Part guilt, part pride. That’s the odd tangled mess of emotions I feel about rest.
Yes, guilt. Napping is difficult for me; sometimes impossible. All those years of new motherhood when the wise older women are telling you, “Rest when the baby is resting….” and you understand their gray hairs mean wisdom, but your body just doesn’t DO that, doesn’t nap and feel better for it.
Mostly I toss and turn. I count to 100 and then back from 100 and then up to 100 again, fighting hard for sleep because I’m fatigued and maybe even tired, but I’m failing so often.
And even if I can kind of sleep, it’s not deep and restful. It’s semi-conscious and mostly I just lie there thinking of how I’m wasting that time in that bed. When I finally give up all frustrated and still tired, I’m a groggy mess.
Napping frustrates me rather than refreshes.
My husband teases me about never watching TV or movies. “You don’t watch; you just listen,” he says.
It’s true. I like to listen to the dialogue while cleaning up the kitchen, packing the lunches, folding the laundry, sweeping the kitchen floor, dusting the furniture, signing homework slips and agenda books. Or maybe I am done with my chores, so I busy my hands with knitting or sewing projects or the crossword puzzle.
But sitting totally still, just watching the television…that’s not rest; that stirs up restlessness in me.
I read the verses, how Scripture tells me to rest, and all this time I thought I just failed at this.
Could this be sin? Could I struggle with this so much that I’m a hopeless case of incessant busyness? A certifiable Martha who can’t possibly be Mary at the feet of Jesus?
Oh, the guilt.
But there’s the pride, too. This secret truth: how it feels good to confess to a “weakness” that’s really all about my strength.
I’m a doer. I like to be busy. I get things done. I don’t need rest like others do because I have this superhuman ability, this super-mom power to do and do and do. I have a strong work ethic and I’m not lazy or unproductive.
That’s never what I say; it’s never that blatantly boastful. But I know they pride is there. I live with that arrogant inner dialogue every day.
Oh, but this week there is freedom and I keep coming back to this again and again. Daily I return because I don’t want to wrestle this Guilt/Pride monster any longer.
In her book Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God, Margaret Feinberg writes:
“But rest isn’t a purely passive activity. Rest invites us to participate in restorative activities….Sometimes what’s most restful and restorative to you might involve activity…Sometimes what feels like rest to you may feel like work to someone else (and vice versa)…
Some people experience rest and rejuvenation through physical exercise, others prefer a creative outlet like painting, sculpting or finding a project on Pinterest. Still others experience rest through spending time at the rifle range, reading an entertaining book, working on a car, enjoying a comedy, or cooking a new recipe” (p. 72).
Rest doesn’t have to mean napping. It doesn’t have to mean Hallmark movie watching, a day on the sofa or a morning spent late in the bed.
It can. If that’s how God hand-crafted your heart and mind, then that’s how He asks you to rest.
But finally I see how all these years of feeling like I never rest just meant I rested through creating or growing.
….Baking the bread and the cookies and huddling around the kitchen table with three daughters and a new recipe.
….Pressing the trowel down deep in the dirt, pushing away the soil with fingers and sinking the herbs deep down, and then fingering the buds on the miniature roses, on the echinacea, counting the un-ripe strawberries and giving up because of the abundance.
….Walking a mile and breathing in the air, hearing for the first time that day the sound of the birds and smelling the mown grass and the roses in bloom.
….Finishing that book, filling in the crossword puzzle, reading the Bible un-rushed without a to-do list to beckon.
This is how my Shepherd leads me, knowing and loving this non-napping sheep as He does: “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3 NIV).
And yes, that’s doing, but it’s resting. It’s deep soul rest for me, the kind where I see beauty, and I create and know God as Creator, and I take time long enough to catch the slightest hint of His glory as He passes by.
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King