Hi, my name is Lauren and I am bad at resting. I try to rest, I really do. I pour my mug of tea and settle into the couch with my book and journal, only to realize a hour later my books are untouched and phone battery is low. This is what I call fake resting, and I am guilty of it every time. Fake resting entails scrolling on my phone instead of napping, or watching Netflix instead of reading. There are even days when I “rest” by going on a deep cleaning spree so I can feel productive. Unfortunately it is hard for me to rest because I feel guilty for “doing nothing” when a never ending to-do list sits before me. So I claimed “Bad Rester” as my title and never sought to change it. The absence of “resting” on my list of spiritual gifts became my excuse to not attempt rest at all. Can anyone relate with me on this?
I am also a goal-setter. I love checking things off my list and basking in accomplishment at the end of the day. It was not until recently when a friend pointed out my excessive use of the word “expect”. Whether it is expectations for myself, expectations for others, or expectations I make for situations, they are present in every facet of my life. I am a slave to them, but I did not realize this until my friend pointed out its true consumption of my life.
I realize these two traits are linked. My desire to meet expectations and accomplish more keep me from what I have been created to do, which is rest. Not the fake resting, but real, rejuvenating rest. Real rest is time of peace and fulfillment, a time to fill us up. Real rest brings us life and in turn prepares us for the chaos we face when we step outside or look at our phones.
Society yells at us to do more, accomplish more, work more, but our Creator gently whispers that we are already enough, so now we just need to sit with him. This type of rest is designed to remind us who we really are and what the Lord calls us because everything outside of God’s presence tells us the opposite. If we constantly choose those lies over holy truth, we forget who we are. We forget the life God has called us to, and we even forget those holy, life-giving truths apply to the people around us that can be hard to love in our brokenness.
I want to live by my belovedness rather than accomplishments. I do not want to end each day feeling drained, but content in truth. My fight for real rest is encompassed in these three steps: solitude, creativity, and grace (so much grace).
Solitude: I am at the point where I turn my phone off when I sit with Jesus, because solitude means solitude. I am giving him me and all of me. Not half of my attention, not 10 minutes of my 30 minutes of free time, but the whole time, my whole self. Offering myself to the Father allows my mind to fully focus on him and his voice alone. His voice is so important and I am guilty of choosing the voices of others’ instead of his. His voice tells me I am beloved, I am worthy and enough. His voice gives me patience and restoration. His voice reminds me to love his other beloved children. His voice grounds me, re-focuses me. However, it is only when I sit in true solitude I can listen deeply to his voice.
Creativity: In order to feed my desire for accomplishments, I have made time for life-giving, creative rest. The same friend that pointed out my enslavement to expectations also suggested that I set aside 1-2 hours of non-negotiable time every week to do creative work. So I have, and it has become a habit I never wish to quit. For that allotted time, I shut the world out with my headphones to paint, write letters, blog, create mood boards for upcoming projects, or anything that will exercise my creativity. It is my time for healthy productivity in activities I enjoy doing and refresh my soul. We could all use more time like that, time to be unapologetically creative for no reason besides the fact we love it.
Grace: So much grace. Grace for myself when I waste time scrolling on my phone, make excuses to skip real rest, or don’t meet my goals for the week. This has been especially challenging with my living for expectations. When I fail to meet them, I immediately blame myself, doubt my worth, and scold my lack of discipline. But this is not the message Jesus preaches. He gives one of grace and a promise for new mercies every morning. There is enough grace for my failures, wrongdoings, lies, judgment, and everything in between. There is enough grace for yours too, and your friends’. I will always fall short but God in his mercies never will. Hallelujah.
In these three practices, I have found real, life-giving rest. I hope you can take some of these ideas and apply them to your life as well for sweet rest. We were created for it, even God rested on the seventh day. While we crave it, we do not choose it as often as we should. I am not even close to achieving real rest consistently, but that’s okay because there is enough amazing grace to cover that as well.
words by Lauren Grindstaff and photo by Gretta Sheehan