If there were any two areas along this journey to becoming 40 days lighter with which I have genuinely struggled and truthfully feel like an utter failure, it would be in finding times of rest, and moments for self-care.
I am constantly on the go, if not in the care of our family, for work, if not for work, then for school, and the list goes on. Even when I attempt to build in moments of down time or quiet, I somehow find a way to fill the “gap” in my schedule with something else. It’s so easy to plan to just sit in silence so that I can find the words for my writing, yet as I’m passing the kitchen sink to put down my laptop, I have a “let me just do these dishes really quick” moment. And before I know it, I’m sweeping, then I’m cooking, and a host of other household tasks not related to my writing.
I have put the baby down for nap, saying this is a good moment to rest myself, or sit and read, and before I know it, I’ve grabbed my phone or laptop to take care of “one last thing”, which mysteriously transforms into 10 more things, and before I know it, the baby is up, blinking at me with those beautiful brown eyes. And I haven’t read a single page or slept a wink.
I have taught myself to see rest or downtime as “optional”, or a thing I do when I’ve taken care of everything else.
And eventually I crash.
And I become irritable, unfocused, frustrated, overwhelmed, and overall, so tired it seeps into my bones. And I am forced to pause, because my body and mind refuse to go another step forward without recharging first.
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun says, “Lack of adequate rest can ruin our families, damage our souls, even kill us. When we burn the candle at both ends we:
- lose sight of what we enjoy in our work
- find even the things we enjoy doing become a chore
- fail to give people the gift of our attention and presence
- impair our ability to hear God’s voice and discern his movement in our lives
- become obsessive about the to-do list
- lose touch with the human limits that are meant to keep us in touch with God
This last point struck me to my core.
When I neglect my need for rest and forget about my limitations as a human being, I lose touch with God. Could it be that to reject rest, is to see ourselves as wiser than God – since even He has given us a model for work and rest by doing so Himself?
I will close with this, and invite you to join me in reflection – and repentance if you find yourself rejecting rest as well:
“God created us in his image. He is a God who works and then rests. When we rest, we honor the way God made us. Rest can be a spiritual act – a truly human act of submission to and dependence on God who watches over all things as we rest.”
~ Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us