnal nothingness you’re subjected to an endless parade of images opening like file folders labeled Not Done, Never Enough, and NOW.

A couple of years back, my new online home opened its doors after months of construction from the foundation up. My longtime domain name stayed the same but was removed from an old web platform and attached to a new one. So simple! Out with the old place with its dusty floors and outdated pictures on the walls and in with the new.

Only one problem. To visitors my new home looked fresh, but when I tried to visit myself, my computer browser insisted on defaulting to my old, archived site. Apparently Mac likes to save himself effort, so he loads outdated content and previously downloaded images. While I was trying to present a new face to the world, Mac kept reminding me of my “old self” instead.

The remedy? Something called “cleaning the cache.” Simple enough on a computer.

But how do you clean the cache of your life when all those mental browser windows stubbornly insist on displaying past history?

The page open to self-doubt that’s not, ahem, a secure location.

The window framing chronic worry that’s infected with malware.

The images you accessed in weak moments that you can’t un-see.

It’s all old history, so why do our brain-browsers insist on displaying the past when we’re in a new, better place now?

Biola University professor J.P Moreland explains that we all have cells in the heart muscle and the brain called neurons. When they fire as a group, he writes, “they wire together and form a network, or ‘groove,’ which can become deeper and deeper. So negative thoughts literally reshape the brain structure to form negative neural patterns.

The solution is to present my brain to God as an instrument of righteousness by recognizing negative self-talk and turning away from it, while moving toward something that takes my attention in a better direction. Analysts have done brain scans showing that, after time, this can shift your default condition back to joy and peace rather than negativity, anxiety, and depression.”

Is this a simple process, a fix as quick as cleaning the cached history on your computer?

My husband, Mike, who is doing a guest post for us next week, has this to say:

“I think cleaning out our mental cache of the way we’ve always seen ourselves starts with literally being grateful for all those ‘open pages’. Scripture tells us to be thankful in all circumstances, and that includes thanking God for our personal history and our weaknesses. We have a new identity in Christ, and when our brains default to our old fears, it’s a powerful reminder of our dependence on him.”

What does it mean to be thankful for our weaknesses? How can we use our fears and failures as triggers for gratitude? If we click on our new “site” often enough it will become the default location. But does that mean we will never open the old pages again?

We’ll continue this conversation next week with further thoughts from Mike.


A PERSONAL UPDATE: I am so grateful to the hundreds of you who are praying for our newborn granddaughter, Jane, who turns six weeks old at Boston Children’s Hospital tomorrow. A very rare situation developed after her cardiac surgery on August 16, but her team is cautiously optimistic about her progress. They are consulting with CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia).


AND A SPECIAL OFFER: Guess what I discovered yesterday thanks to the keen eyes of my thoughtful writer-friend Daphne? My new book Life is Sweet, Y’all does not release until March 2022, but you can pre-order the hardcover from for only $10.99! (Regular price at release will be $14.99). This special is only available through 9/27.

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