For Those With No Natural Talent for Rest

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?)

 

 

 

14 responses to “For Those With No Natural Talent for Rest”

  1. Brittany @ Equipping Godly Women Avatar

    I totally get this! I am SO bad at resting! I avoid it whenever possible. Trying to do better, but resting is hard work!!

    1. Trina Avatar

      Yes, Brittany–someone else who gets it! LOL It is HARD, but I do find with practice it gets easier! Press on!

  2. Bethany Avatar
    Bethany

    Thank you so much for writing this post Trina! What a great reminder, what a refreshing article. I am so happy that you were able to “do nothing” with your family for a day or two!

    1. Trina Avatar

      You’re so welcome, Bethany. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. sara Avatar

    This is so true! Between cooking all scratch meals for more self sustainability, to my kids club sports to Girl Scouts, PTA, and now the writing and research for this blog that is in the works( getting up hours before my kids every morning) etc…. I feel there is no time for rest. I needed to read this (: I would have to say hiking is my “rest” because I am enjoying time with my family, absorbing the beauty around me and my mind isn’t cluttered. Thank you for this post and all suggestions!

    1. Trina Avatar

      Sara, I love the hiking idea! It’s so important to realize what gives you rest–even if it ‘looks’ like activity. Yesterday I took my kids to the park on a whim and realized that doing something spontaneous is restful to me because it kinda confuses my agenda and tricks me into rest. 😉 Nature is for sure a great place to find soul rest.

  4. Joanna Aislinn Avatar

    Oh. Wow. A post written especially for me, Trina? Thank you!

    I know I’m not alone in this, but it is nice to read about others who deal in this issue as well. I’m so much of a ‘doer’–physically and mentally–that I don’t even like going to bed. I feel like sleep can be used so much more productively, lol. Luckily, I function quite well on six hours of sleep.

    I’m learning too. My biggest accomplishments are: (1) STOPPING when I say so; (2) completing projects in pieces vs. obsessing until they’re done.

    Finally, relaxing can involve folding socks while watching a show on demand. I need something to do with my hands! And iPads make it so much easier to keep the mind and hands occupied while in a car with hubby, driving somewhere for downtime.

    Oh my, I could just keep going on and on and on…

    Thanx again! Be blessed!

    1. Trina Avatar

      Yes, just especially for you, Joanna! 😉 Thanks for sharing how you rest. We need to celebrate rest as much (maybe more!) than accomplishments, so it’s great to share our progress with each other.

  5. Lisa Avatar

    I come from a family of do-ers that rarely slow down. I rate myself each day by how much I’ve been able to cross off my to-do list. I often feel guilty/lazy when I rest. Like I don’t deserve it. Rest is for others – not me. When I try to rest I can start to feel panicky. So I too need something productive to do in my hands when I rest. For about 2 years now I have gone to bed an hour early each night to read. That is HUGE progress for me. Now I so look forward to the end of the day to read. And reading feels productive now, instead of only like a luxury that I can’t do until “everything else is done.” Rest. It’s ridiculous how hard it can be and how many emotions can be tied up in it for some of us! I’m sure many people out there think we are nuts! 🙂

    1. Trina Avatar

      Lisa, I think there are more of ‘us’ than we think–those who are task oriented to an unhealthy extreme. And, yeah– there are SO many emotions when I sit down and analyze it! I’m learning just to let go of all the reasons and focus on the truth–Jesus paid it all. That truth somehow, miraculously affects even my most mundane daily to do list.

  6. Rachel Avatar

    I am terrible at resting. My husband made me sit in bed and read yesterday after I’d commented how sore my 8 month pregnant body was after coaching all day. You’d think I’d be able to figure it out on my own but thankfully God gave me a man who recognizes it for me!!!

    1. Trina Avatar

      I’ve learned a lot about rest from my husband, too, Rachel. In fact, his whole family has a very balanced approach to work and rest. They are super diligent and work hard–but they also know when it’s time to sit on the couch and read a good book! It has helped me to hang out with people who value rest and make space for it in there lives. I need to SEE it, you know?

  7. Erin Avatar
    Erin

    It’s been forever since I commented on a post, but I just had to chime in on this one. :]

    If my husband had to share one of his biggest pet peeves concerning me, it would probably be my inability to rest. He often has to tell me to go put my jammies on at the end of the day and sit down and RELAX! Not an easy thing for me to do. To my shame actually, when I do finally sit down to take a break (at any point in the day), I usually fall asleep. Can you tell I’m no good at relaxing? :]

    It’s tough being a homemaker and always feeling that there’s one more thing that needs to get done in the day, but I’ve started (as a way to bless my husband) making an effort to finish my “work day” by 6 pm or so. This is tough on a varying schedule when we sometimes don’t eat supper until 8pm, but as much as I’m able I try to have most major work done by the early evening hours.

    My relaxation of choice usually involves a stack of books, magazines or seed catalogs, but will often inlcude catching up with my favorite blogs and Instagram pages. When the mood strikes me, I’ll do something creative, like card-making or sewing.

    In my increased times of rest, I am finding more peace in my spirit and a fresh boost to tackle the next day’s tasks. God doesn’t require that I earn His love by finishing my to-do list, but rather longs for me to sit and enjoy His presence and the good gifts He’s given me.

    1. Trina Avatar

      Erin! So good to hear from you again!

      I’m with you–been working on just quitting the to-do list after dinner–it’s so hard! but when we realize the work will never all get done, and choose to trust that it’s not the end of the world, but rather just how this broken world runs, I think it becomes easier over time.

      You are so right that rest actually equips us to work better! Sometimes I dangle that thought in front of myself to motivate me to rest. 😉

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