The house was silent. It was 2:00 in the afternoon on a beautiful summer day; the two older children were playing well together upstairs in their room, the youngest asleep in his crib, and the 3 year old off with family. In that moment I needed to decide whether to be super productive or restful. I chose to rest – the laundry wasn’t going anywhere, right?
I laid down on our couch and started relaxing all the way down to my toes. When my body was physically at a resting point, my mind started racing and wouldn’t be turned off. “What about all that laundry you could be doing? You know the sink is OVERFLOWING with dishes from the day. What about dinner prep, get ahead of the schedule for once! There are toys on the floor, devotion to be read, bills to be paid…..” The relaxed toes from earlier? They are now coiled up in pressure of the sudden onset of the never ending “to do” list of running a household with young children.
I desperately tried to turn my mind off. I had earned the right to have a few minutes of quiet to myself, nothing was wrong about taking it. It worked! The list became a low murmur in my mind, but then a louder, uglier voice started to take root. “Are you really going to lay down in the middle of the day?” “What gives you the right to become lazy, while your husband is off working to provide diligently for his family?” The guilt of taking a few minutes for myself ruined any chance of rest.
I wish I could say I stood up and told the guilt to go away, leave us tired mamas alone. Instead it took away my chance to rest (which doesn’t happen often these days). As I was thinking about this blog and rest, the story above would not leave me alone. We live in a society where rest is frowned upon no matter the occupation. However, there are times I believe it goes deeper than rest – it’s the peace we so desperately miss. When peace is present, THEN we are able to rest in all ways; physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
Realistically, we live in a world where peace is taken for granted because of the unending pressures. The pressure of a living a perfect social media life. The pressure of raising your children to be the best. The pressure of the perfect body. The pressure of being politically correct. The pressure of maintaining the perfect home. On and on the list can go. Who can rest when you have to maintain it all??? It’s easy, no one.
It’s time for us to realize the rest we so desperately seek is more than a few uninterrupted moments on the couch. It’s more than binging on the newest show. The rest we so desperately seek is found in scripture.
“In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:8
“Come to me (Jesus), all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
These verses show the best way to have peace, resulting in rest, is through dependency on The Lord and His promises. He isn’t asking us to succumb to the pressures of the list from above. He asks us to come to Him when it’s too much and let Him carry the stress and worry from the situation.
After we come to Him and release our worries, He says lay down and sleep. REST! To accomplish what our dreams are, we have to be rested to press forward. There shouldn’t be any guilt in taking a rest when the opportunity presents itself. If I could rewind time, I would tell myself to enjoy the couch, to turn off the guilt and to rest, that way when my kids were ready for me, I’d be the best version of myself. When Trey walked into the door, I could be present for him, not exhausted from running myself ragged.
Life delivers all of us unending lists. So prioritize your list with rest so you can last the distance. Life is a marathon, not a sprint!
CHM Contributor Becca Parrott