Rediscovering rest has been an enormous theme in my life as of late. Is it just me or do others seek that rest we felt as children? Even in the midst of tragedy, children are oddly able to carry more than adults, or so it seems. I’m positive there are big things in my life now I could have handled better as a child. Maybe it’s a sort of naïveté when you’re a child, or a lack of experience, maybe not having to take care of yourself?
I’m not sure what the reason is, but it has caused me to pursue that place of rest as an adult. What does that look like? I’m sure each person has a different experience with different lessons, but here are a couple of my own.
Ironically, I’m writing this while on my first cruise. Talk about forced rest. I love it. I love being contained to one space and one itinerary so I don’t have to plan anything, and I can’t be tempted to over-commit to random activities. Also, I don’t have regular access to my phone or Wi-Fi so that may contribute to the forced rest, which is great. It allows me to focus on the people right in front of me. What this reminds me of is the need for us to force rest on ourselves in order for it to be fruitful.
The idea of forcing rest still seems odd to me but that seems to be the only way to truly make it take root. Growing up, I assumed rest would simply come when I was too tired or bored. So I would press on ahead and would wait for things to slow down naturally. Almost like a car that runs out of gas, it would be a clear sign to me that I’d need to stop and rest. But as life goes on, I can’t tell when the gas runs out; I just push myself up that hill assuming this is all normal, everything is fine!
Remove the Bad, Keep the Good
The first thing in addressing any problem is to remove your source of pain; makes sense. It took me a while to get there (boundaries), but when I did, that helped, initially. I tried to commit to healthier lifestyles, healthier communities and relationships, healthier commitments in general. This was a great first step toward rest; however, I continued to find myself too stretched. I took in so many good things, but like a sponge I was painfully wrung out every so often. Even with good things, there are limits.
Over the years, I’ve had to create and stick to a budget. In order to spend less than you earn, you should know where your dollars are going each month, and for what purpose they’re being used. Even when you have excess funds, the best way to save and invest is to be aware of where your funds are going and what has been the most profitable.
After falling into that routine, I wondered if something similar needed to happen with my time. Do I need to look at where it is applied and budget some time off to rest? This principle seemed accurate, but I did not know how to make it work with various commitments, and it was honestly hard to stick to any formula.
I assume you are familiar with the sabbath? It’s a concept originally from Judaism. Out of the ten commandments, it’s the fourth (depending on your tradition). It sets aside the seventh day as a day of rest, based on the Genesis creation story. After six days of creating the world and universe, God Himself rested for a full day. Then, after the Israelites came out of Egypt, God included it as a commandment that the Israelites must follow, right alongside not murdering, or committing adultery.
How Does This Apply to Me?
As a part of Evangelical culture, Jewish traditions have a huge impact, hence the term “Judeo-Christian” values. There is a lot of history and discussions to be had over these topics. I realize I’m rushing through important beliefs, but I have limited space.
The point is, that as a Christian, the topic of sabbath is not a foreign one. However, it is conveniently overlooked as something Christians don’t need to strictly abide by, even when it’s found in an important context like the ten commandments.
Theological discussions aside, this whole post leads to a lesson I learned from a podcast called The Bible Project. They did a series on the meaning of sabbath. (I’ll happily make a plug for it since it has been so profound).
My favorite takeaway so far is the fact that the sabbath is supposed to be an inconvenience. It falls every week, sundown on Friday, to sundown on Saturday. If strictly adhered to, you are not to do any work, any labor, and in some cases, not even drive or leave your house. You are to stay home, with your family, and rest. This inconvenience is a sort of forced rest.
And there it was, the same principle of forced rest, and its correlating benefits, in this topic of sabbath. I think I have been viewing rest all wrong. I thought it would naturally come when it was needed (e.g., when I ran out of gas). Like a child, I didn’t need or want rules or guidelines, I could just feel it out. Well, in the words of one of my mentors, “how has that worked out for you so far?” Not good, Brenda, not good.
Instead, it looks like rest is something to ramp up for. If you find yourself in the Jewish orthodox section of Jerusalem during the sabbath, it’s probably busiest on Friday before the sun goes down. Everyone is hurriedly preparing for the required rest. Wherever you land on your theological leanings, I’m finding truth in this principle. Rest is something to prepare for, and almost fight for.
I’m currently attempting a literal sabbath where I make no commitments, and I can spend time at home with family or friends. I’m not committing to a forever rule but want to see how it plays out, and I want to see how the principle of an “inconvenient” rest applies elsewhere in my life. I need to force it in, fight for it, and honor it.
I would love to hear your thoughts and how you have found rest in your life.
James Abyad is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. He lives in Alexandria, VA, and loves people, food, music, geography, languages, and Tolkien. His full-time job is just another basic federal employee, specifically a contracting officer, while fully enjoying the Washington, D.C., region. After studying International Relations and Arabic at American University, he aspired to work in diplomacy or a related non-profit; yet, like most millennials, he is trying to pay his student loans off first. So, in the meantime, you can find him investing time in family, friends, community, church, spin, and eating. You can read his posts here.