Rest is important. Rest is good.
My life is often fast paced and some weeks I can feel anxiety building. Trying to squeeze too much into my days, or having a too-high expectation of myself can diminish my joy and suffocate my soul.
I love to be able to find the balance of productivity – enough to keep me busy and motivated, but not too much that I become overwhelmed. But after a busy week I am learning the art of rest.
To place down the expectations.
To acknowledge the hard work of a week well spent.
And then allow myself to stop.
Yesterday, as I pressed ‘send’ on an assignment submission, I was already planning a day of rest.
An intentional day of being with my people, and allowing my lungs to be filled with the air of recreation.
“Rest, ironically, is an activity that must be prepared for, and then pursued. The purpose of Sabbath, however, is not simply to rejuvenate yourself so you can produce more during the rest of the week.”*
The word Sabbath comes with it all the connotations of religion and the do’s and mustn’t do’s.
But really it’s the gentle tugging on the soul by a God who knows we simply need to stop.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”**
So much of those unforced rhythms of grace include the rhythm of work and of rest.
It’s good to work. The next few months will be work for me, as I tackle two units this semester, pursue intentional motherhood, and help to run a women’s event, or two at church.
But woven amongst the work and the effort is deliberate rest. A Bali holiday. A retreat.
And Saturdays just like today where I kick a football with my boys and watch a family movie.
No cooking, no worrying and even some chocolate. A living free and light of expectation or anxiety. Though the diary is full and a look over the coming weeks could cause my heart to beat in a panic, I must allow myself to be.
To do that which fills my soul. To enjoy, really enjoy the moments I’ve been given, without worry about tomorrow. True rest isn’t just about extra sleep, its a rest that comes from the inside out and is available if you’re willing to lay down the burdens and just be.
“The need for an empty space, a pause, is something we have all felt in our bones;It’s the rest in a piece of music that gives it resonance and shape”***
Are you feeling the need for some empty space? To stop, and look upon your work and know that it’s good, and that it’s okay to rest now?
Pursue some rest this week.
It’s not selfish, it’s necessary.
* Tim Keller
** Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)
*** Pico Iyer