I suspect many parents are familiar with the bemusing predicament whereupon they are awoken by their child, only to be informed of the apparent reality that the child has not yet fallen asleep. Since I am not a father, I do not know that feeling, but I have vivid memories of interrupting my father’s slumber when I was a young boy.
It is this winsome scenario that inspired the narrative in Eric Church’s new hit single “Monsters,” from his record Desperate Man, which was released last Friday. I have not yet encountered reason to believe Mr. Church is a Christian, though I do not know that he is not. Regardless, I found the lyrics to “Monsters” spattered with encouraging wisdom, if not Biblical truth.
They begin with a memory from his youth.
I killed my first monster when I was seven years old
He melted like butter in my bathroom’s sixty-watt bulb
Kept a three-cell MagLite from Daddy’s workshop drawer
Under my pillow and I’d pull it like a sword
Then the chorus brings the song’s theme, which echoes rhetoric akin to Ephesians 6:12 in its final line, positing that the “monsters” in life are not like ones depicted in Disney movies or fairy tales.
Anymore when a restless feelin’ keeps me up at night
Fallin’ on my knees is my new turnin’ on the light
I keep my faith intact, make sure my prayers are said
‘Cause I’ve learned that the monsters ain’t the ones beneath the bed
Indeed, these “monsters” are manifestations of sinners living in a fallen world, which Church lays out in the second verse.
The wolf hunts a hungry man and the devil a lonely heart
A minefield of bad decisions lay hidin’ in the dark
Greed stalks, sickness steals, and pride lays a wicked trap
You can’t avoid ’em all, no, you gotta trust me on that
Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” That sounds like a wicked trap to me. The final verse describes Church as a father, now seeking to comfort his fearful son.
Daddy, check my closet, leave on the bathroom light
I smile and say “All clear” when I tuck him in for the night
But Daddy, I’m still scared, can I sleep with you instead?
I kneel down beside my little man and I bow my head
Now an adult, I chuckle when recalling my decision to wake my father countless times when I could not sleep. What was he supposed to do, snap his fingers and grant me rest in an instant? Never once did he chastise me, nor exhibit the faintest sign of impatience. Rather, he did exactly what Church describes in his song. My father walked me back to my bed, knelt down, and prayed to our heavenly father. Without fail, I fell asleep every time.
Not long after I moved to New York City at 23 years old without a soul awaiting me, I laid in bed one night and marveled at the reality that the same boy who used to wake his dad nearly every night—even calling him at 2 a.m. from the kitchen landline at my friend’s parents’ house during sleepovers—was now comfortably sleeping alone in a two-bedroom apartment, shared with a stranger from whom I rented the spare room.
Christ calls his disciples to exhibit a childlike faith (Mt. 18:2-4) and my father embodied that as much or more than I did during the sleepless nights of my youth. I am thankful for his example and encourage others to follow it in kind.
This past summer, my sleep struggles returned, albeit wrought with different concerns. Still, my response is the same, conditioned from a young age. I kneel down beside my bed and bow my head.
When I first listened to “Monsters,” I cried. My heart overflowed with gratitude to the Lord for his provision and protection, and the blessing of my faithful earthly father. I sent a link to the song in a text to my dad, with a note of praise and appreciation. He responded, “Tears are flowing for sure.”
Tonight, I’ll be sure to include a word of thankfulness for Mr. Church’s song and its sweet reminder of God’s goodness and steadfast love for me, before I fall fast asleep.