I’m so grateful to be back with you in this space after taking a break for the month of August. In my season of rest, it’s all I could hear people talking about.
Have you had that happen? You seem to hear the same thing everywhere….in the book you’re reading, as a topic of conversation among your friends, at church (even the one you are visiting while out of town), or on your favorite Podcast, or even the playlist you are listening to.
That’s what happened to me last month, so I decided I’d better hone in and pay attention because it was clear God was trying to get mine.
The two most common questions I heard were:
1. What do I say no to?
- We all have full lives. I heard multiple friends say, ”I can’t tell if this busyness is a season or just my life. I’m sure I’ll find the time eventually, I just can’t right now.”
2. What does rest even mean?
- “I’m so burnt out I can barely do the things I need to do, let alone the things I want to do. I’m out of energy and just want to zone out.” (I’ve come to discover that zoning out is counterfeit rest).
I can relate to these feelings deeply.
I am the queen of going through cycles of over-doing and then becoming so tired I crash. It reminds me of the season when I was working, caring for and coordinating care for my toddler and baby, taking care of the home and planning our social calendar and family time.
It was all good, but it was a lot.
I felt like I had zero margin to add anything in, especially time for rest.
I’m still in a similar season now, but with only two small differences. One, my work is no longer in the classroom and two, instead of adding time for rest, I’ve carved out time within my daily rhythm.
About a year ago I was encouraged to approach rest like any other healthy habit… like eating whole foods, watching Ellen or exercising. (I know, #priorities)
If I want to run a 10k, I don’t get up one morning and run six miles. I mean, I know some of you could, but for the girl over here with a 10:30 minute mile, I might as well just give-in to speed-walking, grab a cup of coffee and listen to my favorite podcast. Bye bye running…it was a nice idea, I’d rather not feel like my chest is caving in and my legs are 50 lb weights that I can no longer control. It’s clear my “non-runner” self needs to build up some endurance first!
Maybe if you are a “non-rester,” you need to build up some endurance, too.
I built up my “rest- endurance” by pouring myself a cup of coffee, setting a timer for 15 minutes and then sitting still in the same comfy chair before my kids woke up, day after day.
I discovered a small start had a higher return than a big idea saved for later.
I was surprised that something so small could make such a big impact. The 15 minutes I took to sit still, quiet my heart and replenish my overwhelmed mind caused me to enjoy the subsequent 10 hours of motherhood, projects and the people I love more. I actually think I was kinder and more patient and more joyful, too.
Rest had my attention.
Moments of rest don’t have to require huge chunks of your day. You can set a timer for 5-10 minutes, maybe pour a cup of coffee or tea as an added incentive, and then see rest as an invitation to take care of yourself and allow God to take care of you.
Sit back and begin to enjoy the gift of stillness.
If the thought of stillness makes you nervous, you aren’t alone. I have some ideas of how to welcome the waiting within stillness and I invite you to try some of them on.
I’ve grown to love these moments and have increased my rest time from 15 minutes each morning to 30 minutes at the beginning, middle and end of my day. What started as a pretty uncomfortable and unnatural-feeling discipline has become one of the most treasured parts of my day. I liked the pauses so much that I expanded my rhythm to include…
- Reserving one day a week to rest and delight doing things I love with the people I love.
- Retreating at least 2 times a year to get away and recharge.
Following these rhythms have become preventative maintenance for my soul that protect me from running my engine so hard and for so long that I crash into the familiar wall of burnout because of an empty tank.
I have come to enjoy these still spaces and I hang onto them like a lifeline because they are the most transformative parts of my day, week and year.
God has been faithful in how He meets my needs, stills my worries and directs my steps time and time again in moments of rest.
I promise you can trust Him to do the same for you.
Perhaps you have 5 minutes right now? I invite you to set a timer on your phone and give yourself a gift that could transform the rest of your day, and then your week, and perhaps your life.
I’d love to hear how it goes! What’s good? What’s hard? What’s changed? Or if you still aren’t certain what rest really is, I’ve explored that question, too. Look below and see in my previous posts on rest and tell me what you think in the comments. I’m always grateful for your stories and perspective.