I know it might seem really easy for me to talk about how important it is to “make time for rest” while recovering from surgery. But resting has never come easy for me. In fact, I used to tell myself and others that being busy was my rest. Sure, I would go through my calendar periodically and create intentional gaps of space (“margin“). But I struggled with downtime. I didn’t know how to rest.
And I suspect I am not the only one who has trouble in this area. If you (like me) find yourself saying “being busy is my rest” we should probably take a look at the definition of rest:
1. to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.
2. to be placed or supported so as to stay in a specified position.
1. an instance or period of relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity.
2. an object that is used to support something.
To truly rest means ceasing activity. To stop. HALT. [Hmmmm, where have I heard that before?] Rest is a means of reducing stress and recovering strength.
Sounds pretty important, doesn’t it?
I have talked this over with like-busy friends before and somehow our busy-ness always ends up being rationalized, justified, or both. While I never believed it was God’s intention for us to fill every second with activity, it was never as clear to me as it is now – after being forced to stop. In my stillness not only can I hear myself more, but God as well. Which I suppose is why the bible has so much to say about rest:
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14 (NIV)
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
Quiet down before God, be prayerful before him. Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder, who elbow their way to the top. Psalm 37:7 (MSG)
Teach me, and I will keep quiet. Show me what I have done wrong. Job 6:24 (NLT)
The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. Mark 6:31 (MSG)
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details. There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
As much as I tried to rationalize or justify my busy-ness, it is clearly not part of God’s plan for my body or life. As the surgical pain recedes and my body becomes stronger each day, I am working hard to be still and listen. I want to hear God’s small voice when he says, “Stop, that’s enough.” Instead of overriding/ignoring my body’s need for rest, I am slowing the pace and relishing in the moment – focusing on the task, instead of the task list.
And it’s not easy, not at all. But I am learning. And in the stillness I have come to realize that my worth is not tied up in productivity, that delegating is a good thing, and that most things can wait.