Something odd happened to me this morning.
I’ve been fighting a cold all week. It’s been a strange one–waxing and waning like the moon. For the most part, it’s been perfectly fine. For the most part, it hasn’t slowed me down. By, oddly enough, every day has had a couple of hours in it where I’ve found oxygen to be sorely lacking and my throat to be burning like I’d eaten a thousand Fire Stix candies from back in the day. This morning was one such morning.
I jumped out of bed at 5:00 am-ish, ready to tackle the day. By 8:00, I was limping along in a fog of fever and body aches. At 9:30, I talked myself into laying down for 30 minutes. I had a work call to jump on to at 10:30. 30 minutes of rest wouldn’t hurt.
Except, it wasn’t 30 minutes.
At 10:30, an hour later, I awoke in a complete panic. I guess that noise I was hearing was my alarm that had been blaring for the past 30 minutes. And, I was 30 minutes late for my work call.
I hastily dialed the call-in number and code, trying to shake the cobwebs from my brain. I pulled up the spreadsheet I knew we’d be examining. I started trying to orient myself as to where we were at in the conversation.
But, I didn’t need to do so.
Because, on top of having a cold, today is a day off for me.
A couple of weeks ago, I was informed by corporate that I had 120+ hours of PTO accumulated. I can carry 40 of that into the next year–the rest is a “use it or lose it” situation. And, honestly, I’d almost rather lose it.
Which is ridiculous. It is. Absolutely so. Why is it so hard to be willing to rest? Why is it so hard to be willing to step back a day from work? I am the farthest thing from indispensable to this company. I am–that’s the truth. I am gravy, they could definitely do without me. So, it’s not that I think my role is vital. But I am scared to NOT work.
I know I’m not alone in this issue. We drive, drive, drive ourselves not only in the workplace, but in many places. And, I’m not saying being a “driven” person is necessarily wrong or bad–but it can be detrimental. I realize that, and yet it’s like crack, I can’t stop using.
Here are some of the issues with rest that I see in my own life. Maybe you will relate:
Why does everything always seem to come down to this ugly word in my life? But, there it is. Pride drives me in so much of what I do. And it shouldn’t. I started to write here that there is a healthy form of pride, but there isn’t. Not really. Our boasting should come in God, alone. Philippians 2:3-11, James 4:6, Luke 14:11–and so many more scripture that I have captured to remind me of the place Pride has in my life. Funny, I can’t think of one instance where pride is spoken off in positive terms in scripture. Not a one. My pride keeps me from resting because I want to “prove” to the world something. What that “something” is, I’m not quite sure.
I know this is probably the biggest factor in my inability to rest. Abject and total fear. The weight of responsibility weighs so heavily on my soul that it is crushing at times. My crew deeply depends on my ability to provide for us. There is no one else. And that terrifies me. But fear also plays a larger role–it keeps me up at night, preventing me from getting adequate rest. It keeps me on edge 24/7 in so many ways. And, it is wrong, because it doesn’t come from God. And yet, it seems nearly impossible to battle. How many times do I have to return to Isaiah 41:10? Or 1 John 4:18 before I start living as if they are truth? I’m afraid (tongue-in-cheek, but not really, because I literally am afraid) that I may never get there.
Lack of Trust:
I can’t seem to settle and rest because I lack trust that God sees, knows and is in control. I worry, worry, worry. A ridiculous amount. And, so much of it is unfounded, unnecessary worry. But instead of taking a seed of worry captive, I water it with anxiety and allow it to grow much like the kudzu of the south. I know full well the words of Matthew 6:25-26, but I don’t find comfort in them; at least, not when I am in the throes of anxiety. My lack of trust–of God, of others–hinders my ability to rest.
Health and Discipline Issues:
I have long suffered from insomnia, for many reasons. Some of those reasons seem to be beyond my control, in spite of numerous attempts to “fix” them. But others are within my control. For example, I know that vigorous exercise during the day assists in better sleep at night. (I know. I keep nerdy charts) Limiting screen time before bed does as well–reading actual books seems to be a much, much better option for me. A clean house helps me settle for the night. When I fail to do these simple things, I sabotage my own ability to rest.
What to do?
So, what do I do with this? How do I balance work, parenting, church, other pursuits and rest? I don’t know. I am failing, miserably.
What I do know is that I’ve got to develop a better theology about rest. I’ve got to develop a better balance in my life. And maybe you do, too. When was the last time you took a day off just to spend it with your kids? Or to go to a movie, read a book, do something you enjoyed? Even holidays find me working–not because anyone else expects it, but because I expect it from myself. I do not have a good grasp of Sabbath.
And, that is sin.
I am bone-rattling weary, and it is my own fault. I am anxiety-driven, and the cause is me. There are way too many days, even, when I approach God in the morning as if I were approaching my to-do list. “Ok, God, here I am. I’m so glad to see you, but let’s hasten our meeting this morning so I can get to the more important stuff.” Ugh. Extreme Ugh. That hurt just typing that.
I must do better, but even in saying that, I realize that I am once again putting it in the context of “I have to work harder to achieve better rest.” Which gets me nowhere. Which adds “rest” to my checklist. Not saying it shouldn’t be on my checklist, but by only making it a checklist item, I negate the purpose of rest.
The purpose of the death of pride. The purpose of slaying fear. The purpose of leaning into Christ–trusting Him to be my all.
God’s good gift to us–you, and I–is rest. In Him. He gives sleep to His beloved. He gives rest to the weary. He invites to lie down in green pastures. He restores our soul. He gives us this gift because He sees and knows and loves us. He gives us this gift because He is God. He is my God. He longs to give rest. To you. To me.
He invites me to rest. It’s up to me, to accept that invitation. As Victor Hugo once captured in the words at the top of this post–God is awake.
There should be great comfort in that.