When Rest isn’t Enough

Ironically enough I’m writing this post immediately after returning from an overnight family vacation; however the eye-opener happened a few weeks prior to this trip…in the middle of busyness, mood swings, and what seemed to be a whole lot of inner turmoil and mess in what was really just regular, everyday mama life.

Parent, or not, I’m sure we’ve all been there – that place when life is moving at too fast a pace for you to keep up.  For me, I often don’t realize it until it’s too late and I’ve been on a week-long streak of being miserable and short with my amazing family who have taken the brunt of it and inside I’m in a volatile, volcanic state…ready to erupt at any given moment.  Yeah, sadly you’d think I’d be more in touch with myself by now, but what can I say; I’m still learning and figuring out this business of being a grown-up.

So anyways, being in this state of mind a few weeks back on one particular evening, after reading a new devotional that I had begun on my Bible app entitled How’s Your Soul? (based on the book of the same title by Judah Smith…which I think I may need to read at some point in the near future…again…not getting commission here but dang it…I should be! ha hah!)…I was faced with a few questions on the topic of “rest” to reflect on.  The first question was seemingly quite easy, asking what I do to unwind and rest and how often I do that particular thing.  My answer came almost immediately as I pictured myself relaxing on the couch with my favorite pillow/blanket/tea combo, watching Netflix to nothing but the sound of sweet sleep coming from the children’s bedrooms (after the final bathroom break, water run, injury-of-the-day report, and umpteen trips out of the room for whatever else they could think of had wrapped up).  But before you could say “Nailed it”, and as I tried to move onto the next question, I had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t quite through with that one.  It was then that the real eye opener came when I heard God whisper in my heart…

“but do you feel refreshed?”

Whoa!  Now there was a new thought that had never occurred to me before.  Here I was thinking that I was getting rest on a regular basis once the kids went to sleep, but in reality…I was only getting to step one…unwinding…but never truly entering into the rest that brought refreshment.

So of course, the question begged to be asked…”what do you do to be refreshed?”.  Friends, I can honestly tell you that after searching long and hard for an answer, I came up empty.  It shocked me to realize that the refreshment I was in so desperate need of on a daily basis, was an elusive thing that came and went with the changing of the wind.  It became clear to me all too soon the source of my anger, frustration, weariness and irritability.  I was neglecting my soul – and my body, mind, and emotions were all suffering for it (not to mention my poor family!)

So what was the answer…where was I to go from here?  Take up another activity?  Exercise more?  Eat healthier?  Sleep more?  While those things are definitely all good and necessary in the maintenance of the soul, it was something else entirely that I found to be the solution.  Again as my thoughts began to run amuck searching for the answer, I heard something very different in the midst of all of the chaotic thoughts…a thought that wasn’t my own….”you could get up a bit earlier to spend time with Me“…It was the whisper of God’s heart again.  Inside I could feel of all the excuses forming…”but I’ve tried that and I just waste that time on my phone with a million notices from the night before”…silence on the other end….so I followed up with…”but I nee-e-e-e-e-d my sleep…I give out all day to little one’s and I’m exhausted when my head hits that pillow…I can’t sacrifice any of that time”….this time an answer…again, “but do you wake up feeling refreshed?“. Gah!  Again, I was without a sufficient response…speechless.  As I sat dumbfounded in the silence, the voice continued,

Just a few moments of  time spent with me would refresh your soul more than those 10 minutes of sleep that you think you need.”

I was shocked.  I had no response, no rebuttal, no witty comeback…nothing.  This was it…my answer…my moment of “aha!”…my solution to all that had been weighing me down.  So I decided that I’d try it out…my prayer was simple…”God give me grace!”…and His response just as simple…”it’s for your benefit…refreshment“….that right there was my grace…my ace in the back pocket for when I didn’t want to drag my weary butt out of bed.

The lasting result of rest is refreshment; anything less is artificial & temporal Click To Tweet

It’s been a few weeks since I started this new routine of finding refreshment in the mornings…sometimes it looks like reading a chapter of scripture from the bible, sometimes a devotion with a short bible verse, and sometimes just listening to worship music where the deepest parts of my heart can reach out to my Savior..sometimes it’s just sitting silent and listening for Him to whisper words of encouragement to my tired soul…but always, it’s refreshing, (and always it involves coffee).

For you, refreshment may look different. While I believe that it’s important for believers to read the bible, and pray…when it becomes just another “have to” thing in our life…we’ve reduced it to nothing more than religion…which is man’s attempt to reach God through outward performance and ritual…and friend’s…there is absolutely nothing in that, that will bring refreshment to the soul (rather it will weary you in doing all the “right” things to attempt to reach God…and in vain…we can never “do enough” to reach Him…our reaching Him is only through receiving the gift of His Son Jesus who gave Himself in order to reach us)  I’m also not saying that it’s wrong to do things like watch TV to unwind…but let’s make sure that in our unwinding…we also mix in some refreshing.  My strategy for refreshment might not be the same as yours, and hey…it might not look the same for me in every season of my life either…there’s been other times where it’s came through creating, writing, journaling, quiet walks in the woods, or reflecting by the water (that pun wasn’t lost on me…but if you know me at all you know that there’s just something about the water that inspires me like none other)…but always…the deepest refreshment has come when I’ve invited Jesus into those times to just do life with me.   Really, that’s all that He’s after..just connection with you…in the things that you love…do that…and trust me…you’ll be refreshed.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ~ Matthew 11:28 (The Message Bible)

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