One of my favorite things about God is this:
When we give Him our distorted perspectives and opinions about things, He takes them and pierces them with His truth.
Our perspectives are shaped mainly by our experiences, people we have encountered, and what the culture around us is telling us. One distorted perspective of mine has to do with rest. I’ve grown up with a perspective that hardly has room for it. The message I have received on a consistent basis through my life has been:
Be in tip-top shape.
Have a lot of friends.
Go, go, go.
Have a successful career.
Make a lot of money.
Be the perfect neighbor.
Be the best mom in the world.
Be the best wife in the world.
Wake up early.
Go to bed late.
Burn both ends of the candle.
Throw Pinterest perfect birthday parties.
Have a Pinterest perfect house.
Put all three of your kids in sports, all at the same time. And don’t you dare skip a season.
Always be put together.
Do charity work.
Do all the church activities.
And oh, the Holidays.
There’s a lot more, but you get the point. Don’t get me wrong, those things are all great, for the most part. What’s not great is if you try to do all of those things together, on a consistent basis, and never take time to rest.
I tend to view life through the lens of being a fighter. Being a mom, there is a lot of strength, constant training, and endurance that is required. Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. It requires a lot of fighting. Fighting for your marriage, your career, your kids, your values, your health, your sanity, etc. There was a time in my life when I tried to follow the above list, most of the time, on a consistent basis; I never took time to rest, and I found myself in a really bad place. Going into the details of that time can be saved for another day, but what I can tell you is that I will never forget the words the Holy Spirit spoke to me on a particularly bad day. I heard these words:
YOU ARE ALLOWED TO REST.
Next, an image came into my mind that was similar to Rocky Balboa. All of a sudden, it clicked. I came to the realization that fighters need to rest too. That thought had never crossed my mind. Fighters need to be replenished and rejuvenated, otherwise, guess what?
They will never be able to reach their full potential.
That day, God pierced my distorted perspective with His truth and in the days that followed, the opinions I always had about rest began to change. I began to let go of the lies that I had to do it all, and for the first time in my life, I felt the freedom to let go. His truth had set me free.
Rest can come in many forms. There’s physical rest, but there’s also emotional rest, mental rest, and even spiritual rest. A few of my favorite definitions of rest come from the Youngs Analytical Concordance:
rest from sorrow
to lie down
to lean in, on or upon.
quietness in your mind, will, and emotions
Imagine how it would feel to give God all of our worries, to let Him take them, to quiet ourselves enough to listen for His voice, to put our sorrows at rest, to lie down and rest, to take a break from waring and fighting, to lean in on Him, and quiet our mind, our will, and our emotions.
My favorite Bible verse on rest is this one, taken from The Message translation:
Matthew 11:29 – “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.”
Something I love to practice, especially on the days that I get stressed out, I’m worried about something, or there is a lot going on, is this: I get my journal out and write it all down. Doesn’t matter how much there is or how little, but it helps me release it all to Him and incorporate emotional and mental rest into my life. It helps me so much! It’s something small and seemingly insignificant, but intentionally choosing to release my burdens to Him in the middle of the day makes all the difference.
These days, I still work hard, I work out, I do my best to be the best mom and wife I can be, I wake up (fairly) early, my kids play sports, I’m involved at church, I get together with my friends, I throw birthday parties, etc., but I’ve also scaled back a lot. My life has changed for the better since I let go of trying to do everything and be everything to everyone all the time. I don’t feel a need to work myself to the bone anymore. I take breaks and love every second. I say no to things that wouldn’t allow me to live up to the full potential God wants for my life —so I can be rested and available for the things He wants to do in me and through me.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burnt out? Go to God. Get away with Him and He will recover your life. He’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Him and work with Him—watch how He does it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. He won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Him and you’ll learn how to live freely and lightly.
Featured Image by Dimitri Tyan