Here is a confession that I know is going to be really, really hard for you to believe: I don’t do very well with rest (naps are obviously excluded from this. I am highly skilled in that area). I’m talking about just resting for days, weeks, months at a time. Being present, being peaceful, being content.
I like to go places. I like to do things. I like to always have something going on, or at the very least have something to look forward to. When one venture ends, I seek out another. I don’t like being bored. I don’t like not having a story to tell. I really do not like waiting. If something needs to happen (or, let’s be real, if I want something to happen) I’m gonna do whatever I can to make it happen right now.
This past school year was definitely a year of doing. And there were plenty of great adventures but with them came just as many (probably more) “what in the world do you think you’re doing?” moments. I never really stopped to think or to catch my breath. I told myself that I didn’t have time to, because I always saw something else on the horizon that I wanted to get to as quickly as possible.
Now that it’s over, I realize that I am exhausted. I am mentally and emotionally drained. And I’m sure I’ve been feeling this way for a while, it just took stepping back and slowing down for me to fully recognize it.
Being home these past couple weeks has been kind of hard, because there is just not a whole lot for me to do right now. I don’t start my job until the end of this month and most of my friends here are still in school. I’m not used to having down-time. I’m not used to being by myself for a whole day. And my first reaction to this is to try and find something, find someone. To just keep going full-speed ahead.
But this morning, for whatever reason, I started to think a little differently. I got up, made myself a slightly ridiculous amount of iced coffee and just sat for a while. I had to force myself not to think about what I’m gonna do today or tomorrow or this weekend. Not to worry about who I could or should talk to today. Not to be anxious, not to be discontent. And wow, it was not easy. I have a lot of work to do, friends.
But I heard the clearest message from God today. Like weirdly, amazingly clear.
I have been given this time as a gift. God knows that this past year I spent every ounce of energy that I had on others. There were relationships that I was so immensely blessed by, but there were others that really, really hurt my heart. This morning I felt like God was telling me that while I’m wishing this time of stillness and quiet away, He’s trying to use it for renewal and restoration. To build back up parts of me that have been broken down. To fill up what I have poured out.
I spent a lot of time this past year doing what I wanted or felt like I needed to do. I spent time with God, but often it wasn’t the kind of purposeful, completely focused time it takes to really strengthen that relationship. This morning I felt like God was telling me that He has purposely removed so many distractions from my life because He wants my attention and devotion right now.
While I am so concerned with doing something- only so I’m not doing nothing- God just wants to chill. How did it take me so long to recognize this?! The most precious gift that could ever possibly be given is sitting right in front of me and I have been looking everywhere else for anything else. Who am I to tell God that I would rather do anything besides just be with Him?
I think that if anyone let themselves be still and quiet for a while, they would probably hear the same message from God. Maybe not in such a clear, direct way as I heard it this morning (I imagine He’s probably tried to tell me many times before in less clear and direct ways but- shocker- I didn’t get it) but I believe He cares about His relationships with all of us just the same. He wants to be close to us and He wants us to let Him care for us just the same.
Not everyone is in a phase of life where they have been emptied and really need to be filled. Maybe your heart is feeling pretty full right now. And not everyone is in a place where they have the time to just sit with God for hours every morning. Maybe there is a pretty lengthy list of things you need to get accomplished today.
But no one can walk with God in the way that He has intended unless we have peace in our hearts and are genuinely content with our place in life at this very moment. And we get that peace and contentment only through resting in Him.
I have learned that this type of rest isn’t a physical act, but a spiritual state. I can rest now while sitting at home by myself all day, but I can also rest when the pace of life starts to pick back up and I have people to see, places to go and things to do. It’s about choosing to be at peace with whatever your circumstances are, choosing to let God free you from your anxieties and choosing to be purposeful in how you spend your time so that He is never anything but your first priority.
This is a choice I am going to have to make every day and I know some days are going to be much harder than others. But what a beautiful opportunity I am being given! What a wonderful gift we are all given if we choose to accept it. Let’s get some rest today.