For Christmas I received a watch/fitness tracker. Though initially bought to track steps , sleep, and to not be reliant on my phone for the time - I have been intrigued by the daily stress levels measurement tracker.
It turns out that I have very few moments of measureable rest in my life. The app for my watch tells me almost every day, "You have almost no restful moments today. Stress consumes your body's resources. If you are stressed for long periods of time, you may become exhausted." And how do I feel the majority of the time? Exhausted and often unsure as to why.
This little watch has caused me to examine my "resting" more carefully and what I have noticed is that I don't rest very often. I rarely ever sit down. The epicenter of activity in our house is the kitchen and I have spent entire days just standing or walking around in my kitchen. At the end of today I have taken 7300 steps without even leaving my house!
I know that several times through out the day I zone out on my phone. But staring at my phone and perusing social media and the news does not register as restful on my watch. It can be interesting and informative, as I have great friends on social media. But I also have reactions to the things I read in articles -dread and fear for the world and my children, frustration at world leaders, frustration at others opinions or a sense of comparison or discouragement while looking at social media. It isn't very restful.
The concept of resting in the day is pretty foreign to me. I come from a long line of hard working, high capacity people. If you want something done - ask one of my family members and it will get done (and they'll probably make you a meal and make you laugh in the process). They are good people. And hard work is important to learn how to do. But so is resting.
Even as I write this I am thinking, "I hope I'm not encouraging people to be lazy by bringing up the concept of rest." Oy vey! I have a ways to go on this subject. So you can imagine that the concept of sitting down for 10 minutes, a couple times a day and being restful and not productive was not something on my radar until my watch pointed it out to me.
Jesus says, "Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) I remember reading this verse in Coventry Cathedral and tearing up. The promise of Jesus is just so good. My body craves rest but I have often been at a loss as how to truly find it. That word "heavy laden" actually means "to over burden yourself". Jesus is telling us that much of what we carry has not been asked of us, has not been required of us. We are hurting ourselves with the extra things we pile on but He is willing to take it. He goes onto say, "Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:29-30) The yoke of Jesus' yoke is a real yoke and there is sacrifice and challenge in following Him but Jesus says that His yoke is actually EASIER than the burdens we have put on ourselves! The burdens of over-production, the burdens of misplaced responsibility, the burdens of too much activity. There is a lot to unpack here.
The burden that keeps me from resting is the need to be productive. I value having "something to show at the end of the day" so much that I can't sit down two times a day for 10 minutes and rest. What if someone were to find out that I didn't accomplish anything today?!?!?! (I recognize the problems with these attitudes but am trying to present them honestly).
The laundry, dishes, bills, meal planning, and even snacks CAN wait in order for me to take better care of myself. Supper CAN be 10 minutes late if it means that I took 10 minutes to sit down and rest. An email or bill payment CAN be 10 minutes late. Resting allows me the opportunity to be taught by Jesus, to quiet my heart and mind before Him, to rest in Him, and welcome His peace into my life. God designed my body in a way that it would need rest. Perhaps he knew, if He didn't, we might never do it. And resting is not just once a week, though that is very important, but every day. To live in a way that has space for rest so that I can live more fully and whole.
2018 has started me off on a journey to discover rest. Rest that is not productive. Rest that has no guilt. Rest that is holy. Rest that is a daily act of taking on Jesus' yoke and laying down my "over burdens". Here's hoping I have more days in 2018 with nothing to show for them. More moments of rest. I have no idea what I will do for 10 minutes when I rest, I'm always open to suggestions.