I have a problem with resting. For a while, I denied this fact. I looked at my life and thought, "But I do rest!" I take time to read books and watch movies. I love sleep. I spend time with friends. AND I still get all of my other things done. However, for a while now, I've been learning that these things that I consider to be rest are just lumped along with everything else on my to-do list. Instead of thinking, "I have an hour to sit down and read and enjoy a book," my mind has morphed that enjoyable activity into, "How many books can I read to feel like I've done something." That my friends, isn't rest.
I've taken things that are usually restful for me and turned them into things to get done. Why? So that I feel accomplished.
As you can probably tell, I like crossing things off of my to-do list, which is why getting the stomach bug this week, at first, seemed like a catastrophe. Why? Because it forced me to sit down (or rather, lay down) and rest. REALLY REST.
It's sad thinking about the thoughts that ran through my head as soon as I felt the bug coming on: But I can't get my stuff done! How am I going to finish this project? But I have to go to this meeting! They need me to be at this event! What am I going to do about support raising for Poland? This puts me a few days behind on this assignment! I won't even be able to read without getting nauseous. God is definitely trying to humble me.
As I slowly sank into the pit of despair that is the stomach bug, all I could really do was talk to God. Some of my monologues included:
Madi: God, WHYYYYYYYYYYYY?
God: Madi, you need a rest. I'm giving you one.
Madi: But I don't have time to rest!
Madi: I have things to get done!
God: Will they still be there after you get better?
God: Then they can wait. Take this time to rest.
It's funny how being sick shows you how helpless you really are. It really humbles you, and it shows you that you aren't infinite, you aren't self-sufficient. I needed to be reminded of that. I needed to be reminded that I can't do everything. I am finite. Sometimes I need to slow down, rest, and reset.
Midway through the day yesterday, as the bug was winding down, I learned this lesson. When I start getting anxious about work, when I stop taking the time to rest, when I feel like there are a million things on my to-do list, when I feel like there is so much work to get done, when my restful activities turn into things on my to-do list, I need to slow down, rest, and reset.
So what does this look like practically for me (and maybe for you)?
As soon as I see the signs of stress and anxiety affecting my life, I should stop what I'm doing and run to the Lord. I just need to stop and focus on what really matters and that's Jesus.
1. Remember Scripture
"Come to me 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." Matthew 11:28-29
2. Give Jesus My Burdens -- tell Him what's going on, what I'm worried about, what's making me anxious.
3. Rest in Jesus -- true rest comes from the Lord, for He is rest. He's the Prince of Peace! So, spend rest in Him by spending time praying, listening to worship music, or spending time in the Word, or evening just doing something that is restful but with rest in mind.
Take the time of rest, and use it to reset (essentially refocus) my mind on Jesus. When I was sick yesterday, I decided to read a devotional called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, and it said something that was really helpful in thinking through how to refocus on Jesus.
"I have planted peace in the garden of your heart, where I live; but there are weeds growing there too: pride, worry, selfishness, unbelief. I am the Gardener, and I am working to rid your heart of those weeds." Entry for 4/2
I definitely have those weeds in my heart. They make me anxious, they stress me out, and they make me think that I don't need rest. BUT the Gardener is working to rid my heart of them. He's working to bring me peace and rest.
Being sick was pretty awful, but it did force me to slow down, rest, and reset, which is something God knew that I really needed. So I guess the stomach bug wasn't so bad after all. I finally had the time to re-watch The Hobbit, sleep, and spend extended time reading.
P.S. The things that definitely needed to get done that I had been dreading ( a la editing a film project and mailing some letters) seemed so easy to finish in light of the fact that I felt free to take my sweet time doing them. How lovely!
Thanks for the rest, Lord!
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