As my resolutions are forming in this first month of the year, I am structuring them around 5 things I’ve realized I need to choose on a regular, daily basis.
And by far at the top of the list? Rest.
I have struggled with a lifestyle that includes rest for so long, I can’t remember not struggling with it. I tend to go at a whirlwind place, pausing for a day periodically for something I’ve been calling rest but really has been more like catch-up-on-all-the-other-things-I’m-behind-on day. I’m also pretty good about taking days for fun with my munchkins, which offers a certain measure of rest, but at the same time, I’m still pouring out, still parenting. More often than not, when I actually slow down and stop, it’s because my body has gone as far as it can go, and it finally crashes.
There is nothing healthy about any of this.
In my defense, last year in particular I made some good strides in building what my pastor calls “margin” into my life. But here is where I failed and here is where I am changing: patterns of rest need to be cultivated as a discipline. Rest is a matter of choosing, and by default, the deliberate choosing – the act of saying yes to rest results in saying no to other things. Good things. Fun things. Important things. (He rarely shouts, but I can almost hear my dad shouting, “Amen!” here. I’m pretty sure he’s been trying to tell me this for years.)
Rest can feel selfish. This is my biggest struggle. There are so many worthy things bidding for my time (and some times they are worth sacrificing for). But I am not as effective as I could be at anything if I am not taking care of myself – emotionally, physically, spiritually. None of us are. We weren’t wired that way.
We need sleep. We need refreshing. Our brains need a break. Our emotions need a break. Even our spirits need a break.
This process is a challenge for me. It is a matter of stripping away everything that can go and starting over to decide what is necessary for this season. It is a matter of restructuring my daily and weekly schedule to accommodate 8 hours of sleep and regular intervals of relaxation. It is a matter of discipline to stay caught up with tasks in allotted time frames, so I’m not cutting in to my down time later. I am even scheduling in time to read (definitely the best change I’ve made so far! I love books!).
Somewhere along the way, I think I adopted that saying, “I’ll rest when I’m dead”, not even realizing I had done it. But here’s the thing – you live that way, you most certainly will die that way, much sooner than you were meant to. And by the time you physically die that way, you will have killed everything else that mattered to you in the process. This is a sobering realization.
Here is what I am learning: rest is not for the weak because they just don’t have the stamina for everything life is demanding of them. It is not an indicator of failure or inadequacy.
No, rest is for the wise because they understand the world doesn’t need more of their time; it needs more of their energy. It needs more of their focus and their life and their vitality. These are things a worn out, unhealthy person simply cannot give. And perhaps most importantly, rest is for people who understand their own worth, who know they are far more significant than simply the sum of all their tasking.
I have not been able to rest well because I have embraced the idea that I am not valuable if I am not doing. And you know, that is probably true of some people; they don’t care beyond what I’m contributing to their cause. These are unhealthy relationships, and they need to go anyway. This is a new process for me, a new way of seeing life, but I am wholly committed to it.
I choose rest.
And you? What habits/boundaries/disciplines have you established to protect your rest? How are you choosing to protect your worth over your to do list? Where do you need to start?