Saturday, October 12, 2013

Resting and Being

My biggest takeaways from the Soulation Gold Gathering weren't the things I would have expected. Exhibit A: the importance of Sabbath. Sadly, it's been years since I consistently practiced any concept of Sabbath - my awareness of this lack was heightened before I even went to the Gathering. I know that rest is a COMMAND, which I ignore to my own detriment. But if I take a whole day to rest and/or do whatever I want, it's just not possible to get everything done. And I don't have enough hours in the other six days to work extra hard to free up the time. For me, the stress of that would negate the day of rest anyway.

But thinking about this, and experiencing the rest and refreshment I had in Colorado, cast the craziness of my everyday life into alarming relief. As I've mentioned before, for several months (and really for most of my adult life), I've been operating on adrenaline. There's no time for being, only for doing. I am addicted to doing, and the pressure to do constantly is tremendous. My journey with busyness has been somewhat like what many people experience with antidepressants. I reach an unhealthy place where I have to quit some activity for my own sanity. So I do. Then, before long, I'm presented with an attractive new opportunity. Because I feel so much better due to the increased free time, I think, "Yes, I can and should do this!" and happily sign up, and the cycle starts again. Soon I'm back in this maxed-out place wondering how I got here. I'm embarrassed at how many times this has happened.

2013 has been my year of learning to own my identity as a writer. So I'm newly aware that the frantic brain and the creative brain are diametrically opposed. I cannot create if I never stop rushing from one activity to the next. It's a smaller vicious cycle nested inside the first one - I'm overstressed, I can't think to write, then I feel more stressed because writing is how I process life. In a similar vein, when I'm too busy, I can't "hear" God. All the noise drowns Him out. Then I feel disconnected from Him, which makes everything else worse. To fulfill my calling and be fully human, I have to give my mind, heart, and soul more room to breathe. Taking time to rest is not selfishness. It's what enables me to do the important things.

So I'm starting small. I'm thinking a lot about how I can create pockets of rest in my life, more time to write and relax and be. I'll have to lay down some of my pride - in taking care of my lawn all by myself, in not being seen as undependable or a quitter. But more than a lesson in humility, this is a lesson in trust. I listen so readily to the voices of fear, to those who tell me I have to do more and more and more in order to find a man. In the quiet of the mountains, I felt God asking me, Hey, do you think you can trust Me with this? I didn't realize until that moment that, successfully spooked by "God won't bring the right man to your door," I'd gone to the opposite extreme.

It won't be easy, but it's time (again) to stop striving. It's time (again) to remember who's in charge of the universe, and stop feeling like I'm solely responsible to make everything happen. He's got this, and I need to quiet myself enough to listen for His voice and for the words He's given me. I need to lay in the sunshine and let it do its life-giving work on the seeds in my soul.


  1. The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath. (Odd that this is the second time I'm quoting that verse today.)

    When I was a boy, two closely related things were taught to us in academics and athletics that this reminds me of. In exercise, it is crucial to one's proper development to rest periodically: rigorous exercise every day is generally a bad practice. In studying, it is important to take five every so often: our minds are just not designed to take in information in most circumstances without some periodic rest.

    A lot more than that could be said about the Sabbath. I won't bore you with my pontifications. That practical aspect of it, though, did seem like something to mention. And practical in the best sense. Our bodies (and minds and hearts, for that matter) are, after all, temples, and we can help to keep them holy (dedicated to God) by consecrating them to some godly rest from time to time.

  2. I heard someone say once that our choice to implement a Sabbath practice is similar to our choice to tithe. With tithing, we can come up with a million other ways to spend the money, and it can be hard to open our fists and trust God. But, when we tithe, we are often afforded opportunities to watch Him work. And it increases our trust. And the Sabbath is like that. There will always be a million things we can do with that day, but we need to trust God that what He commands is right. (Disclaimer: I work on Sundays, so I am the LAST person to be dispensing advice here!!)
    But I do agree with the above comment about how exercise every day is a bad practice. I am living proof of that with distance running. It's amazing how I can see so many practical applications for the benefit of resting, but still don't take the time to observe a Sabbath as God commands!!!
    Just some thoughts.

    1. Oh that's a good one! I need to remember that. Thanks for commenting. :)

  3. This is an excellent post! (If you need writing samples in the future, use this post!)

    I've never learned much about keeping a Sabbath, but like you, I don't know how I would be able to get everything done in the other six days. I'm going to do some more thinking about this. As another commenter equated it to tithing, I have an idea. I remember at my old church when they were doing a pledge drive, one of the elders gave the advice to work up to a 10% tithe, if starting at 10% seems too hard. Start with 1% in the first year and add a percent each year. In 10 years, you'd be tithing 10%. Maybe a Sabbath could be similar - carve out a couple hours each week for a while. Then add more time until it's an entire day.

    The "pockets of rest" are like the "restorative niches" from Susan Cain's book. I think they're needed, for sure!

    I'm a do-er too. Sometimes I have to stop myself from trying to accomplish tasks and just go play on the floor with Alex. I remind myself that time spent with him is never wasted. Whatever we do to rest and de-stress, that time is never wasted!

    1. :)

      My counselor told me a very similar thing. She said adrenaline and constant busyness are like a drug. If you try to go cold turkey, you'll go into shock. So it's better to mindfully "rest" for small periods before taking on an entire day. I thought that was very freeing.