One of my favorite things to help people do is learn what resting well looks like for them. We live in a time where go, go, go is praised and rewarded. And for anyone who knows me, know that resting well is something I have had to learn to fight for. By nature, I am a doer and an achiever. I live for to do lists and accomplishing all the tasks. In fact, my favorite chore, since I was 16 and could drive, has been grocery shopping…it still is (but don’t tell anyone.) There is a list involved. There is a right/wrong answer: is it on the list? And then it is checked off. Quite cathartic.
But learning how to rest…I really had to delve deep and figure out what that meant. I had no idea what that would look like when I started. I don’t think most people know. So often I hear friends, strangers, heck, myself even, say something like yeah I rest…I watched “fill in the blank” on Netflix this weekend. Or whatever your show watching medium is. While binge watching your favorite show may be helpful at different points in your journey, I can assure you of one thing, it isn’t resting.
Rest is entering the space where you step back from everything else and encounter God in whatever you’re doing. It’s allowing God to fill you up. It is the place where you are recharged. It is the place we work from. No wonder we find ourselves so incredibly tired all the time. We confuse watching Netflix for resting so it’s all we do on the weekend and then go back to work Monday, confused why we don’t feel more rested.
Now hear me. I am not saying watching shows is bad or wrong or sinful or anything like that. Recently my dad took me to see an awesome movie for Valentine’s Day. I watch movies on the regular…God totally talks to me in them. I encounter God there in movies. But there is a difference even in that place. Binge watching Netflix is not caring for your spirit or engaging God, it is checking out.
Sometimes checking out is helpful. Sometimes you need a minute. A buffer perhaps. Sometimes it’s fun to check out with friends. But if we never move from simply checking out, we have no hope to be transformed. We have no hope for things to look different.
Saying you want to grow or be healthy or for even tomorrow to look different than today is like being in any relationship where the only thing you ever do when you’re together is sit in silence and stare at a wall then wonder why you don’t know each other better than you did last week. You see with rest, you are strengthened….not weakened. Entering a place of rest fills you with courage to see tomorrow. To laugh at the days to come. To make the hard choices and enjoy the fun ones.
I find it interesting thinking about how the Pharisees would rail on Jesus about “working” on the Sabbath. At one point He talks about how man isn’t made for the Sabbath but Sabbath for the man (Mark 2). It is a gift from God. I bet there are a few of you out there that don’t know what to do with that gift. Maybe the gift feels awkward and scary. This gift is a lost art. But I have a pretty strong feeling that if you will venture on in search of what it looks like, you won’t be the same ever again.
I know I beat this drum a lot and I will again here…HEAR ME: Your rest will look different than someone else’s. Stop comparing stories or rest habits or anything else for that matter.
Rest often looks different for everyone. Maybe it’s cooking a meal with God or with people. Maybe it’s going on a long walk outside. Maybe it is reading a book or watching cartoons with your kids. Maybe it is creating something with your hands. When I started trying to figure it out I made a list of 25 things that I love to do. Silly things. Serious things. Things that I enjoyed doing, not things I had to do. There were things like painting my nails and being girly for a minute or taking a bubble bath or laying on a blanket in the park and reading a good book. I don’t know where that list has gone but it has grown.
Besides the things you enjoy, rest is also about inviting God into it. I really enjoyed a book called “Do No Work” by Andrew Gilmore. (Hint: it’s free on Amazon Unlimited). In that book one of the things that struck me was this quote:
The real reason we lack peace is not because we have problems but because we have not surrendered these problems to God.
What if we entered places of rest with God and surrendered our problems to Him? What if we walked out of that place of rest with Him lighter than we have ever been before? What if that lightness changed the way we loved and worked and served? Would it be worth it?
What are some of the ways you rest? What does that look like for you?