We’ve had a ministry wide “down week” this week, which basically allows the missionaries a break to spend time with family, regroup, and rest before continuing the school year. This is ironic because I usually don’t do well with rest. I often crave busy. I like the rush of adrenaline as I scurry around checking things off my mental to-do list. In the States, I’ll commit myself to more activities than I can possibly handle, because it makes me feel capable. In control. I have tricked myself into believing that I am stronger for overriding that little voice that whispers “stop!” Yet, I always reach the end of my rope and feel spent. Not rested and whole, but empty.
Here’s what I’m learning: I don’t NEED a busier life. I don’t need more checks on my to-do list. I don’t need to say “yes” to everything because I feel this need to meet someone’s approval. What my soul NEEDS is rest. Peace. Stillness. My soul craves communion with the Father. My soul needs more time, not to get more things done; but to abide.
I find it interesting that the definition of “rest” is as follows: freedom from activity or labor. The actual definition of “rest” means “freedom,” yet how often do I feel as though rest is binding, constricting, a burden? The complete opposite of freedom.
It’s not coincidence that scripture calls us both to walk in freedom AND practice rest (2 Corinthians 3:17, Galatians 5:1, Hebrews 4:9-11, Matthew 11:28) because the two go hand-in-hand. Rest is a product of freedom.
So this week, when there are no lessons to plan, no extra deadlines to meet, no meetings to attend, I have found myself practicing the discipline of rest. And oh how wonderful to go into a new work week feeling rested and at peace!
I’m learning that rest doesn’t have to look like stopping all activities, watching Netflix all day. It can look like that for some people, and that’s awesome. But for me, I have to mix it up between being alone while watching TV or reading a book and intentionally seeking out community. Rest is a break from work, a welcome pause from striving, but it doesn’t have to look the same for everybody.
Some of my friends rest and recharge by themselves. They hole up with a comfy blanket and Netflix and are quite content. Other friends of mine hate to be alone, so they will come and sit with someone else just to rest in the presence of other people. And I fall somewhere in the middle, between needing to be alone, but also craving that connection that comes by being with other people.
This week, rest has looked like quiet time with Jesus in the mountains, with a cup of coffee in one hand and a pen in the other, enjoying the view. It has looked like seeking adventure, hiking and scaling up rocks and jumping into icy cold water. Rest has given us laughter around the table, later dinners, more relaxed conversations. Rest has looked like community and sharing stories and getting extra dessert because we have the freedom to do so. Rest has been so many things this week, but I am so grateful.
Work makes my soul so happy and content. It gives me purpose and meaning and fuel to live each of my days. But rest. Rest is a settling, a quieting of spirit that allows space for more joy. Without rest, we would be weary. And who can serve well, love well, live well when they are weary?
I feel humbled by approaching this discipline that I used to absolutely hate, and realizing how much I actually NEED the practice.
It is well with my soul.