Eighteen months ago, I faced a crisis. Exhausted and scared, I felt trapped in my job, knowing that I couldn’t fulfill my expectations. The only life I knew was a busy one-and I thrived living that way. I was good at keeping up with long distance friends, being involved in many things, and people often encouraged me for my intentionality and my ability to balance all my activities. Yet, I was facing the fact that I couldn’t “do it all” anymore. Fatigue had gotten to be too much, and I needed to say no.
But I was terrified. Quitting my job? This was not the kind of decision that Alyssa Storrs made. But I did.
What I did not know at the time, was that I was scared to rest. Scared to know who I really was without the busyness.
Rest is an invitation, but for so long I viewed rest as an inhibitor. I longed to not miss out on life, so I despised my brokenness and my weary body. I grew jealous of all the 24 year olds who get to live a healthy, energetic life. There is a place to grieve my fatigue-and I still grieve it every day. I cannot escape what I am unable to do. It took time to realize that I needed to rest, and I needed to learn to enjoy it as much as I could.
Rest is an invitation, but rest is hard. Especially if a restful lifestyle is the goal, and not just “coming up for air” every few months, gasping for breath because life is relentless adrenaline. I realize in this discussion that all of us are called to different amounts of activity and of rest, and that a conversation on rest still could be stomping grounds for comparison. Yet, if we’re honest, saying no and being honest about what we need is hard.
Some things that replenish me are easy to do and I naturally enjoy them. Sometimes restful things are still hard work because I am not naturally drawn to them. Restful or healthy things for me to incorporate into my life include: cooking, yoga, reading, walking, writing, time with people one-on-one or in small groups. My list includes more than this, but this activities are regularly incorporated several times into my week. They are my healthy ‘weekly rhythms.’ I’ve had to work harder to incorporate cooking and yoga. My diet has changed so much in the past year, so I need to re-learn how to grocery shop and give myself more time to make meals. Since I used to run regularly and am naturally drawn to cardio workouts , I didn’t like yoga at first. Since it’s harder for me to stay motivated doing yoga regularly, I try to go to a group class once a week.
On a restful Indy downtown walk this winter
Rest is an invitation to know yourself better. I’ve had to struggle and grieve in rest’s free space. I’ve learned to celebrate small victories, even if the victory is “I’m less frustrated.” I’ve reflected and seen how my busyness has hurt people, and when I do not take time to reflect I do not see my sin clearly. Through resting, I have a deeper commitment to learn and grow, even if it’s in the smallest of ways. In rest and adding margin to my life, I have an added flexibility to rearrange plans. I take myself and my plans less seriously. Rest allows deeper enjoyment in life-whether rest is being outside, watching a show, or eating a meal more slowly with friends.
Christ offers the invitation of rest. He welcomes those who are weary. He does not despise us. For feeling burdened and tired is a human condition. And He loves us as human, so we don’t have to strive to be superhuman. Rest and be bored. Rest and enjoy. Rest and realize who you are. In the moments of margin, we encounter the One who calls us to rest.
How do you define yourself in your rest? How do you think Christ views you in your rest? What rhythms of rest would you like to incorporate weekly?