{Fourteen Months Later} Rest, Giving Up, and Receiving My Own Life

Fourteen months ago I submitted to a sabbatical of sorts, an unknown number of months devoted to the “task” of resting, healing, and receiving Grace. I called it “The Year of Simplicity.” 

We put our kids in public school after nearly five years of homeschooling. I resolved to say No more than Yes. My husband has been good and kind about enforcing margin and boundaries. He shows me lots of grace for my lack of accomplishment. 

In fact, I seem to be the only one who’s really concerned with the “lack.” 

Many months later, it still feels indulgent to write about it. And more often than not, it still feels indulgent to live it. Some days I feel like I don’t need the rest anymore so I plow ahead, taking full advantage of that day’s energy and feeling like a normal person again and wanting to pat myself on the back for productivity on a “good day.” 

After all that I’ve learned, my default is still to equate personal worth with personal output. Where is the grace in that? I’ve said it before: Exhaustion is a bully.

Usually a day or two or three after one of those productive days, I crash. Overpowered by unexplainable exhaustion and its accompanying discouragement, I get the bare minimum done and wonder how someone can be so consistently inconsistent. 

A few weeks ago I saw my doctor. My newest charts show that I’m getting better, but I still have a long way to go before I’m “there.” She encouraged me to be patient, to take heart that there is measurable improvement. And I feel it, I do. It’s just hard to wait. 

I realize that I write in vague terms here on the blog. That’s just the way it has to be. We all have our stories and though mine could certainly be far worse and tragic, it’s safe to say that it’s been a rough two years. In all honesty, it’s been a rough seven years, with some acute crises along the way that threatened to undo me altogether. 

Details aside, here’s what I know: Cumulative emotional stress will eventually have its say. You can only keep truckin’ for so long before you run out of gas and find yourself broken down on the side of the road. For me, that broken-down day came in December of 2011. Life since then has felt like one extended pit-stop. {Stop the world. I just used a Nascar metaphor.}

Some people receive grace and are less prone to guilt than others. I envy them. Sometimes I have to bury my head in the sand in order to avoid the good messages that my own brain twists into condemning lies. Look what she’s doing with her life; she’s not making any excuses. 

And then guilt spirals into shame and shame sucks out the precious little anything I had left. 

We all do life differently and even though we’re called, as Christians, to shine light into the dark and downtrodden places of our world, there are seasons in which our own light is burning so dimly, we simply have to retreat, if only for a time. 

I remind myself that God doesn’t need us to accomplish his good in the world; He’s all-sufficient. But He invites us into sacred, beautiful, messy kingdom work for our good and for his glory. For some crazy reason, He chooses to use us. 

On my good days, I’m inspired when I see what this looks like in the lives of others even if it looks nothing like that in my own life. But on my loser days, I’m more guilt-ridden than inspired. I tell God that if He’d just help me out a little and fix what I want Him to fix, I could do so much good in the world.

Instead, He shows me that my struggles and ongoing redemption are exactly the good He’s ordained for me and for my family, for now, in our own little corner of the universe.

After seventeen plus years of marriage, I’m learning {so slowly} what it looks like to love my husband and to receive his love for me. We are very much in the trenches of rebuilding and let me tell you, it’s work. Emotionally-draining, spiritually-taxing work. Day after day of that will tire you out physically as well. For so long, I didn’t make the emotional / physical connection. {Please, just take my word for it. If you’re in a really emotionally-draining season, prepare to be physically tired and arrange your life accordingly.}

After twelve years of motherhood, I’m realizing {also very slowly} what it looks like to mother each child with grace and love and freedom. And that is also work

My days are simpler than they’ve been in the past but they’re richer in a way too. Sure there’s the laundry, the grocery-shopping, the taxi-ing. But so very organically and sweetly, God is allowing my quiet life to intersect with the lives of other broken and struggling women. In living rooms and coffee shops, via e-mails and blog posts, Grace is doing its upside-down, inside-out, backwards thing. Beauty out of ashes. Community out of brokenness. Encouragement out of suffering. Healing out of scars. Fruitfulness out of rest. 

It’s just…happening. I’ve done nothing to orchestrate it. I only say Yes and receive it. 

I recently scribbled this in my notes of The Ragamuffin Gospel

Is the Gospel of Grace the difference between receiving versus doing? Is the Christian life more passive than active? Responding to His lead instead of driving along as one would in an old carriage, beating life with the whip of law and control and expectation rather than knowing we are uniquely led by a loving God?

I’m no theologian but I’m discovering that great fruitfulness and freedom can be born out of giving up. And if anyone has professionalized giving up, surely it is me. 

On days when I wish I could measure my productivity and have a bit of my old self back, it’s steadying to survey the larger picture, to see that God is working and moving even when I feel like I barely am. 

You can’t rush rest. You can’t Red Bull your way into a functional person. You can’t rebuild in a month or even fourteen of them what slowly decayed and crumbled over many years. You can’t live someone else’s life or adopt their M.O. 

You can only receive yours.


  1. says

    What an encouraging entry!! You have always been one of my favorite people, Marion. I have always had such a special place in my heart for you. Your insight is so encouraging and vulnerable. Struggle really changes us! I have had several years of it myself. Lots of letting go and grieving what has gone and trying to look to what God has in store for the future has been quite an experience. It can be very lonely and scary. God is so good to teach us so much along the way. I would love to get together some time to hear more. The way that you use your words is such a blessing. Much Love!
    Missy Huss

  2. says

    Thank you for sharing your words. I’m pretty sure you’ve just articulated perfectly the season that I am also in – one of ups and downs, sporadic energy and high hopes, crushed by bone-weary emotional fatigue, rest and striving, waiting. My struggle (15 months now) is with postpartum depression. I keep finding that in moments of “striving,” I muscle my way ahead and often forget to allow God to lead me. And how soon, then, I’m gently reminded that I do need a savior. And so it’s a time of rest and listening again. My mantra lately has become Psalm 46:10 …. Cease striving and know that I am God. Hang in there and rest. See, you are doing great work right where you are. Right now :-)

  3. says

    Oh girl, I so feel your pain today. I’m just exhausted. It started yesterday when I had worked myself up for a confrontation with my 14 year old and blew completely up when my husband came home with a drum set. I blew his world apart by being so upset and I am just left with nothing. I want a hole that is cold and deep with a fluffy blanket and a pillow. I want no one but my Creator.
    March is a tough month with lots of travel for work and lots of alone time for me. It comes to an end with Spring Break that right now feels like more of a task than a treat. I need rest so badly. But there are drums. And a life. And dinner. And stuff that needs to be done but I don’t want to do. Want to run away together just for a bit??

  4. says

    i resonate with much of what you say here. A few years ago God pulled me away from all the productivity, and all the praise of men that came with it, and transplanted me into “be still and know that i am God.” “being still” was hard and oddly good. honestly, i am learning that sanctification is what he desires for us…i’m even discovering that i love and desire the sanctification of the spirit more than the praise of men.

    i pray that the LORD continues to magnify Himself and glorify Himself in you, to you, and through. I know He will for that is His way.

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