A month or so ago I sat down and wrote out all the things I want to do in the next year. Then as I evaluated them for priority, I mapped out month by month what it would take to accomplish those things. Y’all…it was like some good stuff. And that map, you’d be impressed with my month mapping skills.
I had things timed out to what days discussions and meetings would happen to make them the most convenient for the other people who I’d need to work with. I knew how early in the month I’d need to send out emails. I knew what could wait until later in months when other activities were winding down. I had found hours in my day I didn’t know I had. I can write my next book sitting on the side of the football field. I can do my class homework on the side of the wrestling mat. Instead of the hour-ish of tv I watch before I pass out exhausted every night, I could fill that space with more consistent blogging. Lunches that in the past I’d only seen as opportunities to connect could be used to connect AND develop.
This plan is so good.
In the mushy week after VBS ended, I just wanted to sleep, but knew the VBS set had to come down and get stored. And just like I knew I could do all the things I had to do to get the set up, I knew I could do all the things I had to do to get it down. Thankfully, I have one really good friend in particular who cares enough about me to say, “Sarah, you just hold the bottom of this ladder. I’ll climb up.” I think we both realized as I struggled to stay awake through even ladder holding that balance was not going to be a strong thing in my life that week. If I went up that ladder, I would for sure fall all the way back down.
As it turns out, I have started to wonder if balance isn’t a bigger problem for me beyond ladder climbing.
I started Rebekah Lyon’s study on Rest, (you can find the free download at http://www.rebekahlyons.com/free) after seeing her Insta story directing me to it. I am on Day 5 today, and it has revolutionized my life.
On Day 2 she talks about how God designed rest into the rhythm of creation and then established rest as a pattern which was to be honored as a way of honoring God. She moves to Leviticus 26 and sees that God promises, if you rest, I will bless you. But then He warns, if you don’t follow this pattern of rest, there will be consequences and the consequences will be dire. The consequences are explicit about how terrible it will be if the Isrealites forsake rest, for themselves and the land.
How did it surprise me to hear in 1 Chronicles that the Isrealites had not rested the land? When they should have worked the land for 6 years and rested on the 7th, they continued working. They ended up being conquered and exiled from the land, and remained in exile for the same length of time that they skipped rest. The story pauses there to say that while they were in exile, the land enjoyed all the rest that was due to it.
Will you pause with me a second here to think what that meant? It wasn’t JUST the farmers who got exiled. It wasn’t just the farmers who were overtaken and killed and dragged off into brutal forced submission. It was daughters and baby boys. It was stone masons and shepherds. It was the elderly and the widowed. The refusal to respect rest didn’t just impact those who were specifically ignoring the command to rest. It impacted everyone in the land. I think of it like this, if the food grown in that land touched your lips, if you feed on the fruit of disobedience, even unknowingly, that fruit was poisoned. People who did not choose to disobey in that way suffered from the fruit of over-labor.
I thought about times that I had been unpleasant to be around over the past few weeks. I thought about the times I’d been so driven by tasks that I placed some sort of burden of responsibility to spoon-feed me through basic care things like, “Sarah, you need to stop and eat,” and there I stayed working like a unnecessary martyr. Was that fair to them?
But far worse than thinking through my interactions with those out in the world was my evaluation of my behavior in my house. Crabby mom, crabby wife, family trying hard to please someone who will not be pleased or who is too tired to help get the result she is demanding.
The day before I had started working from home at about 630, answering texts and setting things up online through databases. As I packed lunch and braided hair, my thoughts were on work. I spent time I should have given to helping them start their day well on answering texts. I chose to do that. Me. My choice. The day went on like that, my choices, my work, me doing doing doing. I talked-to-text all the way home, still in work conversations, and then barked orders at the kids to get ready for practice. There on the side of the field I emailed and texted and worked through my phone until after 7.
It feels yucky to write that. Yucky, because I fear some people will read that and think, she’s not doing right by her family. But also yucky because I fear that others will read that and think, well, that’s just how life has to go. I don’t want people to think that about me. And I don’t want people to think that about life.
As I have evaluated how I have handled this busy time of year, I keep coming back to that one year plan. Guys, that plan is so good. If I follow that plan, I will produce so many good things. If I follow that plan, people will be impressed with what I can produce.
But will my children care? But will I not care that my friends are spending time worrying about me? But will I forget that I am married to someone who would like to know me? But will the people I am depending on to make my plan advance according to my timeline ever want to work with me again?
I’ve said to myself and to others for decades, “You can’t draw out of an empty well.” I’ve also pointed out that wells don’t get filled by dumping buckets of water in from the top. It has to be real ground water, real connection to the source. Rest, refilling, it has to be genuine. It has to be real. If we want to be obedient, we have to stop and listen to what God is telling us.
Sunday afternoon I woke out of a hard nap, that kind of wake up where you’re not sure if you fell asleep in the right house or if a week has passed. I got my kids together and joined some of my dearest friends and went to the river.
The past two nights I have sat on the side of the field, watching my kids practice, talking to other moms about school and teams and their work and things we’ve heard about in the community. It was so nice.
There was a moment when I was reflecting on how these moments of disconnected rest were really restoring me, that I had woken up that third morning and felt finally like a person again, appreciating the world around me. A storm had crossed through the valley and there was a breeze left behind. I looked over to my left and there was a quick rainbow. I called out to a friend “Do you see it? A rainbow!” But she didn’t hear me. I looked back at it and in under a minute, it was gone. My friend came over to talk and I asked if she’d seen it, but she hadn’t seen my little secret rainbow, a little splash of color like a whisper from God, “My promises are sure.”
A few minutes later on the other side of the field another rainbow appeared. This time she saw it, this second rainbow that I got to share with someone else.
How is your rest? Like real rest, not Netflix rest. Are you taking the time to stop and connect with the people around you and the physical world around you? Or is your free time spent self medicating with hits of dopamine sparked by Facebook likes and Candy Crush wins.
I hate to tell you what my answer was a few week ago, but I am trying. I am looking at that year plan and I’ve heard the message. Work, but rest. Work, but rest. If you rest, I will bless it. If you don’t……you may see short term gain, but the cost will be devastating.
If you need rest like I have, I invite you to check out that Rebekah Lyon’s study. It is so good I’d say it’s better than my year long plan. If you need a place to rest, and someone to rest with, you’re welcome next to me at the football field, or maybe we can meet up at the river.
But today, will you ask yourself like I have been….how’s my rest….and what is the cost of all of my gain?