Something happens as we mature from kids to adults that makes the concept of REST incredibly difficult to do. Perhaps because it was forced on us as kids, we tend to believe that as adults, we don’t need it anymore. Resting is just for kids, right? Kids need to rest or nap during the day because they’re kids! Real adulting means we sleep 6-7 hours a night and go go go all day. Caffeine addictions are born from this way of thinking which is a very western based, American craziness quite honestly. We pride ourselves on our full schedules, massive to-do lists and insane amounts of busyness. Technology allows us to stay connected and multitask with precision. We can listen to books or podcasts as we commute long hours to ensure our self-development stays on target. Many of us automate parts of our social media so it looks like we’re totally engaged…while we’re doing other important things. WiFi hotspots allow us to sit at our kids sporting events and get work done at the same time. Let’s talk about driving, eating and talking on the phone at the same time! Seriously….we are multitasking ALL the time it seems.
No wonder we tend to feel guilty or old or even lazy at the idea of resting our minds and bodies. However, I believe there is a realm of possibilities that arise when we change our perspective on rest. The initial paradigm shift happens when we realize that REST isn’t the answer when we can finally admit to being completely exhausted. At its best, REST happens regularly to prevent us from ever feeling completely exhausted. Every parent will tell you that when infants or young children get overtired, complete mayhem is sure to follow. The same is true for us adults…we just try to hide it better. We all need REST to ensure optimal human performance in our thoughts and actions.
So now that we’re open to the idea of REST, let’s talk about how to engage in it to get the full benefits. The acronym REST stands for 4 actions….Reflect, Engage, Surrender, Trust It is based on one of my favorite verses – Matthew 11:28-30
Come to me, all 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Let’s dissect this a bit…
Reflect – This literally means to take a moment and reflect on your current state in life. Think through all aspects of your life. This could include a list as big as finances, family, career, health, love/relationships, fun/joy, spirituality and personal growth. By looking at life more holistically, we often realize that there are areas that are going quite well in our life and we can feel good about that. Understand that life is about balance and where our focus goes, energy flows. Focus on positive aspects of life and energy is more positive and upbeat. By the same token, reflect on where energy is going that is draining you….perhaps the load is a bit heavier than intended here.
Engage – This is a call to be present in the moment. “Come to Me” means to stop running around and just come and be present. Let go of the past for all it typically does is remind us of what we are missing or regretting By the same token, worrying about the future only serves to create anxiety and stress. Both of these drain our energy very quickly. The best solution is to sit in today…recognize it may not be perfect (when is it ever going to be anyway??) and allow yourself to just be there. Even when we acknowledge we aren’t where we want to be, we can also acknowledge that we’re further than we’ve been previously. Engaging allows us to celebrate progress.
Surrender – This is a big step. Surrender requires us to let go of our expectations (our yoke) that we are superhuman beings. Surrender requires us to just submit to being human and recognizing that as such, we need to slow down, perhaps even accomplish less and get okay with that (His yoke). Surrender also requires us to recognize that God has a plan and a timeline that doesn’t usually match our own. Unfortunately only when our yoke or burden gets heavy enough are we willing to out it down and seek a lighter more manageable load. This is the offering of regular times of rest:)
Trust – This is where REST becomes real. When we trust that God will do what He has promised, despite our misgivings and failures, we can truly find REST as it’s been designed. As long as we keep thinking we need to keep doing or earning or proving that we are worthy, we will never find REST. It will elude us until we recognize that as are merely kids to our loving God and He designed us for REST times…just like we set nap schedules for our kids.
So yes, take the initiative to schedule some REST time for yourself. Drop the burden of undue expectations and that good adulting means we are on the go all the time. Proper rest allows us to attack the day with a fervor and passion. Proper rest allows us to enjoy life more. Proper rest allows us to be more productive and less busy. Sign me up for that!