Disclaimer: I am the last person on earth that should be writing anything about rest. It’s one of my greatest struggles. Maybe you can relate? I felt God nudging me to share on this topic so hopefully one of you will read a word you need today.
I was fortunate enough to take a “stay-at-home” vacation this past week, which has become somewhat of a tradition for my husband and I the week of Thanksgiving. There’s something so nice about having a few days of down time with our little family before December hits and we become ships passing in the night.
One of the things I’m learning right now is to not feel guilty about needing rest. For too long I had the mindset of “If I go, go, go, I’ll be more productive, more successful, people will like me, God will be happy, etc.”. I’ve read all the books about how NOT to feel this way, but it has taken me actually being confident in who I am to know that it. is. okay. to. rest. Not only is it okay, but it’s necessary.
How can we invest in rest without feeling guilty about it? Many of us have responsibilities that involve caring for and providing for others in various ways, whether that be your children and family members, a population of people you serve at work, a product or service you provide, and so much more. If we aren’t caring for ourselves, we can’t expect to be at our best when others need us.
At church, my co-workers and I talk about how seasons of busyness come and go throughout the year, and we can usually pinpoint when those will be simply by looking at the calendar. It’s easy to point out times throughout the year when it would be most convenient for me to rest and refuel.
We see countless examples of rest in the Bible. We are reminded that rest has purpose, value and worth. In fact, we see Jesus doing something pretty radical, when He is in demand the most, and when there are crowds of people waiting to spend time with Him, He retreats, even in the midst of a hectic moment. He recognizes how He is feeling and acknowledges that He needs to spend time with His Father. So…..if Jesus didn’t feel guilty about needing rest, why should we?!
A few years ago, I was at church preparing to lead our women’s conference (BloomConference.org), and it was going to begin in just a few hours. I have two amazing women who lead our volunteer team and have pretty much made EVERYTHING happen behind the scenes for the last three years. They have become two very dear friends of mine. To say I was stressed that the hours were flying by would be an understatement. I had forty-seven billion thoughts going through my head as we stood in the lobby of the church stuffing cookies into plastic sleeves. This may seem silly, but I will never forget this moment because it still haunts me now! I knew I was stressed. To the max. Yet I stood their putting cookies in these bags as if it was going to make or break the conference.
Because of the state my heart was in at the moment, I should have stepped away, spent a moment with God, refocusing my mind and my heart on what the weekend was all about. But I stayed because I didn’t want to abandon the team! Within minutes of feeling like I needed to rest in Him, I completely snapped at one of my Team Coordinators. Over cookies. Over the bags we were putting them in. If I had in that moment been following the example Jesus set for us time and time again, I would have known that my heart wasn’t right and that time with Him would help. I know it sounds crazy that this situation had such an impact on me, but it has helped me so many times know when I need to step away and rest in Him.
So as I spent 8 days straight with my family this week, here are two things about rest I was reminded of:
1. Sometimes rest isn’t about peace and quiet, but about living in chaos and still finding calm in my heart.
Rest looks different for me than it does for everyone else. The same goes for you. That’s okay! In this season, as a mom of littles, finding quiet peaceful pockets of time is close to impossible. Here are a few ways I was able to rest this week in the midst of chaos:
We watched several Christmas movies as a family. (Netflix has some really cute ones out this year!)
I started reading a new book.
I stayed in bed until 9:30 one day this week (didn’t sleep that late, but chose to just be still and hope the house didn’t burn down). NINE-THIRTY! It’s been at least 6 years since that has happened.
I had a crazy fun time hosting Noonday Collection parties for 8 of my friends - might not sound like rest but it fills me up so much!
I made it to the gym 7 out of the last 8 days. Too often I find that when I am stressed and overwhelmed, I exercise less. I know most people experience the opposite. This week was a much needed boost in motivation for me.
Not all of those situations or examples were peaceful or quiet, and some people probably wouldn’t consider all of them “rest”. They were exactly what I needed to find calm in my heart.
2. My value and worth are not found in what I “do”. They are found in who I am. And in whose I am.
We are forced to realign our priorities when we spend time away from “work”. This one is a little messy for me because I serve my church full-time as a pastor, but at the end of the day, if spiritual leaders aren’t setting the example for what those priorities should look like, shame on us!
For so many people in full-time ministry, there’s this really fine line between what is by all definitions a “job” but is also what God has called us to do. Serving the local church is what I know God needed me to do from the moment I was born, and there are days when I think nothing of putting 10-12 hours in. But He has also given me the amazing responsibility of being Jonathan’s wife and the joy of being called mama by two of the most beautiful children in the world. Because apparently all those parts of my life don’t keep me busy enough, I also have a little side hustle (don’t we all?) selling an accessories line made by artisans in developing countries, and I’m also seeing if I can pursue speaking opportunities in 2019.
I’m listing those things NOT to say “look at all I do”, but to prove that despite any of those titles, who I am is simply a child of God. That means that spending time Him has to be at the top of my list, above all else. When we don’t create space and margin for rest, often times (for me at least), time with Him is the first thing to go.
So how do we invest in rest without feeling guilty? We remember that in order for us to invest in others, we have to invest in ourselves first. Slow down. Feed your soul. Make room for Him. Invest in rest.