Rest is a very necessary component of life. We need sleep for our bodies to function properly, yet we need more than sleep to feel rested. We also need each day to include activities geared towards relaxation, recreation and rejuvenation.
In my early years, I robbed myself of rest. I was so driven, I would hurry up and get showered and dressed, so I could hurry up and eat breakfast, then hurry to work, and hurry through my job. After work I’d hurry home, hurry making dinner, and hurry through my chores, so I could hurry to bed.
My only rest was during sleep. However, that didn’t come easily, since I would lie awake in bed making mental to-do lists for the next day, week, and month. I lived life not for enjoyment, but accomplishment.
I was successful at it, too! I accomplished a great deal both at work and at home. In fact, I was one of the most productive workers at my company, and I had the neatest house and yard in the neighborhood. There was just one problem — I was miserable.
Unable to see any other way of being, I kept up this insane race until my poor, exhausted body gave out. That was 25 years ago, and I’ve been working to regain my health ever since. I learned the importance of rest the hard way, to be sure.
Now that I’ve finally made a long overdue self-care shift, I listen to my body instead of ignore it. When it feels fatigued I give myself the gift of rest. Sometimes this means going to bed early or sleeping in late. Other times it means relaxing with a book.
Lately, watching The Love Boat on MeTV has become my Sunday afternoon pleasure. It takes me back to being a teenager in Montana, when I’d watch it on Saturday night after the neighbor kids I was babysitting were all tucked into bed. If their parents stayed out late enough, I’d get to see Fantasy Island, too, followed by Saturday Night Live (in its glory days).
To be clear, rest isn’t limited to lounging around with a book or watching television. Creative activities, like gardening, sewing, painting and making jewelry, also offer restful recreation. Being creative re-creates us. It refreshes the soul in a totally unique way — and one I find absolutely essential to my own happiness.
The world tells us to work more, accomplish more, buy more, go more, and do more. God tells us to simplify. The world says, “Do! Do! Do!” But God simply says, “Be.”
Be still. Be at peace. Be patient. Be strong. Be joyful. Be grateful.
All the things God bids us to be give health and life. The clue is found in our name. We are, after all, human beings.
When we rob ourselves of the rejuvenation that comes from rest, we find it much harder to be human. Over-doing can take its toll on our relationships and our health. In fact, prolonged stress really can kill you.
The good news is you don’t have to let it. There is another way of being — and it involves a lot less doing.
Don’t get me wrong. I abhor laziness. We all have work to do, so let’s do it and do it well. But let’s also balance our work with the rest and relaxation we need to be fully human, fully alive, and fully blessed!
Remember . . . God created the Sabbath not because the work was done, but because the work is never done.