What is rest anyway?

It’s clear to me that rest has physical and spiritual aspects. I know this because I can be physically or spiritually tired, or both. 

For example, I’m physically tired after a day filled with my kids’ activities along with piles of laundry and dishes. I’m spiritually tired when I feel weighed down by despair, confusion or when I feel detached and far away from God.

For me, a big obstacle in the way of rest is my list. I’m a big “to-do list” girl. I want so badly to get through my list, for a sense of accomplishment and closure. Then, when the work’s all done, I will feel so relieved that I will easily sit down and kick up my feet. 

But in waiting for my list to be done, I never find myself sitting.

Therein lies the problem.   

As busy people, we will always have a list. Perhaps rest needs to become an item on the list instead of a reward for finishing the list.

When I take the time to stop and rest, I feel refreshed and re-energized to pick back up the work. I feel restored.

I’ve been reading books in this hammock since I was a little girl. It is in the backyard of my godmother’s house in the mountains and is one of my favorite spots. I especially love it because many other people find rest in this spot too. Some places are sacred– “made separate” — and are a place you can go back to when your soul needs peace.

One of my greatest lessons in motherhood has been learning that my list will never be done.

Or if it gets done, it is at the cost of family time, my health or time with the Lord. At first I felt defeated by this reality, but slowly I’ve come to see the gift in it. The gift is a shift in my perspective. 

Instead of needing to finish the list in order to feel successful, I’ve decided to slowly work through it while enjoying time with my kids too.

Instead of being a slave to my list, I work my list into my life’s rhythm.

Just chillin’ after breakfast in matching “sunnies.”

My life’s rhythm needs to include times I work and times I rest. Sometimes I think I’m resting but I’m actually not because when I re-enter my life, I don’t feel any better.  

Does this sound familiar?

This counterfeit rest looks like zoning out, numbing out or escaping. 

I zone out when I scroll endlessly on my phone while lying in bed…but minutes later, I don’t feel rested.

I numb out by binging Netflix or Hulu…but hours later, I don’t feel rested. 

I escape the work or the to-do list by saying yes to every social gathering or fun activity…but I don’t feel re-energized afterwards because the work is still there when I return. 

So rest must be different than zoning out, numbing out or escaping. 

For me, the rest is when I intentionally pause between one thing and the next and restore the parts of me that have been depleted. 

This week I encourage you to think through what rest look like in your life. 

If you don’t know where to start, a friend once advised me to think about which activities in your life are an input and which are an output.

How about some color-coding?

For me, an input is dinner out with girlfriends and an output is teaching a yoga class. Both good, but one activity replenishes energy and one activity uses energy.

Once you identify your inputs and outputs, then choose a color for each and color-code your calendar. I do this at a weekly and monthly level and I’m quickly able to see the ratio of output versus input and where I need more rest. (Since adopting this practice, I’ve had more moments of peace and I’ve moved towards intentionally creating a happy rhythm for my family.)

How do you restore parts of you that have been depleted?  I can’t wait until my next post to share what I’ve discovered about rest in my life! I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “What is rest anyway?

  1. Thanks for this brilliant perspective Devany!
    I’m definitely going to give the color-coding idea a try and will report back ;0)

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