{Day 18} Real Rest: A Practice

Yesterday I talked about reasons for rest. It’s crazy that we actually need persuading to do something so necessary. It’s akin to giving a list of reasons for why we should eat. It should be obvious right? But it’s not.

As I mentioned, rest is a discipline for me. It’s not something that naturally comes easily. Maybe you’ve decided that you’ll rest when your kids leave home or when you finally die. But really, I’d prefer not to live my precious days feeling cranky, stressed, or zombie-like. 

Again, the practices I mention here aren’t the only or best ways to find rest. Well, sleep is a non-negotiable but other than that, it will take some thinking and seeking on your part. But I’ve found that God is so faithful to lead and shepherd His own. He created rest. He is our rest. He longs for us to rest.

With that said, these are some of the ways He has led my family and me to practice rest. I have to confess that some of these are sort of personal and I feel odd sharing things like where I pray. But for the sake of real and for the sake of rest, I share anyway.

Sleep. Pure and simple. Do whatever it takes to get enough. If you’re a stay-at-home mom and you’re tired in the afternoon, take a nap. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY for taking a nap or reading a book. You need it. You’ll be a better wife and mom. 

I know that the “should be’s” will still be there when you get up but you’ll have a different perspective towards all of it and hopefully have a renewed sense of energy. 

At the very least, lean back, rest your eyes, and chill. out. Trust me, it’s a good idea and somehow it helps.

The Word. I know what you may be thinking and I know how hard it is to find the time to be in the Word consistently. Especially if you have little ones who get up at 0-Dark-Thirty. 

It doesn’t look the same for me every day. Some mornings present perfect conditions. I enjoy an early-morning run and return while the house is still asleep. I grab my Bible, my journal, and Jesus Calling. It’s a beautiful start to the day. 

But for every morning like the one I just described, there are probably two or three when I’m not able to run and am instead startled awake by a hungry 3-year-old who has peed through his pajamas and wanted breakfast five minutes ago. 

The day begins abruptly. I’m not nice. It takes peeling myself away from the seemingly important at some point during that harshly-begun day to renew my focus. But if I don’t {and too often I don’t} I’m running on empty all day long. 

When I’m tempted to think that reading my Bible is perfunctory and therefore either dutiful or optional, I’m reminded of this verse: Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

The Word is life. Without it, I’m dying. Time in the Word infuses life and helps my soul find rest. 

My Van. If I run errands and I’m alone in my van, I pray. I know it may sound like I am trying to be crazy-righteous. But really, when you rarely have a moment alone, you are desperate. Several years ago I started praying in my van. Out loud. 

I felt a bit silly talking out loud when there was no one else in the car. Now it feels mostly normal. It’s a sweet time for me. My minivan is like a cathedral on wheels. God has used my prayin’-in-the-van time in some powerful ways. And when I come home, I feel as if I’ve had a little spiritual retreat. If you’re really desperate, go climb in that van while it’s still parked in the garage. It will take the kids a while to find you. 

Margin. I used to be a chronic over-scheduler. No more. I weigh every commitment, every yes, very, very carefully. It’s hard to say no to things you can sort of do well. 

Sometimes I miss those things but I find I enjoy life as a whole so much more when there’s some margin. We need space to think, breathe, create. It’s harder to do these things when we’re rushing from one commitment or duty to the next. 

Typically we only schedule one thing on the weekend {if any}. One. I get that life may not offer that luxury to you. You may have kids in soccer tournaments or gymnastic meets. I’ve realized that it won’t always be this simple for us. So far none of our kids seem like prodigies in any sport so we haven’t had to make tough decisions about traveling baseball or club soccer. 

We just don’t want to model a life of crazy for our children and we’ve decided that simple is best for us. Our kids may not be as well-rounded in arts or athletics but we feel there’s still time for all of that as they get older. We want to keep a slowish pace as long as we can.

A Break from the Routine. Change. It. Up. Routines are comforting but they can eventually become taxing, day in and day out. We’ve started taking more field trips as family. I try to surprise the kids with an impromptu day off to run in the park. I don’t know why but mixing it up and taking a break breathes life back into all of us. 

Corporate Worship. Worship centers me. That’s all there is to it. It’s hard for me to explain the utter lifted-up-ness I feel from the singing, teaching, corporate confession, fellowship, and sacraments. Gathering together with other broken and needy believers, worshipping our Creator, celebrating what He’s done for us–it strengthens and renews me every week.

Mommy Time-Out Days. Day after day of spinning homeschool plates while trying to keep up with everything else? Eventually I’m sweeping up shards and getting the shakes. This year I’ve resolved to take a day off when I feel the shakes coming on. I took one today. I got caught up on other stuff and enjoyed a bit of rest. My kids enjoyed playing all day. 

Resting when you can’t rest? Your life may not look like mine. Or it may look like mine used to. Maybe you work full-time or you’re in that season of feeling more like a taxi driver than a mom who can rest while her kids are napping or watching a movie. Perhaps you are so burned out, so ridiculously exhausted and you don’t see how in the world you’ll make rest a priority. 

Jesus is with you anyway. He wants to carry your burdens. Handing them over is the way of rest. As for the physical rest you crave and need, ask Him to provide. Ask Him to show you. In the process, you may end up reevaluating and reprioritizing some things. 

After reading this here lengthy post, you may well be ready for a nap. Go take one. You have my permission. 

So what about you? How do you find rest?

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and topics thus far.}

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