Learning To Rest

Learning To Rest

If you’re tired, you’re tired, no matter what. If the life you’ve crafted for yourself is too heavy, it’s too heavy, no matter if the people on either side of you are carrying more or less.”

Shauna Niequist, Present Over Perfect

Resting makes me anxious. It sounds counter-intuitive but it’s true. I can’t sit down with a coffee and a good book without thinking that there’s something else I should be doing. It could be a mother’s curse; the inability to relax when you’re the centre of your family and everyone’s needs depend mostly on you. It could be the result of living in the world the way it is now; where anything that’s faster, better, and more efficient is rarely believed to generate negative consequences. More likely, it’s a function of my personality. After all, many people in my shoes don’t struggle nearly as much as I do with an inability to just calm down and let things go.

I thought what I needed was more time. But when I finally did get more time I found that things quickly filled up my spare hours. It wasn’t long before my time was once again used up and I found myself rushing around, trying to get everything done and wishing for even more time to do it all in.

That’s the key, then, isn’t it? The reason that I can never seem to slow down is derived from a sense that there just isn’t enough TIME. And that feeling of never enough can easily permeate all aspects of my life if I let it. That sense of lacking something, of always needing more, is born from a lack of faith in God’s provision. Because if God had deemed it necessary He could have made a twenty-five hour day. Or thirty. But somehow, twenty-four hours must be enough. And that means if I’m not able to complete all the work I need to do in that time then I need to examine how I’ve structured my days.

Easier said than done? Maybe. But just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it’s not necessary.

So I’m learning. I’m learning about the difference between “laziness” and “rest” because in my mind the two terms have always been synonymous. Hard work is a good and essential thing but too much of it with no real break is not good at all. There are many stressed out people in our society and stress, as I’m sure you know, can lead to a multitude of problems. Productivity has always been one of my favourite things but maybe it’s time to take down the trophies I’ve awarded myself for being the busiest, most productive person I know and re-assess what’s really important to me.

So, where do I start? I tried adding “Rest” on my to-do list and I failed miserably at it. This thing has to be accomplished in another way. You can’t force yourself to rest. I’ve learned that instead I have to make room for it. And that starts with saying “no” to things. Small things and big things and even some really good things that have meant a lot to me. But if it’s killing my peace of mind then it has to go. Maybe not forever but definitely for now.

I’m not good at saying “no” to people who need me, especially when I can tell they’re disappointed or even critical of my choices. But I’m learning how to make a decision and stick with it, regardless of what the consequences may be. There’s no other way to get to where I need to be.

The next challenging thing for someone like me is what to do with the space I’ve created by saying “no.” It’s kind of like cleaning out a jam-packed closet. There’s too much there so you start by pulling it all out and now the shelves are clear and you have to decide — what gets put back in? It’s a restructuring, a re-ordering of the way things are so that I don’t quickly get overwhelmed again or, worse, spend my time on things that don’t really matter.

Some people are good at all this but I know for sure that I’m not one of them. I’m great at attention to detail, organizing, efficiency, and of course, productivity. But relaxing? Not so much. But if I don’t learn this lesson I will rush through life, get lots done, and be quite proud of myself for it, yet risk missing the point of it all.

So if I say “no” to you, please understand it’s not meant as a personal affront. I’m not trying to be selfish. I’m mulling all of this over in my mind as I tend to do with the complexities of life. How some people are able to balance their lives so effortlessly I will never know. I need to create some space and think this all through for a while.

And, of course, I need some rest.

Please leave me a comment and tell me how you’ve learned to rest, why you think it’s important, or even how you struggle with being able to rest. I would love to hear your thoughts!

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