Rest. Typically not a word in my vocabulary.
I was coming up to the weeks before my vacation, barely hanging on by a thread. I didn’t even notice how tired I was. My body moved slowly, numbly in its predictable, mechanical motions of the day. Though I accomplished all of my responsibilities, it grew challenging to be present, much less to focus. I could hardly tell how cloudy my mind had become. How disconnected I felt. Unsteady.
The travel rituals that usually include a fun summer read, some writing, catching up on emails, this time contained sleep and a half-dozed perusal of The Shack, that I had wanted to see for some time, but now could barely recall any scenes, if you asked. My only collected awareness was that the seat beside me was miraculously empty, leaving me just enough space to twist my feeble limbs in a sequence of contorted positions, all in pursuit of a little rest.
The first few nights away I noticed how heavy my sleep was, as if someone was holding me in a cavernous, murky, basin of darkness, which I was helpless to fight against and could only shyly succumb. It felt good somehow. Slowly, sweetly, sleep became more rhythmic, more unassuming, allowing me to wake rested and refreshed.
Was my body finally telling me that it had worked too hard, carried too heavy a load —or was I, for the first time in a long while, listening? It can be so hard for me to listen sometimes. Hard for all of us, if we’re honest.
Exhaustion is Normal, but it Shouldn’t Be
Have we grown so accustomed to silencing the needs of our bodies that the state of exhaustion is normal? Have we developed patterns of pushing through, all the while applauding our woeful disregard for our soul’s care and nurturing?
We live in a world where late nights and early mornings validate our human struggle, where doing without physical or emotional sustenance equates with a personal suffrage of sorts. We pass the days telling ourselves when this project is over or this season is done, then we can rest, then we can breathe. Quietly, we believe our own lies.
Lies that tell us —
… we are not enough.
… we don’t deserve good things.
… love must be for others, not for us.
… we must strive.
… we must earn.
… we must prove our worth.
Ever feel that way? Ever feel the swirl of self-defeating, self-condemning lies that invade your mind with the power of a hurricane and knock you to the ground, pulling you away from yourself and away from the rest that would be the medicine for everything that torments you and keeps you chained to your perilous busy?
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Reclaim Your Heart
To tend to everyone else’s problems, to meet everyone else’s needs, seems easier, doesn’t it? Easier to numb our messy feelings than to have them spill over into our disinfected and whitewashed heart spaces. Easier to stay strong than to make ourselves vulnerable. Easier to do than to be.
We live our lives this way, one day to the next. Capable and functioning. Excelling. Surviving. We find ourselves at once too busy trying to BE God that we are never transformed BY Him.
And still, somewhere deep inside, in the shadowed places no one knows, the very depths we try ourselves to avoid, we are weary. We yearn for rest. Heart rest. Soul. Rest.
God created us for rest. It is a pilgrimage we must choose, to follow our heart and to follow our Abba, Father to His rest.
Isaiah 30:15 (ESV) tell us that, For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’
One of my favorite passages, Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV) urges us, Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
That word. Rest. Say it. Inhale it. Over and over.
When we finally stop trying and start resting, start allowing His love to pour over us and into us, we find Him changing us in the strangest and most intimate ways.
We start believing—
… we are loved.
… we are the Beloved.
… we can make room for ourselves, for Him.
… we don’t have to live striving.
… we can do less.
… we can breathe.
… we are enough
In the midst of hectic schedules, busy routines, men, women, moms and dads, need rest as a crucial, though often forgotten, key to their emotional wellbeing. Find out why rest is so important for you, too!
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We All Need Emotional Margin
"Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us." ― Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now
What does your emotional margin look like? Where does rest exist in the rhythm of your routine?
Claim it. Cultivate it
Rest is where we find our truest selves in Christ. Rest is where we can listen to our heartbeat, where we can dream again, risk again, perhaps even love again. Rest has so much to teach us and tell us, if we will listen.
Allow rest to be the unapologetic rhythm that guides your movements and your schedules. Allow His rest to uncover the songs and the stories buried inside your heart that are longing to dance out loud.
So you can live a better story today.
Lisa Murray is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, author, speaker, coffee lover, and wife. Her online community lisamurrayonline.com provides a compassionate place embrace peace in the midst of the stresses and struggles of life. In her new book, Peace for a Lifetime, Lisa Murray shares the keys to cultivating a life that’s deeply rooted, overflowing, and abundant, the fruit of which is peace. While she grew up in the Florida sunshine, she and her husband now live just outside Nashville in Franklin, TN. Peace for a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com. Visit her on Facebook and Twitter.
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Originally published Monday, 12 November 2018.