A few years ago, I was introduced to a new idea to begin the New Year. Rather than making a resolution, I would take a moment to sit with God and ask Him for a word or a phrase over my year. This year, the word I received was ‘rest’. My immediate internal reaction was, YES! I like this!
The last several years started with known challenges and changes that I was to prepare for and endure, so this year’s theme brought comfort and relief, knowing that I was being invited into a year of rest. While my favored vision of rest includes a sandy beach and an umbrella drink, I was aware this was likely not what my Father, God, was referring to. I felt the invitation to become curious. To be open to a new view. A redefining of what rest is and what it looks like.
My Rest Habits
Over time, I would say I have established some pretty good rest habits. One of my favorites being rest time at our home. I LOVE rest time. Even though two out of the three of my kids no longer nap, they understand that the days we are home in the afternoons, we are going to rest. Mommy is going to go to her room and lay down and they are to read or a play a game quietly. There is just one rule. They are NOT to come to my room unless they are on fire or there is significant blood. This is my moment in the day to pause. To breathe. To rest.
Another of my favorite rest habits is a yearly weekend getaway. For much of my marriage, my husband and I have made a conscious effort to go away for a long weekend to celebrate our anniversary. More than that, it is a time for us to step away from the busyness of life and take a moment to pause. To breathe. To rest.
A few of my other favorite moments of ‘rest’ include haircut day (yes this is an actual moment of rest for me), yoga class, a hike, a pedicure or watching Say Yes to the Dress. These are moments when I can pause. I can breathe. I can rest.
Pace, Planning and Perception
As I became curious about my rest habits, I observed that my view of rest often follows an interesting pattern of thinking. Pace, Planning and Perception.
- Pace: My time of rest needs to be efficient and productive.
- Planning: I need to plan out how to utilize my time of rest.
- Perception: In my pace and planning, I can attempt to control how others perceive my time of rest.
While there are some great aspects to my rest habits, if I am to be honest with myself, many times, the benefits of my rest are temporary. And many times, I’m left feeling empty. As I strive to pace, plan and control the perception of my time of rest, I’ve become aware of an internal fear or a guilt for desiring moments to pause. To breathe. To rest. These are things not often valued in a culture that screams work harder, do more and be more. Thus, I find myself hustling for my worthiness in my time of rest.
Pause, Presence and Peace
My desire to seek moments where I can pause, I can breathe, and I can rest, is truly good. But through my reflection, when what I had hoped for in rest fell flat, it was because I was trying to do it through my own effort. Life-giving rest cannot be achieved from my efforts alone. It comes from the One who gives life. Real rest is not just physical. It cares for my heart and draws me into a deeper intimacy with my Father.
I want to make a shift in my pattern of thinking. I want to exchange my pace, planning and perception and begin practicing a new view. Pause, Presence, and Peace.
- Pause: Take a moment, no matter how big or small, and pause.
- Presence: Become present to myself and invite the presence of my Father in.
- Peace: In the pause, in the presence of myself and my Father, I can experience the peace of life giving rest.
Rest is not about a specified amount of time. It’s not about where we go, what we do or even how much we do. Rest is the invitation to be present to ourselves, to our heart, and to invite the presence of our Father in. Therefore, we hand over the pace, the planning and the perception. We ask our Father to hold our worries and our fears. To hold our pain and our grief. To release everyone and everything and rest WITH Him. What can our Father, God, do with that space in our souls when we release it all and choose life giving rest?
“You won’t find healing in the midst of the Matrix. We need time in the presence of God. When we are in the presence of God, removed from distractions, we are able to hear him more clearly, and a secure environment has been established for the young and broken places in our hearts to surface.”
John Eldredge, Waking the Dead