Wednesday, December 15, 2010

+ rest +

I'm terrible at resting. I'm terrible at knowing why I'm terrible at resting.

Have you heard that most weaknesses are just strengths taken too far? My strength is diving headfirst into things that wrap their fingers around my heart, and working hard to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. I'm not passive. And I take it too far. I'm proud of the strength, and ashamed of the weakness. I'm ashamed of the cost.

I'm still learning the cost of the weakness. And let me tell you, there is a great cost.

What has it cost me? Health. Peace. Relationships. Friendships. Seeing truth. Hearing God. Seeing God. My memory. Quality of work. Love. Joy. Wisdom. Invaluable experiences. Emotional stability. And on, and on, and on.

I recently watched a documentary called, "Stress: Portrait of A Killer." It's on Netflix, and you should watch it.

I wish I could say seeing the science behind stress and the destruction of brain cells was my breaking point, but I'm a little more selfish than that.

On December 1st, I woke up at 3:30am and realized I didn't have any interest in getting out of bed that day, which would arrive in a couple of hours. Everything on my plate were things I had chosen: A good job (not involving physical discomfort and more than paying my bills), school (which I love) and a major I'm interested in, editing photos that I took because I adore photography, writing the mission for Love Bomb, and a handful of trite activities. None of these were miserable tasks that I'd been forced to complete, none of them were long-hated obligations that I'd been silently swearing against for years.

So why was I dreading the morning?

For the past two weeks, I've been searching for this answer. And I found it. It is because I do not rest.

Skipping a class and sleeping in an extra 2 hours because your entire body aches is not rest. Taking a day off work to catch up on overdue commitments is not rest. Splurging on more coffee at 10pm is not rest. Fighting against the guilt of being a month behind on housework and triumphantly choosing not to do them just yet is not rest.

If you are working relentlessly out of guilt or self-inflicted obligation, stop immediately.

If you think maybe you're working relentlessly because of guilt or self-inflicted obligation but aren't quite sure, stop immediately.

The actions that fill your days should come out of health, joy, love, peace, and heart.

If you've lost your passion, drop everything, and for the love of God: Go find it.

If you are trying to play savior to others, or to yourself, you don't know Jesus as well as you thought you did.

Rest is physical, emotional, spiritual and mental. The cost of not resting affects all three of those areas as well.

I am the poster child for anti-rest. I have taken it upon myself to destroy that quality in me. This past week, I have let go of the majority of my obligations, much to the dismay of the world I decided that I could save. Yesterday, the moment I was off work, I came home and crawled into bed. Yes, at 2:30pm. I slept for four hours. I woke up, read some, wrote a letter, talked to a friend, half-watched a documentary, and went to bed early. I overslept this morning. My entire past 2 weeks has looked like this. Lazy? No. I am resting. I am catching up on 8 years of rest that I never had. I am cooking real food and lounging on the sofa for an hour while I watch trash TV and eat my dinner. Lazy? No. I am resting.

Three days ago, a marvelous thing happened. I woke up from a nap, sat up, and said to myself, "I miss my friends!" I went downstairs, turned on a documentary, sat down at the table, and wrote a handful of letters. While I had my envelopes and stamps out, I wrote a letter to the girl I sponsor in Zimbabwe, and paid some bills. IT WAS FUN. I loved it. These were all things that normally are on my to-do list; things that drip with guilt. And in this moment, I realized why they drip with guilt: Not because I don't want to, but because I am too tired.

My body, mind, and heart have been screaming at me for years, and I just now heard them.

I will throw a brick at the next person who says to me, "I'll sleep when I'm dead," and consider it a service to humanity. I realize this is extremely hypocritical of me, but we preach best what we need to hear most.

I understand that it's hard. I understand that some of you are soldiers on multiple battlefields. I understand that for some of you, being "sister, mother, daughter, wife and friend" is not just some cute little description of you that hangs on a plaque in your bathroom. I understand that some of you are paying for others' mistakes. I have a word for you from God, the one who created you: "Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest." (Exodus 34:21)

I beg of you to rest.

If you cannot yet rest physically, rest spiritually. Know that, “my Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (Exodus 33:14)

If you cannot yet rest physically, rest emotionally. Know that, "the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders." (Deuteronomy 33:12)

If you cannot yet rest physically, rest mentally. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

And if you cannot rest physically, ask yourself the hard questions. Why have you committed to certain people? Why are you consumed with X, Y & Z? Why do you chase after the things you chase after? What are you doing that is your security blanket? What will you lose if you work less? Why will you miss what is gone?

The cost of not resting is great. If you don't believe me, do a word search for "rest" in the Bible. Or go watch "Ink" on Netflix.

Give yourself grace. And rest.

- - -

"Very well then,
with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people,
to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”;
and, “This is the place of repose”— but they would not listen.
So then, the word of the LORD to them will become:
Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that;
a little here, a little there—
so that as they go they will fall backward;
they will be injured and snared and captured."
Isaiah 28.

11 comments:

Han said...

My hubby has been upto the eye balls with the church production - he phoned me at 9pm yesterday after his meeting to say that he was going to stay at church and get stuff finished that way he could take the whole of today off and sleep till lunchtime.

He got into bed around 20 to 3 this morning - I thought I was asleep but I think it was a light sleep because I remember having a half conversation with him lol. I felt rough first thing this morning because I didn't think that I'd had enough sleep but now I'm fine.

kelly said...

i love you a lot, and i'm very proud of you and excited for you for this. it's about time you realized these things AND did something about it. i miss you a lot and i hope this rest serves you well. love.

lrs said...

i needed to read this. thank you so much for posting.

anya elise said...

You spoke of this need - this need that we all must be aware of and so often aren't - so beautifully. Thank you for your thoughtful words. :)

Becky Roode said...

Lauren,
Thank you SO MUCH for this post! I so needed to hear it from someone else.
I was actually working in a job that I dreaded just because I felt like I needed to be there so people wouldn't talk if I wasn't working on the regular.
I was continuously getting sick. Had never been so sick in the whole of my existence.
I finally quit my job back in September and began seminary around the same time (something I had felt called to for YEARS but put on the back burner thinking that there wasn't any time because I needed to be working full-time, right?).
I have become so much healthier.
I get to spend time with God. Time that was getting pushed aside because there was always work to be done...or I was just TOO TIRED to have that relationship...any relationship.
I started losing weight (which I have needed to do for a long time...it's part of the whole 'I'm healthier' thing).
I love my studies and my life right now.
Thank you for writing words that I've been carrying with me for the past several months, but never could say for myself.

Just me said...

Relaxation was good for me too last week - http://gettingoutofmyboat.blogspot.com/2010/12/perfect-day.html

You expressed all this so well and I can feel relaxation and peace shining out of what you've written.

I'm glad you let yourself rest - you deserve it :) xxx

Michelle (michabella) said...

1. I am so glad you have figured it out! 2. I recently read in my book, Feminine Appeal, about Sleeping to the Glory of God. Basically says Sleep is a gift from God. "He grants sleep to those He loves (Ps 127:2) and He makes our sleep sweet (Prov 3:24). Proverbs 20:13

<333

laurel said...

thanks for posting this lauren.
i recently decided to take this coming semester off, and this soooo reaffirms that decision. thanks :]

--laurel

Max Andrew Dubinsky said...

Lauren.
You nailed this.
I have always struggled with taking days off, feeling that God would not bless me at rest.
Especially when I decided to never work another 9-5 job again.
I like your style. But you already know this.

M.

Maria said...

so very true. rest is so important, we let the stresses of life get us down and affect us, and take over.

Jamie said...

I always read your posts right away and then think on them awhile before I comment. ;) They always give me so much to think about. I'm sure MANY people need to read this, myself included. Much needed and what you've shared is much appreciated. Life is just overwhelming and it's easier to get things done when we get enough sleep and rest and take care of ourselves. The saying "You can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first" is so very true! xo

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