The past few weeks have been a rollercoaster of activity and emotion, ranging from the high of a lovely vacation, to the low of an unexpected loss, back up to the high of starting a new job, and then down to the low of finding out I have a fractured heel and not tendonitis as previously diagnosed three months ago. Sigh.
Needless to say, it’s been crazy. And frankly, I’m over crazy and busy and stressed. I need to be done with the hustle and bustle for a bit and be in a place of calm and peace and rest – heart, mind and soul.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading this summer, as I am prone to do this time of year, and a recurrent theme has been rest. Whether it’s Scripture, devotionals, books, or blogs – everything speaks of rest – this place of inner calm, quiet, trust, faith, belief, and hope. One person spoke of rest as this posture of just sitting and inhaling the breath and presence of God into our own being and exhaling the breath and presence of God out to the world around us. Another spoke of our beauty being a direct result of a soul resting and believing in God totally; no longer striving, receiving the inheritance that is ours for the taking, and embracing all that we are made to be. Aren’t the visuals lovely? This is the desire of my heart. I. Want. This.
I’ve learned this year that I am only at my best when I am operating from a place of rest. It’s really true for all of us. When we are in overdrive and chaotically scrambling from one thing to the next, we really aren’t giving our best. We’re simply doing what can be deemed “good enough” in order to get by and move on to the next thing in the same fashion and speed. In times like this, we’re usually not very good to ourselves nor do we give off an air of goodness to those around us. Our countenance and body language speaks volumes: “Stay away from me. I’m too busy. I don’t have time. I can’t be bothered right now.”
But when we are at rest, it is quite different. Yes, many things will still bombard us for attention and the workload may continue to increase, but we handle it all with grace. We awaken to each new day, breathe deep, and take what comes one step at a time, knowing and trusting that as long as we just give the best we have within us, it will all be okay, finished or not. And then we wake up the next day and start again. Whatever it is that didn’t get finished yesterday, will still be there waiting for us today. And it is okay.
Maybe I’m the only one who struggles with this and needs this reminder. But I doubt it. I think there are so many us who are driven perfectionists, always striving and working to accomplish something, in a hurry to get from one place to the next, and without realizing it, are missing out on some of the best and most beautiful moments in life. When I feel out of control, I take on more and more things to try to gain control, and then only feel more exhaustion than I did to begin with. I totally admit that I am guilty of this, and I am not proud of it. But God has been teaching me that, ironically, it is by surrender and giving up control to Him (the only One who really has control in the first place) that I actually accomplish and enjoy life more. It seems such an elementary concept – but for people like me – it’s a process to turn this concept into a reality.
I believe I am capable of change and that God is doing a work in me to bring me to a new place with Him – a resting place – a place where I can experience Him more fully and live my absolute best life now. I’ve been asking God to show me what this might look like and His response has been to just adopt some simple things into my life. So, here they are…
** Take breaks at work. Breaks are there for a reason. Step outside for a few minutes in the morning and a few minutes in the afternoon. Take the hour lunch. Get out of the office. Go to the park for a walk or to read a book. Cruise downtown and take in the sights and people. Give myself the mental break needed to do my job effectively.
**Give myself time in the evenings to chill out and ease into a good night’s sleep. Catch up on the episodes of Downton Abbey I’ve been meaning to finish before the new season begins. Get lost in a really good novel or piece of non-fiction. Allow myself to sit in my chair or lay in bed on a weeknight without feeling guilty or lazy for doing so.
**Connect with friends. Over coffee. Over lunch. Over dinner. Via text. Via phone. Via email. Whatever it takes, make more time for friends, for fellowship, for the sharing of hearts and lives with the awesome people God has blessed me with.
**Be outside as much as possible. There’s something incredibly refreshing about being in the great outdoors, whether in the city or out in the country. Drive with the windows down. Open the windows up at home. Soak in the sunshine, breathe in the scent of a good rainfall, feel the breeze on my face.
**When the time comes, ease back into my running routine. But do it for health, for fun, for freedom. Don’t focus so much on time and speed. Enjoy it and love it and remember how it felt when I started the journey almost four years ago. Let that be what keeps me going in this amazing sport.
**Move my licensing test to a later date in the fall. Stop holding myself to this deadline I created and can easily change. It’s not giving up or procrastination. With everything going on, I need more time to get prepared. I definitely won’t do well if I cram over the next month. Ease back into a routine and strategy that works for my life as it is now.
Simple, basic things. Yet they are so much more. These things can be the difference between a life of chaos and stress or a life of peace and rest. It is time to embrace this season and be strengthened, steadied, and sustained by rest.
“The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” – Exodus 33:14, NIV