Two years ago I wrote a post about self-care. It was primarily a list of activities that I find restful and refreshing. If you’re anything like me (type A, overachiever, wanting to do all the things) than even your restful list of fun activities can be stressful. The list grows, resources expand, and soon I’m not really taking care of myself, I’m back to doing more stuff. So where does self-care fit in? Where do we find true rest? Does rest even help us complete the ever growing list of tasks for self, kids, husband, friends, church, community? I think we need to go to the source. We need to stop “looking inward” and look outward. We need to look at what God has to say about rest and taking care of ourselves. When we lay down our lives and take up the cross of Christ in his purpose and meaning for our lives we find our true rest.
Sunday school for the boys (now 1st and pre-k) is vastly different this year than last. We are at home for church and the kids still need something normal. I’ve come up with lesson plans for almost 6 months now and the last three weeks have focused on Adam and Eve. Prior, we covered creation. Most resources on Pinterest and other bible sites look at 6 days of creation. What about the 7th? God clearly put in 7 days of creation! But he didn’t make anything, or did he? We are so quick to glance over day 7. God CREATED rest. Just like day and night, God create rest. That means rest has a purpose.
Therapy appointments and endless therapeutic playing at home can become tiring. Elsa will let me know very quickly when she has had enough. Her therapists all have quickly recognized when she is just done with the session. Her posture becomes more of a wet noodle. She is avoiding people, refusing to participate, and occasionally lets out a good “all done” to the therapist. She needs rest. She needs sleep, play on her own terms, discover on her own a new or old toy, and just be a kid.
I’m finding this in myself lately. As I now exercise from home and try to maintain a workout schedule I can push a bit too hard. My legs feel like lead, my heart rate spikes quickly, and I’m ready for a nap with the kids before noon. Hello! Time to cool the jets and take a break. But I want accomplishment. I want to be better. I want to run faster. I want to…fill in the blank. This is just the same for me with the cleanliness or anti-clutter of my house. It’s the same with signing the kids up for activities. It’s the same with church involvement.
I forget God told Martha to stop cleaning and start listening (Luke 10:38-42). I forget God himself took time to rest (Genesis 2:2-3). I forget God’s way is gentle and restful (Matt. 11:29). I forget Joshua did not fight but marched and waited for the Lord (Joshua 6). There are many more examples throughout the Bible depicting rest. Jesus teaches the pharisees a number of times what true Sabbathing looks like in the gospels.
Having a child with low tone who quite literally can’t handle the same speed of activity or endurance as her peers makes me slow down. It is making me remember to rest. She has her warning signs of fatigue. I think I have my warning signs of over activity but I choose to ignore them. God sanctified and blessed the seventh day of creation (Gen. 2:3). Shouldn’t we take that a bit more seriously? God told his people in the old and new testaments to sabbath and remember. Remember what? Remember God.
Our modern world is so full of distraction and entertainment to fill every minute of the day and night continuously. Our thoughts, emotions and bodies can be full of distractions which are really all self serving. Great job Satan, keep us self serving and distracted! Then we begin to forget. We forget our creator, our source of rest. We fill it with “self-care” that really is just more stuff centered around ourselves. How selfish! God tells us over and over again to stop and rest. This rest has purpose. It’s to remember our God and rely on his strength for our days. It takes our thoughts off of ourselves and onto the things of God. Our days of rest are meant to strengthen our souls.
I’m learning to slow down. Not just physical slowing, although that helps, but mentally and spiritually. The time to rest gives time to reflect on what God has done in my life and to enjoy what is right in front of me, my family. My mind can rest from anxiety and worry. It can focus on the here and now. And didn’t God tell us to not worry about tomorrow? (Matt.6:34) Didn’t he give manna in the wilderness for one day? (Exodus 16) God provides us with grace for our day, not for our week. This allows us to take that rest. It allows us to fully lean into forgetting the laundry, the mopping, the swim lesson, the therapy, and just rest in souls.
“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” Isaiah 40:29