Most of us in this generation seem to be natural born risk takers, but I find with our belief of being unstoppable has come terribly developed methods of how to rest well. The concept of rest goes far beyond its Biblical command to do so. Rest involves more than sleep and nothing less than understanding the humbling reality that we are not unstoppable forces. Our bodies are finite, our minds are constantly racing, and we can only do so much on nights of no sleep and days running off of eight cups of coffee.
Over the years I have come to find myself in a place of complete exhaustion, which has affected more than my ability to give of myself. I’ve spent nights sacrificing sleep for binge watching Netflix, writing poetry, editing photos, or going out (because I can only do most of these things knowing the rest of the world’s asleep). I’ve crammed my schedule to the max so I feel busy at all times. I fear silence and know that if I have time to “rest” then I will become anxious because I feel wrong for having any free time at all. I have run myself down to a place where the concept of taking time for self-rejuvenation has become a fear, and that’s the complete antitheses of an artisan of rest.
An artisan is one who deserves the title by being a master of his or her craft/art medium. Anyone deserving this title knows how to create with expertise and precision. We are called to this standard:
The first verse given to us in Scripture reveals an essential truth about whom our God is and who we as the created ones are. Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning God created…” Scripture immediately reveals to us that our God is a creative God, and it is through Him that all things were made. The heavens and the earth (1:1) light and darkness (1:3), the creatures of the land and sea (1:20-24), and man (1:26). Man was created in the image of God (the imago dei), and it was in that moment that the Creator chose to reveal Himself through His creation. There is something special about the fact that the first characteristic God decided to introduce to us in Scripture is that He is the ultimate designer of absolutely everything in existence, from the cosmos to infinity. It is here that our understanding of who God is begins, but it is also here where our understanding of what it means to be an extension of God starts. We, the created ones, are designed as creatives and our lives are the ultimate canvas. Seeing it as such is where our mentality toward self-care should begin. God created. It was good. So, God rested.
Rest is defined as follows: “Freedom from activity or labor.” To rest means to do something for yourself that does not include any form of work, anything to do with your work, or anything that takes energy from you. To rest well will come with the change in mentality that making the time to do so is necessary, and if we truly desire to give fully of ourselves, then we have to know that we are short handing ourselves and others by not taking the time to care for our bodies, our minds, our emotional being, and our spiritual walks. Rest is what gives us the ability to produce the type of work that we are called to create, and without it, the end product will most likely be less than it could have been. It entails overcoming our pride to stop believing we are something we’re not.
I have no special remedy for this mystery of why something intended to be so good is so feared, and how to overcome our terrible habits, but I believe it begins with the choice, to choose ourselves as worth caring for. Learn the best ways for you to process, relax, grow in your walk with the Lord, and physically rejuvenate. Your answers may be the first steps into overcoming the mentality that naps are child’s play and time alone is reserved for the introvert.
Lastly, learn to trust.
Trust that the time we spend caring for self will reap more than the time spent put into work when we give only parts of ourselves. Trust that obedience to this command will reap. And trust that choosing to care for self is not a selfish act. We are not unstoppable forces, and we must act accordingly.
words and photo by Emily Steffen