When You’ve Little to Show for Your Days: A Treatise on Rest & Renewal


You may be tired of reading about this “season of rest” but I’m not tired of writing about it. 

And when I’m not tired of writing about something it’s because I’m still knee-deep in the thinking and processing stage of the something.

Before I sent my kids to school I spent nearly 5 years homeschooling them. Sometimes I did some part-time work at the same time in order to earn a bit of extra money. 

And before that I was a working mom for 5 1/2 years.

And before that I was graduate student and part-time teacher for 4 1/2 years.

And before that I worked full-time and then part-time for 2 1/2 years while trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I was married during this time.

And before that I was in college for 4 years. I was a year-round student-athlete and I also served in student government throughout my 4 years. And of course there were the degrees I earned along the way.

And before that I was a good student and a runner, a daughter and the oldest of 4 children, involved in church and at school and a whole host of endeavors. I didn’t know life without stress, deadlines, and high expectations, most of which I set for myself.   

So I’ve been sort of busy my whole life. Until now. 

I don’t work outside the home. And because I’m not homeschooling right now, I work less inside the home. And while raising three children is most definitely work, lots of people do it so it doesn’t feel all that noteworthy or exceptional. It’s taxing, sure, but I’ve been a mom now for 11 years and you sort of grow into the job and into the everyday nature of it. Collapsing into the bed at night is just normal when you’re a mom. 

Bit by bit, I’ve taken off my various hats, put them away on the top shelf of the closet, and shut the door. I’m enjoying a respite from the busy-ness and expectation I’ve always known, at least for now, and do you know what? 

I’m sort of tired. Once you strip away the tasking and performing and the expectation, you’re sometimes left to feel what’s really down deep in its rawest form. 

Busyness can be a mask that keeps even the wearer fooled.  

These days, I’ll get the kids into bed at night and then collapse into my own. I’ll consider what I’ve accomplished during the day and honestly,sometimes I can’t really think of anything “important.” {Besides the lunch-packing, pick-up-ing, grocery-getting, dinner-making, sometimes writing, and sometimes laundry-doing. Again, that’s just the normal basics right?}

This week I’ve been fighting off a bug and I’ve taken 2 naps and spent one entire afternoon sitting in my driveway in a lawn-chair with a book. I made my kids fix their own snacks because I was too tired from, you know, sitting in said chair and having to turn pages. 

I’ve been staring for days at 5 stacks of folded laundry that will not put themselves away and I cannot walk into the boys’ room because there is literally no room to walk. None. It’s wall-to-wall, plastic-y, made-in-China-palooza in there and it’s been that way all week

I could have cleaned it up…or at least overseen their efforts to clean it up but I just haven’t been up to the task. Why is this whole non-working thing wearing me out? I’ll wonder. 

I was talking with my running partner this morning about my performance issues. How I’m struggling because I just don’t have a lot to show for myself by the end of the day and I don’t know what to do with that. 

She said, Girl, you’ve prayed for a season of rest. You knew you needed this. Enjoy it. Savor it. Don’t feel guilty about it. 

The truth is, I don’t really know what to do with rest. I don’t really know what to do with anything that doesn’t belong on a list, even if it’s just a mental list. 

I love rest, to be sure. {I’ve always been a champion napper.} But I don’t love feeling guilty about rest. It requires a complete rewiring of my performance-driven, perfectionistic brain. I will preach rest to everyone else; I’m just slow to heed my own advice.

Case in point: A couple of weeks ago I was talking with my sister-in-law on the phone. She has three kids, the youngest of whom has special needs and doesn’t sleep as much as she should. The past year-and-a-half has been an emotional roller-coaster for her and she’s doing regular life on top of all of that! I’m amazed. I think she deserves a medal and a nap every day and a maid.  

She said she was frustrated with herself for being a “bad manager of her time.” And by “bad manager” she meant that she read a book that day instead of cleaning the house while her precious baby decided to finally sleep. 

Well. I commenced to preaching and told her that reading a book was a supremely wise use of her time and that she should have taken a nap to boot. Oh, I preached some rest to this poor, tired sister of mine and then wondered why in the world she was being so hard on herself.

Until I recognized that I’m no different. 

I realize that some people are just wired to feel less guilty about rest. I try to make friends with these kinds of people. They are like fresh air and the ocean to me. I’m drawn to their freedom and realistic standards, probably because deep down, I know that theirs is a life that is centered on Truth.  

Life in Christ should not be a life of striving, stress, and unrelenting guilt. Busy-ness is not inherently holy. You will not see “completed to-do list” and “productivity” on the fruit of the spirit tree right next to “patience,” “kindness,” and “self-control.” 

This is what I tell myself. 

And this is the hard-fought Truth that’s trying to work itself out in my life–in my mind, my deeds, and my rest:


Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  ~Romans 12:2

These things take time, don’t they? And oh, it is hard to be patient with ourselves. 

Transformation and renewal begin in the mind and bear fruit in real life. Often we behave as if this is backwards. We begin with deeds and productivity and then hope that the necessary changes will settle into our thought patterns after we’ve “gotten it right” often enough. 

Renewal can take place through practices and in a variety of time frames but I’ve realized that, for me, rest precedes renewal and stillness precedes transformation. Sometimes it’s the hard stuff, seasons of trial, that force the issue. That’s my story at least. My current season of rest is probably not forever, but it is certainly for now. 

I am prone to spoiling the gift with guilt. I write to remind myself that gifts are given in order to be received. And enjoyed.

As we rest, we are renewed. And as we are renewed, our Spirit-filled minds are better able to sense, with clarity and confidence, the work that He has designed just for us. 

When I consider it this way? 

Rest doesn’t feel wasteful. 

It feels fruitful. 

Comments

  1. says

    welp. i needed to read that today.

    since increasing my white space i’ve been frantic that there’s nothing to fill it. i keep asking my husband: is this okaaaayyy?

    this morning i walked back from taking a nugget to school. it was good quiet time. the truth is the thing i want most is JUST to be a few things really surrendered. that’s all.

  2. says

    Yup, we all feel guilty about doin’ nothin’ since we’ve managed to accomplish so much before a much-needed time of rest. Throughout scripture the LORD encourages rest. So it must be important to Him.
    I need gentle reminders of this from time to time. Thank you for your wise words, Dear One.
    Hugs and kisses.
    Love ya!

  3. says

    Scooper,

    I can’t count the times I’ve felt the way you’ve described. It takes practice learning how to rest, doesn’t it?

    Simplicity is our family’s focus and one of the main focuses of my blog – if I ever find a voice for it. God and family and friends. We don’t need much more than that.

    Hope you’re feeling better.

    Love,
    Laura

  4. Anonymous says

    Been thinking lots about guilt (and mostly shame) since hanging with the lovely good girls this week……and talks with Zach about this very issue you wrote here about, this week, and the guilt he is feeling…..ohhh, how hard it is to go against the current of this world, and how easy to get swept up in the flow of the current. God’s perspectice on rest just blows my mind….an entire day, set aside, once a week, for this very important purpose…..Satan sure loves to do all he can to keep us from what God intended……hope you are recovering from your bug (and that impressive resume:))……jordan

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