I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t make self-care a big priority in my life. Until a few months ago, I didn’t see the importance of it…it honesty seemed like a waste of time. I rarely wake up later than 6:00 (even on the weekends). I don’t like watching T.V. without either working on research, writing, or reading at the same time. I find it almost impossible to sit still for an extended period of time. I do take naps-but it’s only when I have exhausted myself enough in the AM to justify the “lazy day” activity. I hate wasting time and doing things that I don’t think have a purpose. It would about kill me to lay in bed and watch Netflix all day. I feel like I always have to be doing something. I want to be a good wife, sister, daughter, friend, writer, dietitian, Christian, and so on. Because of this, I always feel like I have to be doing something-no matter what that something is.
I have seen a pattern in my life over the past few years that I’m not too proud of. It seems “more efficient” for me to trudge through each day until I am exhausted and collapse. I tell myself that I don’t have time for rest everyday…but that a couple of hours each month will do the trick. I realize that I have a tendency to neglect rest and self-care until I am physically sick or in emotional despair. Last week I got sick- really sick.
My stomach wasn’t feeling too great. This isn’t really out of the ordinary due to the nature of my chronic GI disorder, IBS. However, this time was different. I had a major headache, felt nauseous, and lacked major energy. I knew I needed sleep, but I was going to try to avoid it while I could. I came home from work that day and slept from 6:00 PM-9:00 PM, and then 10:00 PM-7:00 AM. The next two days I slept.
As you can imagine, I hated it. I had to rearrange my schedule and cancel all of my plans. What an unproductive weekend, or so I thought.
What I didn’t realize is that weekend was exactly what I needed when I needed it. The fact that I could sleep so much within a 48-hr time span was unreal to me. It opened my eyes to the fact that I’m really bad at taking care of myself sometimes.
I wanted to figure this all out, so I went to the one who I know knows me better than I know myself. I asked God to help me process my excessive need to be busy. I know that even God rested, that Jesus often went and spent time alone praying and processing through his day. If God-the creator of the universe, the most mighty one, my sovereign king-took the time to intentionally rest-how much more must I need that?
I realized that my view of rest said a lot about my view of God-and not in a good way.
My unrelenting desire to do the best, be the best, and do the most only shows how little I think of God sometimes. If I really trusted in his sovereignty, his provision, his plan, his goodness, his kindness, and his unchanging nature, I wouldn’t feel the need to try to work all of those things out on my own.
Father, forgive me for trying to depend on my own self-sufficiency, for my desire to perform for acknowledgement & praise, for not trusting in your provision, and trying to make a way for myself. Lord I praise you that you make a way for me. That I don’t have to have everything done on my checklist to be following your will. If anything, my check lists get in the way of real rest in you- with all adoration, praise, and worship. Lord I am defeating myself when I choose to neglect the times of rest that you invite me into. Rid me of my pride and change me. Help me to see the value in rest and self-care. Help me to rest in your finished work, the price you have already paid for my salvation.
Taking time to rest isn’t selfish; it’s making sure that we are filled up enough to pour into other people. If we are only filled up half-way, that’s all that we will have to give. Rest isn’t a waste of time. If anything, it’s a necessary, precious, much-needed gift that we must not take for granted. It’s as important as eating 3 meals a day and drinking water.
Because we live in a culture that boasts in our business, it’s easy to be caught up in that. I know I often (if not always) am. But there’s a difference between healthy productivity and being in a chronic state of unrest. It’s a hard balance to find, but when we fix our eyes on who God is rather than all that we have to get done, His presence + provision + guidance don’t compare to our biggest to do list.
Why live in a constant state of un-rest, anxiety, and exhaustion when God has allotted us time in each day to rest, recharge, refocus, and re-energize? The time is there, I promise you it is. It just depends on whether or not we make self-care/rest a high priority on our to-do list.
I used to think that exercise alone was all of the “rest” and “self-care” that I needed. Burpees, mountain climbers, knee-tucks, box jumps. All things I enjoy. All things that help relief some stress. But is it really truly resting? No. When my heart rate is elevated, my body is dripping sweat, and I am longing for a drink of cool water, I’m not resting. Stress relief? Sure. Healthy? Maybe so. Restful? No.
For me, rest looks like prayer, singing in the car, watching TV with my husband, petting my dog, talking on the phone to a friend, listening to worship music, daydreaming, taking a nap, deep breathing, working on DIY projects, going outside and feeling the wind on my face. Sometimes writing, sometimes reading, sometimes not.
The chronic stress, anxiety, and physical sickness pop-up more often than not when I am refusing to take care of myself. But I am thankful that God is teaching me that it’s OK to enjoy his creation, to receive his gifts, and to enter into His rest.
With Jesus, there is no work to be done that compares to the finished work of the cross.
With Jesus, we are saved by grace-not good works. We are loved because of grace-not good works. We are cherished and adored because God is love-not because we have done all that we want to do.
With Jesus, I don’t have to figure out life all on my own.
With Jesus, there is always provision.
With Jesus, there is no lack.
With Jesus, there is time for rest-something that is such a great need for me…for everyone.
This labor day weekend get some fresh air, enjoy the beautiful weather, & embrace the gift of rest.
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; or anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest…” -Hebrews 4:9-11