Three Ways to Practice Rest

Sep 2, 2021

My husband woke up at four thirty this morning with fever and chills. We had a big day planned for today—I had a full morning of work, some of the local ladies were going to come over in the afternoon, and then we had a long-awaited date night, just the two of us, to celebrate the end of summer and school starting.

But Marshall got sick, and so everything got quietly cancelled while he alternated between a few lowkey jobs and sleeping, and I tried to focus on work and remember what to do now that our busy plans were cancelled.

M was bummed to not be working, especially since his classes start next week which means he won’t be working as much—but I reminded him that most of the time when we get sick it is our body telling us we need to slow down.

It’s hard for me to slow down, though. Is it hard for you? I have enough Enneagram 3/Achiever in me to always want to go, to clean one more thing in my house, to do one more work task before I shut down for the evening.

But I’ve been like my husband a lot, going until I crash, and regretting it.

How do we rest when it is so easy to convince ourselves that the world will fall apart if we don’t hurry and get more done right away right now and if we stop then we will fail?

Remind yourself what’s true

We humans are a forgetful bunch. And I think it’s okay to realize that and then tell ourselves what’s true. Put a sticky note reminder on your mirror that says something calming like, “The world isn’t going to fall apart if this isn’t done perfectly on time.” Read a section from The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer every morning (I just finished the book, and it’s a perspective I really needed). The work will never totally be done. But because Jesus is in control of the world, I can relinquish my grip on it and let Him take care of details. It’s going to be okay.

Clean a surface

Maybe this one is counterintuitive—after all, rest should mean sitting down and doing NOTHING, right? Maybe. But often when I’m scrambling and at my wit’s end to get everything wrapped up and done and perfect, I run around to a bunch of different tasks, all restless like, starting lots of things and finishing none of them. Doing one. little. thing. and seeing it completed can be a reminder that the world ISN’T spinning out of control. I can clean one surface and then sit down and clean another one later. It’s going to be okay.

Go somewhere new

This is another way to actively rest. Often, a change of scenery and step back from normal life can be just as refreshing as “not having anything you have to get done” (which is usually what I think rest is). Let your mind and eyes take in new sights. Try a different food or drink or path to walk on. It’s a never-fail method for me, especially when I don’t have an agenda and can just be in the new place.

Rest goes against our nature. But it is worth it. We can’t afford and we don’t NEED to be a frantic, hurried people.

I’ll finish with one of my favorite quotes, from Tish Harrison Warren’s book Liturgy of the Ordinary: “What if Christians were known as a counter cultural community of the well-rested? People who embraced our limits with acceptance and even zest?”

  1. Chloe M. says:

    Thank you sweet Abby. These words I needed to hear. The last month of newly married life has been (well wonderful;) ) me turning from task to task, determined that everything will be done. Perfectly. And nothing will be out of place at days end. But these words GOD gave you are true. HE is in control and HE is a good FATHER! The LORD bless you richly.

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