How to Rest

The line between self-care and selfish is not that thin. In fact, it’s not a line at all but a gorge with no bottom in sight.

A few years ago, my family took a day trip to Tallulah Gorge in North Georgia. We hiked through the forest to the beautiful waterfalls until we came to a swinging suspension bridge. Y’all, I don’t do swinging bridge’s hundreds of feet in the air that will surely plummet into the raging waters the moment I set my foot upon the first plank. Even now, my pulse starts pounding and my vision blurs at the memory of that bridge of death. Of course my children and husband thought it looked like a fun adventure, and unfortunately for me, it was the only way to the other side. My sweet daughter held my hand as I scampered across the bridge to the other side, and after several deep breaths, my pulse returned to normal, and we continued our hike.

We need to take deep breaths. We need to be still. We need spa days! Lots and lots of spa days. I’m near the end of a twelve-week creative recovery program, except it’s going to take me fifteen weeks to complete, but I decided if the tasks in the creative recovery program, like taking a long walk, were stressing me out, then I had permission to take more than one week to complete some of the chapters. The book is called The Artist Way by Julia Cameron, but it isn’t just for artists. As a part of the recovery, I am supposed to take an Artist’s Date every week. If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen a few pictures. Few is the operative word because I have not been faithful in these set apart times. Oh, I have rationalized a long quiet drive through traffic to pickup my child from a practice as an Artist’s Date, but I wouldn’t dare post a picture of such a sad example.

The truth is that it is hard to put aside time for ourselves, but we really need these times to refresh not only our creativity but also our spiritual life. We need to prioritize ourselves, and we don’t need to think of it as selfish to care about our own well-being. The chasm between the two is so great. The screen saver on my computer announces that treating myself like a precious object will make me strong. We need to be strong to serve others and most importantly, God. He most of all believes we are His precious children.

Jesus said, “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-29.

So why don’t we listen? Our Father told us to rest, Jesus told us to rest, and the Holy Spirit nudges and sometimes pushes us to rest. I don’t see rest as simply taking a nap. Although I do enjoy a sixteen-minute nap at least three days a week. (Sixteen minutes is the perfect length of time to reenergize you and not leave you groggy. Trust me. I have put this to the test.)

Take time to do what you enjoy. Give yourself the freedom to play. Relish in God’s creation. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Go for a walk. Watch the sunrise. Paint a picture. Write an encouraging note. Read a book. Plant a garden. What is it that brings you closer to God and refreshes your soul?

Don’t shake your head at me. I know you are busy, but God commanded us to rest, and we can do it! Yes, you will need to set up boundaries. Yes, you will need to avoid energy vampires. These are the people my husband tells me ignore the boundaries we set up and suck away our energy.

For me, they take my creativity with my energy, and I find myself exhausted and depleted. I’m learning to ask God what he wants me to do and who I should listen to for wisdom and direction. But it’s not always easy, and doesn’t it sound strange to suggest that we have to work at finding rest?

Of course some days and seasons are busier than others, but don’t let it become your normal. God calls us to different journeys and sometimes there are struggles, but Jesus wants us to have peace. “Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge.] John 14:27 (Amplified Bible).

One of the greatest gifts of following Jesus is not having to rely on our own strength. Give yourself the grace and freedom to accept this life-changing gift.

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