Rest: Why We Avoid It and How to Create More

Rest. Everybody needs it. Nobody seems to take the time for it…including myself.

Let’s face it: busy is the new standard. A recent article in the Washington Post proclaims, “somewhere around the end of the 20th century, busyness became a badge of honor.”

Somehow we decided filling every space of our lives with activity means our lives are more valuable. Creating, participating, doing – over and over – is now the measure of importance. But allowing ourselves to be seduced by the “importance” of busy would be a mistake.

Busy is only distraction. And it’s hurting us. In our rush to the next activity, we are failing to enjoy the present.

This spring, at an oil change, I was warned my car battery was low. I justified that I was too busy to have it replaced and declined a new battery. Besides, the warning light on the dash wasn’t on yet.

As I pulled out of the service station a question rang through my head, “If you don’t take care of what you have, what use will it be?” Maybe it was my common sense, but I rather think it was the Holy Spirit planting a seed.

A few days later, I rushed to my car after work. I wanted to make it across town for my blood donation at the Red Cross. But the car wouldn’t start. It didn’t even try to make a grinding sound. The battery was dead.

I had spent my week ignoring the care of my Mazda because I was too busy being important. And now, here I was going to save lives with a blood donation – which was the most important thing on my schedule – and I couldn’t get there.

As I waited for a jump, that same question bounced around in my head, “If you don’t take care of what you have, what use will it be?”

This question didn’t simply apply to my car – although my car had made the point loud and clear. This question applied to me and my lack self-care.

What use will I be to my family in the long run if I don’t take care of my body? What use will I be to a friend if I burn out from exhaustion? What use will I be to the Holy Spirit if I don’t nurture my spiritual walk?

When I ignore my needs, it is only a matter of time before my ship starts to sink. And once that happens, I’ll be taking the people around me down into my whirlpool of drama.

Are you caught up in the importance of busyness? Are you ignoring your need to rest?

There is a price for constant movement and distraction. It is paid by poor physical health, poor mental health, and poor spiritual health. Running yourself into the ground affects your ability to think clearly, foster healthy relationships, and even experience the moment.

By cheating yourself out of rest, you are also cheating others out the best you have to offer. As Christians, we are taught to love one another as we love ourselves. That does not mean love others and ignore yourself.

You deserve rest. You deserve to take the time to care for yourself. God did not intend for you to stay busy constantly and focus on what you do not have. In fact, He set an example of the exact opposite.

In Genesis, as God creates the universe, after (almost) each day it is written, “God saw that it was good.” He took the time to reflect on His handiwork and ENJOYED what He had made. He did not look at the stars and say “I have to create the animals by Friday, so let’s hurry and get the Earth out of the way before lunch.”

He created the Sabbath and made it a commandment. Not a kinda-sorta rule to be followed when its convenient, but an actual first-things-first, written-in-stone (twice) commandment.

Rest. Your busyness – even if your schedule is filled with service projects – will not make God love you more. Rest. God is big enough to take care of the unchecked items on your “to do” list. Rest – a little every day, and a full day once per week. That is what God modeled for a healthy mind, body and soul.

Remember, there is no greater rest than in Him.

How To Get More Rest:
1. Rest has to be intentional. Rest does not happen by accident or chance. Make a commitment to take care of yourself in this way.

2. Decide what “rest” is for you – Hint: it should not include distractions like TV or internet surfing and should be a solitary practice. Reading scripture or devotionals is inspiring for some. Or maybe you just sit on the deck with a cup of tea and listen to the birds. Rest doesn’t always have to be physical resting. It could be a hike, a walk on the beach, wrestling on the floor with your dog, or yoga. What recharges your batteries?

3. Set a routine – Mornings are a great time for quiet resting. Saturday mornings are a particular favorite of mine because I’m a pretty awful morning-person most week days.

4. Reflect and enjoy at the end of the day – Recognize all that you have done. Even if you did not meet your goal and you felt you were spinning your wheels all day, I’m sure you gained a lesson somewhere along the way, or made someone smile, or saw something beautiful. There is always some good that comes out of every day.

I’d love to hear how you rest and recharge. Leave your tips and thoughts in the comments!

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