We have friends who own some acreage with a small house and barn which they use for family retreats and hunting. We got a chance to stay overnight there this week–ostensibly as part of our eldest’s birthday celebration, but especially just to get some rest and relaxation as a family. Jeremy took Jesse fishing, the kids went on four-wheeler rides with daddy and explored the barn hay loft, and I spent the majority of the time doing nothing but reading a novel while keeping an eye on Lydia.
It was rather divine, but not as easy as you might think. A passage in my book made me laugh and I read it to Jeremy. It was describing a stroke patient during recovery and said, “it isn’t easy for anyone being bed-bound weeks on end, but for someone like him, with no hobbies and no talent whatsoever for relaxing, it was torture.”
“…no talent whatsoever for relaxing…”
That is so me. Rest is not something that comes naturally for me–it’s ridiculous to say it, but rest is hard work. I have to mentally gear up for it, physically prepare, must have tools and supports and crutches in place, and then, finally, for a few moments I balance in that strange and unatural state, and then quickly revert back to the nearest task at hand, panting with the effort it took to rest.
That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but sometimes we need a cartoon to help us see the truth, right?
I’ve seen growth in my ability to rest in the last few years. There was a time when I would have packed an entire bag of books and activities to keep me busy during even just one day of something that was meant to be ‘vacation’. I’m also apt to put a really big project on the calendar before a scheduled time of rest so I can feel like I earned the time off.
This time, all I did before we left was make a pile of food in advance (I didn’t even leave the house clean! Hooray! This is progress, people!) and all I packed was journal, Bible, and one novel.
And I was able to step out of my routine and all the to-dos I have constantly simmering in my mind, and just do practically nothing for a whole day and a half. Without twitching.
I think it’s because I’ve begun to see how valuable rest is. I’ve been through some seasons in my mothering and business lately that have me desperate for rest–I no longer argue that I don’t need a break. Another contributing factor to my growing appreciation for rest is having wise people like Emily Freeman who have gently informed me that rest is a gift.
At any rate, I held still long enough this week so that everything stopped spinning, and that’s when I realized why it’s so important for someone like me to make rest a priority.
Because when we slow down enough, we eventually find the pace our souls were made for. Our souls breathe a deep, contented sigh, and we remember that we weren’t created simply for our ability to produce. That He’s called us to so much less than our to do list. He made us simply to worship. To be still and know that He is God.
Rest re-calibrates our souls.
Then, even when we have to jump back into real life (which we have to do because we live in a broken world, hello) our soul can still move at the slower rate of a worshipper, lending the sweetness of rest even to the longest Saturday Morning Chore List In The History Of Mankind.
So, that’s what I did this week, in moments in between chapters in my novel. I held still long enough to remember how to just be and not constantly do.
If you struggle to slow down enough for your soul to breath, here’s some hints for you…
- Study the theology of rest. Emily Freeman is a great place to start. So is Genesis. Reread the story of creation and notice that God owns and rules everything–He didn’t have to earn the rest He embraced on the Sabbath. Neither do we–work and rest are both gifts from our Father, not commodities we buy or earn.
- Find active ways to rest. Personally, I cannot sit still and do nothing. I seriously think I would die. So, I do stuff I love to do, but that doesn’t produce anything. Taking a walk. Painting or drawing. Writing words I don’t ever plan to publish. That’s my version of nothing. And–it works.
- Choose a good book. I’m loving The Modern Mrs. Darcy’s book matchmaking posts. Her blog is helping me choose good reads from my local library.
- Get out of your habitat. I know how hard this is–we only were able to get away this week because of the generosity of friends. But even if you’re stuck home on a tight budget, you can still create a pace or space that is different than your normal daily grind, and it can help you rest. At home, my productive spaces are the kitchen and office areas. Often all I have to do to find soul rest is to step outside onto the porch, or slip into my bedroom for a few minutes–places I don’t normally produce anything–and I remember that I am more than just what I can tick off a list.
- Schedule Rest. This is a new thing for me, but I’m starting to actually let myself put ‘do nothing’ on the calendar on the odd Saturday afternoon when the stars align and my baby is napping and my big kids are playing happily outside and the house is relatively clean and everyone has clean underwear to wear to Church tomorrow so I don’t technically have to do laundry, I’m planning on just sitting on my porch and reading a novel. (Right after I finish this post.)
Rest is a gift we can’t afford to neglect. I’m putting it on my list to get better at this. 😉
(Do you struggle to rest, or is it just me? How to do you find or create rest in your day or week? Why do you believe in rest?)