Resting Well Takes More Than Sleep

Do you ever get tired of resting? I do. When I try to rest all I can think of is everything else that needs to be done. But as someone who has a chronic illness, my body forces me to rest a lot. 

After years spent bed-bound and nonfunctional, I just wanted to go do something demanding that left me bone-weary from a good day of hard work. The last thing I want to do is rest.

You know?

Instead, I stared at the ceiling day after day resenting my need to rest.

Here’s the thing: Rest is good. You know that already. But like me, do you struggle to believe it? The thing I was forgetting was that as I laid there day after day, my body was fighting an unseen battle for my life. 

That time spent resting wasn’t wasted. It never is, no matter what state of health you are in. Rest is something our culture does not do well. Productivity is admirable, but so often we idolize it. 

God created us to rest. Resting counts as being productive. Even before sin came into the world, God created and modeled rest for us. (See Genesis 2:1-3)  When we try to go through life without true rest (or with a little of it as possible) we swim against the grain of the world, against the grain of how God designed us to live.

When we neglect rest, we throw away a beautiful God-given gift. Resting is an opportunity for us to draw near to God and to delight in spending time with Him. 

Maybe you’re not tired of resting. Maybe you crave it so much you can’t put it into words. Just one day off! Please? But life is too crazy, your schedule is too busy. The best rest you are getting is watching TV as you fall asleep exhausted way too late into the night, but somehow it never seems to help much.

Friend, the time when rest is hardest to find the time for is the time when you need it most. When our schedules are too busy for us to rest that’s when we most need to make it a priority if we want to lead a balanced, healthy life and avoid burnout. 

We always have time for our priorities. I don’t say that lightly. I say that having balanced some incredibly, insanely busy seasons of life trying to get through school, run a business, write a book, host and organize a conference, and manage life with three chronic illnesses. 

At the same time. 

I say this as someone who is horrible at prioritizing rest and whose friends and family constantly need to remind me to do so. Force me to do so, sometimes.

But I’m learning. I’m practicing. I’m getting better. Resting takes work and sacrifice. It’s not easy. But it’s crucial to serving God to the best of our ability. 

Here’s the thing, though. Resting is far more than just sleeping or watching a movie. We must be intentional to rest ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. What we do to rest one of those areas might directly contradict resting another.

For example, tonight I needed to rest mentally and emotionally so I asked some friends if they wanted to go for a walk. It didn’t rest me physically at all, but I needed those few hours of laughter and relaxation and nature after a long day.

When was the last time you truly rested? When was the last time you went on a walk to clear your head? When was the last time you spent time taking care of your soul and pouring your heart out to God? When was the last time you read an entire book in one sitting? When was the last time you took a nap?

Each of us will have areas where we struggle most to rest in. Which one(s) is it for you? What step do you need to take today to rest well? Think of something specific and a specific time you can do it. 

For me, that means heading to bed, because to be honest I’m writing this at eleven o’clock at night and I got maybe five hours of sleep last night. I’m still figuring this out with you. But true, good rest is worth the effort it takes to fight for it.

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