A Year of Rest
I’m writing this post as I sit in Peoria’s airport waiting for a flight to Dallas. I’m going to visit my friend, Katie, and while I tend to hate sitting on a plane with the possibility of throwing up into a bag in the seat in front of me (a story for another time), this trip will definitely be worth it. In fact, this trip ties in perfectly with the idea of loving myself.
At the beginning of the last couple of years, I’ve tried to pick a “word of the year.” After working through one of my favorite goal-setting tools, PowerSheets, I spend some time praying and thinking about what word would fit my goals, dreams, aspirations, and needs for that year. After much reflection, this year’s word ended up being “rest.”
On the surface, this word seemed a little off considering the beginning of 2018 meant that I’d be working full-time and taking on more responsibilities within our church. Yet, I couldn’t get away from it. Rest. The word seemed so important, so critical in a season of even more to do.
I’m a girl who likes to-dos. I love lists and calendars and goal-setting workbooks. I love checking things off, and then adding more items. I like a full schedule, and sitting still has never been my strong suit. So, as the speed of life was certain to amp up, I knew I needed to make rest a priority, or I’d be completely depleted and ineffective. And besides, I was starting to truly desire more rest, more time away from the noise and chaos of life.
This desire for rest is a fairly new one. When I went through the Formation Community at Imago a couple of years ago, one of my main takeaways was a new approach to caring for my body. I became more disciplined in my exercise and eating habits, and I knew that I needed to find better rhythms of rest. I didn’t fully put those thoughts into motion, though. For whatever reason, that part was a little harder.
It seems fairly clear in Genesis that rest was part of God’s original design for humanity. God rested and later called us to observe Sabbath. Jesus was fully human and needed rest. I mean, he even napped in the middle of a boat during a storm. This man seemed to value his sleep. Yet, it’s so common for people to go weeks, months, or even years at a time without getting the sleep that they really need. In a culture that seems to wear our busyness and tiredness as badges of honor, I played that game, and as I do with all games, I played to win.
I’ll blame that part on my personality. As a “1” on the Enneagram, I will probably always notice what is undone, out of place, or in need of improvement. The pattern I have established over the course of my life is to jump right in and do whatever I can to make things better: Wash the extra dishes that were used even after I told Dustin I was done in the kitchen. Straighten the pillows on the couch to line-up the way they are “supposed to” look. Correct my girls for the 100th time on how to pronounce “pizza.” “It’s not pee-za, it’s peets-za.”
The hard part about noticing it all is figuring out what to do with the noticing. Sometimes my noticing really does help improve things. I can find ways to improve systems and processes that can help move ministries forward. I’m good at helping our girls work through their homework because I notice almost immediately the ways they are struggling, and I like finding creative ways to help them understand.
As it is with all of us, the best gifts I can offer to the world come in the same package as my worst habits and compulsions. It’s separating the two and walking that fine line between that gets tricky. So, in my constant noticing, I can choose one of two paths: I can engage, starting wherever I can to improve everything and everyone around me, or I can remind myself that it can wait. It. Can. Wait. Those words are hard for me to swallow most days, but I want to believe they are true.
Lately, I’ve been thinking, what if I flipped my ideas about rest upside-down?
If God created me with an inherent need for rest, that means the very act of sleeping is doing what He has asked us to do. And doing what he has asked me to do seems a lot like faithfulness, and even worship. I’m also reminded that God loves me and wants me to be healthy and whole, and the only way to get close to that is to make rest a priority.
This means that sleeping can be a holy act of cultural defiance in a world that tells us to “do more.” Sleep can beautifully demonstrate my utter dependence on God. Sleep reminds me that I am not self-sufficient, not an all-powerful being. When I say “no” to more busyness and just sleep because I need to, I demonstrate that I am God’s, and that the work in front of me (that will wait until tomorrow) is also His.
So this year, I’m sleeping more, and I’m also finding ways to rest that are life-giving and fulfilling.
For me, this looks like grabbing my planner, not to add in more to-dos, but to block out some times when I’ll be doing nothing, right next to the people I love. This looks like taking a quick trip to Dallas to see one of my closest friends, even in the midst of a busy season at our church. This looks like making sure to spend time away with Dustin to rejuvenate and remind ourselves how much we love just being together. This looks like coming home at the end of the work day and not opening my computer or getting on my phone to check one more email so that my daughters can have my full attention. This looks like taking a nap when the house is a mess because I’m just plain tired.
This is loving myself well because God loves me, and I know I’m worthy of that love.
Christina is married to her college-sweetheart, Dustin, and finds life with him to be fun and stable, two qualities she values highly. When she’s not watching “shows” that her girls Kaylynn and Kristin put on, Christina can be found at one of the local coffee shops where she spends her time writing, planning, or playing board games with Dustin. You can find some of The Hites’ foster care and adoption story here.