few weeks ago, I wrote a post talking about the gift of rest and enjoying time with family. It’s a great goal, but it’s often easier said than done. I know that all too well. I’ve struggled with my whole life with the idea of resting. I’m not one who finds it easy to sit and do nothing.
I started working for a lady down the street when I was probably 12. I had my first summer job at 15, and I worked weekends in high school and around my classes in college. I spent many summers swinging a sledgehammer in the summer heat. I had two or three jobs at the same time throughout most of my college days. It was rare that I didn’t work a 40-hour week on top of my studies.
I’m proud to have a good work ethic, but it’s only since I’ve been married that I’ve learned the downside to being so productive all these years. I don’t really know how to rest. It’s not that I can’t sleep the recommended 8 hours per night, but that when I’m awake, I have a hard time not being busy when there are things to do. So instead of resting, I do them. If I can’t do a project yet, I research and plan it in such detail that I know exactly what to buy, how to do it, and how long it should take me when I finally CAN start it.
Now, that’s not a bad thing in itself, but when I’m doing that in the back of my mind while spending time with family, it’s a bit of a problem. Not so much because it impacts them, but because I can’t just stop and relax. I find my sense of self-worth in what I get done. I’m only successful, in my mind, if my mental to-do list is shrinking rapidly. I want to get everything done so THEN I can rest. But that’s not how it works. More stuff always seems to get added before it’s all crossed off. So I keep working without resting.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. You’d think I’d know that the list will never be fully done. But what can I do? It all needs to get done and I can only hope to keep it from getting too big. It’s exhausting.
So rather than looking at myself anymore, I dove into my Bible.
Here’s what I learned:
- God Himself was the original model of rest
- God tells us specifically
- Sabbath rest is holy
- Jesus demonstrates rest
- Jesus calls us to His rest
- Paul reminds us in Hebrews
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day, he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:2-3)
If the God of the universe, who is perfect and needs no rest, decided to rest on the seventh day, who am I to think I don’t need to? He was giving us the gift of showing us what we needed, and it’s a blessing to embrace that gift.
In case His example isn’t clear enough, God tells us directly, in the fourth of the ten commandments:
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.” (Exodus 20:8-10)
And again a few chapters later:
“The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)
For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:11)
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
This call to us touches my heart every time I read it. Time and time again I come to this verse when I’m feeling like I can’t do it all, and it reminds me that I don’t have to. All I have to do is lay my burdens and my to-do list at Jesus’ feet and take His (much lighter) burden and to-do list in place of my own. Thankfully, His includes rest.
There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:9-11)
So, now that we know we’re supposed to rest, just how do we do it? It sounds so much simpler than it actually is, right?
Here are some ways I’m learning to implement rest in my daily life:
- Start your day with God
- Get enough sleep
- Realize you can’t do it all
- Intentionally disconnect from the world daily
- Notifications? I’ll pass…
- Schedule time to work
- Schedule time away
Get up a little earlier each day and spend time reading the Bible. It’s amazing how much less weight you feel when you’re spending time in God’s word daily. It’s a lovely part of God’s rest in daily life.
Personally, I like a paper Bible because it’s free of the distractions that come with opening my phone, so it’s more restful for me. You can use whatever works best for you.
We truly do need our sleep. We handle stress much better when we’re well-rested. For me, this means doing my best to get to bed eight hours before I need to get up.
No matter how much you get done, there are ALWAYS things to do. You can run yourself into the ground trying to do them all, or you can do the most important ones and save the rest for another day. Your health and mental well-being aren’t worth another checked box.
We live in an age where access to the entire world is in our pockets. And sometimes it feels like the world never stops wanting our attention. It makes it difficult to rest and unwind. There are different ways to fight this. Some opt to not have a smartphone. For me, that’s not an option, but I do put my phone on do-not-disturb between 8 pm and 8 am. It’s automatic and a lovely time of mental rest.
While you’re in there, turning off notifications can bring quite a bit of rest. I’ve made the decision that no facebook message or email can possibly come into my inbox that’s important enough to need my attention RIGHT now. If it did, it’d be a phone call. So I’ve turned off notifications in my phone for everything other than texts and phone calls. It allows me the space to open my phone without tackling a million distractions only to put my phone down an hour later never having done what I set out to do.
Allow yourself time to do the things on your list that need to be done. There’s a time for work and a time for rest. You need to make sure that you have both. Rest is not an excuse for laziness. It’s as important as work, yet serves a completely different purpose. The trick is finding the balance where you have time to work and have time to rest.
It may be a weekend away with your spouse, a day at the beach, or an hour walking in a park. Start simple, but be consistent. Take the time to clear your head and breathe. It’s worth it. You’ll be amazed at how refreshed you can feel after just a 20-minute stroll by yourself.
Ultimately, how you choose to find rest in daily life is less important than taking the time to find it. There are many more things you could add to this list, but I’d encourage you to find whatever works best for you. Time with God and time in quiet places (mentally and literally) are the best places to start. Try and implement one new restful action this week. It’s amazing what a difference it can make!
Intentional rest will not only have an impact on you personally but will have a huge impact on your marriage. Finding rest is a heart mindset–it’s a state of being not a state of doing. When we allow ourselves to rest, time to de-stress, and daily time to focus on God, we can not only be our best for ourselves but also be our best for our spouse and others.
What ways do you find rest in your daily life? Share with us in the comments below…