Moments of Rest for the Weary One
It’s January, dear reader, and maybe, like me, you’re already a bit exhausted?
Today I thought we’d all benefit by discussing ways to refresh physically and spiritually.
If you are too tired to read through this whole post, go take a nap, my friend. I won’t be offended. I think it was Jim Berg who said,”Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.” I always like that quote. Rest, after all, is God’s idea–and an important part of loving God with your body and resting in His sovereignty.
There’s nothing quite like climbing into bed after a long day and feeling the crisp, cool sheets pulled up under your chin and the contrasting warmth of a big cozy-soft comforter. So don’t misunderstand what I’m going to say next. I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer, I promise. But we should be careful how we enjoy our rest because rest is connected to worship just like every other aspect of life we can rest for the right reasons and the wrong reasons.
My rest isn’t just about me…and yours isn’t solely about you.
My rest/relaxation/mommy’s me time/self-care/whatever you call it must not become a demand or an escape when real life gets hard. We must never turn to escapism to bear the weight of our emotional, mental, or spiritual needs. We turn to Christ.
Am I down on spa days? Nope, though the very mention of them implies wealth and discretionary time that many in the world don’t have access to. But, if you do have the time and funds, and you don’t sin to get it or keep it, then hold it in thankful hands as a good gift. But if the good gift becomes a childish demand and takes hold of us as a luxury we must have in order to function or be happy, we’re propping ourselves up on something that can’t sustain.
If my rest time is making me more selfish or less-loving, it needs to be examined in the light of Scripture.
So let’s chat about caring for our bodies and souls by resting so we can do the good works God has ordained for us to accomplish.
Hindrances to Rest
Eat to Live, Not Live to Eat
Proper nutrition is not just a matter of eating healthy foods, but eating healthy portions. Eating too much of the wrong things weighs us down and slows us down. I personally feel tired when I eat too much white sugar and white flour products. I know that carrying extra weight due to poor food choices, a lack of self control, or emotional or mindless eating affects my energy level leaving me exhausted and unable to feel fully rested even after a good night’s sleep.
Part of living a disciplined life is practicing self-control, which is only doable when we walk in the Spirit. Self-control is the Spirit’s fruit, and a lack of self control shows the flesh is in charge. Self-control enables us to say NO to the flesh and keep it under subjection so we can walk as God commands us to, whether we feel like it or not.
Elizabeth George in A Woman’s Walk With God says “We need the Spirit’s help in the battle to resist fleshly urges in the common areas of life…like food and drink, purchasing and possessions, in all matters that are sensual and sexual in nature, and in self-indulgence of any kind.” (pg. 169)
Be Still My Mind
I’ve found that my body doesn’t rest if my mind is racing. Sometimes a quiet moment looks like rest, but I’m “resting-and-also-making-my-grocery-lists-whilst-writing-thank-you-notes-which-leads-me-to-remember-her-birthday-and-the-coffee-date-we-said-we’d-schedule-but-instead-lets-just-throw-her-a-party-and-now-I-need-to-order-streamers.”
Phone notifications also hinder rest. It’s helpful for me to silence my phone and focus on one thing at a time. This enables me to enjoy the meal I’m eating, really hear the child talking to me, or focus on the material I’m reading. I’ve even had to put my phone down to limit the number of pictures I take of my granddaughters. I don’t want to forget any of these precious moments, but that camera screen removes me a bit from the sweetness of the moment.
Multi-tasking promises we can squeeze just a little bit more out of our time, but I think it removes us a degree from our own work and makes us outliers in our own experiences.
Always Saying Yes.
You only have 24 hours a day, and if you want to work well on your God-given tasks, you can’t say yes willy-nilly without repercussions. You have to learn to say no very nicely to anything that would short-change your family responsibilities or main life objectives. “Oh, that sounds like fun, but…” “Oh, I wish I had a clone but….”
Part of being a disciplined person is saying no even pleasant things so you can live out your God-given priorities.
Planning for Rest
Each season of life will give us more or less flexibility for saying yes based on our family’s needs, responsibilities, stages, resources, health, wellness, burdens, finances. The mother with an infant in arms and homeschooling her other children will say no more often than when her children are older and more independent. When you are trying to establish sleep schedules and family dinners, you’ll have to say no to things that would keep you outside of the home so you can cultivate the habit of the family table. You may have to say no to ministry opportunities and or engagements outside of the home so that you can tend your own garden, so to speak, and disciple your own kids. Peter and I sit down every fall and new year to plan upcoming months. I cover that here in this old post about priorities. I’ve found that penciling in plans and priorities onto our calendar three months in advance gives us a realistic view of our discretionary time.
During our planning times, we discuss:
upcoming ministry activities in our church, ministry opportunities for both of us outside of our church, family travel plans to visit our married children, appointments, vacation plans, family celebrations to host, a hospitality calendar, homeschooling co-op activities, kids schedules and how much (or how little) we will run outside the home.
When you combine these extras with your daily responsibilities of work, school, home care, and just plain good living including the real things of life like cooking, baking, reading, making music, writing, corresponding, crafting with your children, painting, drawing, sitting with your thoughts, engaging your child’s thoughts and questions….you’d be amazed at how much time that all takes.
Rhythms for Rest
Realize every commitment has a consequence on your time. If you over-commit, or don’t plan your time at all, it still passes and will be eaten up by activity or neglect. Your time, once loss, is non-refundable. Choose wisely.
I’ve found that block schedules work well in our homeschooling family. They help me pace myself and keep from the pitfalls of over-running which leaves me frazzled or under-performing which results in disorganization because I’m not prepared.
Practically, it looks like this:
Early morning hours for getting ready for the day’s work, doing devotional reading, having coffee and breakfast.
Mid- morning hours for heavy physical work (laundry, weekly cleaning schedule, meal prep) and the children’s education.
Afternoon hours for lunch, lessons, appointments, and other enrichment like reading, painting, music practice, co-op, having a friend over, or learning a new skill.
Evening hours include pick up for dinner, last minute meal prep and setting a table, dinnertime, clean up, family devotions, bedtime routine, and preparation for the next day. This time frame can easily become hectic with young children.
Later evening, I try to regroup by reading a book, having a cup of tea, or watching something light with Peter and Hope. I find that watching the news in the evening is not good for my brain or soul, so I plan NOT to see it. (Who thought evening news was a good idea!? lol)
Weekly Rest or Spiritual Encouragement
If you can find one or two hours a week to take a mini-retreat, you’ll find yourself well served and encouraged.
If you have many young children, the change of scenery and pace will benefit you whether you meet with a friend for lunch, walk around town and take in some shops and local beauty, or take a drive and listen to uplifting music or a podcast.
If you can’t leave the house, include your kids in the mini- retreat. Get some special snacks, brew some tea, and throw comforters all over the living room floor. Give them a special toy, or put on a video that they look forward to viewing, and as you all rest, you can read, listen to a podcast, or work through a few chapters of a book. Or if your children still have a nap time, use that time slot to read and dive deeper into God’s Word.
You could start a study on a book of the Bible or a topical study in an area that interests you. Some ideas might be church history, hospitality, the concept of authentic love, friendship, prophecy and Christ’s fulfillment of it. You could study a godly virtue you want to grow in like self-control, kind speech, wisdom, or humility. One year I did several extended studies on Jesus in the gospel and and how he related to the people he ministered to: his words, his touch, his priorities, his schedule. It was a fascinating study. I’ve done studies on women in the Bible and the works their faith (or lack of faith!) produced.
Some resources to get you started:
Sermon Audio is a resource of sermons, teachings, and seminars searchable by topic or speaker. As always, be discerning.
BlueLetterBible.org is a wonderful tool for Bible study. As you read the Bible passage, you can click the tools links on the left of each verse to see the original text, Strong’s numbers, cross references, commentaries, and dictionaries, maps, and study tools. This site also has many resources for women including Elisabeth Elliot’s old radio programs.
Audiobooks are another way to learn and grow and Christian Audio has a free monthly download. (Currently free: The Necessity of Prayer by E.M. Bounds)
I pray these practical resources and ideas will inspire you to be a student of the Word and will help you find rest, refreshment, and encouragement for your Christian walk.