What Does It Really Mean to Rest?

Are you tired? Exhausted from running yourself ragged? Do you feel like the mom chores never end and you will never catch up?

Yes and yes and yes. Can I get an amen?

How do you find rest?

Although naps are great, I’m talking about soul-deep rest. How do we find it?

I’ve been stuck in a season of constant moving. With one child in a health crisis and another one with special needs, I sometimes feel like I’m stuck on my treadmill and can’t get the thing to turn off. I am on the verge of tears all the time and sometimes I fantasize about curling up in a ball under my bed just to get a break. But who am I kidding? There’s a ton of dog hair under there that needs to be vacuumed.


What does it really mean to rest?


The other day I fell on my face in my closet, which used to be my little prayer corner until my younger child discovered it and made it her nest. I shoved aside her blankets, toys, and even her rubber snake and fell on my face before God. My older girl was in bad shape AGAIN. I cried out to God that I was so tired. I didn’t know how to help her. Everything we’d tried didn’t seem to help. I just felt so helpless, frustrated, and MAD.

As my tears lessened, the carpet came into focus. Threads and mess covered the floor, left over from the night before when my younger one with autism had shredded fabric. I checked my shirt and yep—she’d ripped the tags out of my shirt so I had yet another piece of clothing to place on my growing sewing pile. I’d walked around all day with a big hole in my side.

More tears flowed, and my brain spun into overdrive. That child is in her teens and still mostly nonverbal. She’s growing up so fast, and what did I need to do for her future and and and…?

A few minutes later, I found myself feverishly vacuuming the closet and bathroom. Yes, it needed to happen, but I knew I was avoiding dealing with what was really going on deep inside.

I needed rest. Soul-deep rest. But I didn’t want to find it. Why? Because of what it meant I needed to do.

When you think of rest, what comes to mind?

How do you define it? Before truly thinking it through, I might have said PJ’s and Netflix. A walk on the beach. Long naps in the afternoon.

I’m not saying those things are bad, but I think soul-deep rest goes beyond that. In her book Nothing to Prove, author Jennie Allen says, “Often the truth of God, the immensity of His resources and strength, never occurs to us.”

Why is that? Why doesn’t the immensity of God’s strength and resources occur to me?

Honestly? I think in part because I’m so busy trying to prove that I am enough. That I have what it takes. That I can do it myself. Like a stubborn toddler trying to put together her own puzzle, I’m determined that if I just work hard enough I can put all the pieces in the right place and make my life look “just right.”

But, as Jennie Allen says, the truth is … I AM NOT ENOUGH. We are not enough.

Is that hard to read? Is it hard to admit that you are not enough? In one sense those words wound me, but on the other hand, they set me free.

Yes, Lord Jesus, I am NOT ENOUGH.

Yes. I keep falling short of my own expectations and I keep failing.

And you know what? That’s ok.

Obviously, we all have things that have to be done. Most bosses don’t care if we spent four hours in traffic for one kid’s doctor appointment only to turn around and spend three more hours taking the other child to therapy. Work has to be done. Food has to be prepared and served to our families. Kids need care. Spouses need care.

And YOU need care. Part of that care is learning what must be done versus what you might have to let go in light of self-care. Only you can decide this in your individual situation. And you, like me, need to learn where to go for soul-deep rest.

My aim is not to put more requirements on you. My aim is to tell you that it’s OK that you can’t do it all and that you sometimes have to slow down and rest.

Over this last year especially, I have learned that part of resting is trusting. I get so wrapped up in fear over my older daughter’s numerous health issues and my fears for my autistic daughter’s future that I get trapped in a spin cycle of worry. I spend my energy fearing rather than trusting.

Fear is the opposite of trusting and trust is a part of finding rest.

Do I trust what God says about me? That I am fearfully and wonderfully made? That I am his? That He is mine? Do I trust that God is the creator of the ENTIRE UNIVERSE? Surely a God that huge can take care of my tiny corner of the world.

So why do I have such a hard time trusting?

I think it comes down to the fact that I like to live under the illusion of control.

Somehow, I think that if I keep controlling all my “stuff” that I will find peace. But Jesus says the opposite. He tells us that when we lose our lives for His sake that we will then find life. A lot of what Jesus says can be difficult to understand. But I think what He is saying is we will face difficulty following him, but at the same time we can trust him to take care of us. We can trust Jesus to give us peace. And we can trust Jesus to give those around us peace too.

When things get hard, I often hunker down and try to control more. As a young woman, this manifested in an eating disorder and excessive cleaning. As a middle-aged (ack, when did that happen?) woman, it manifests in me worrying over details and trying to control all the comings and goings of those around me, along with trying to prove that I can keep things looking neat and orderly. In truth, I’m not fooling anyone, not even myself. But I keep trying. I keep trying to take control and prove I am enough.

It might sound easy in theory to let go and trust, but for most of us this requires almost a prying open of the hands to accomplish it.

I have to keep going back to who God is and who I am.

He is the potter (the artist). I am the clay.

He is the Creator. I am the created.

He is God. I am the child.

The more I contemplate this, the more I realize that He is the one in whom I need to put my trust. Not in me. But in Him.

If He is the star-breathing God of everything in all creation, then I can and should put my trust in Him.

My to-do’s and didn’t-do’s start to fade in importance.

My self-imposed requirements begin to wash away like chalk on a rainy sidewalk.

The importance of so many tasks gets rearranged into something that can take a backseat to the One who designed me. And, like our money reminds us here in the United States, it should be in God whom we trust.

How about you? How do you find soul-deep rest?

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