Rest. I always thought I was good at it.
I’m in a season of life where I have a lot of unaccounted for time. I have a job that is contained to 40 hours a week most of the time, and I don’t have a spouse or kids. This gives me a lot of control over how my time is spent.
“Not a problem,” I say to myself. “I’m all over it.”
Then I put on my PJs, plop down on the couch, turn on another season of Gilmore Girls and pat myself on the back for being so good at resting.
But that’s not resting. That’s being lazy.
True rest is not just physical. It has to be mental and spiritual too.
Here’s the thing. While I’m watching Rory and Lorelei banter about early 2000’s pop culture, I’m also scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and maybe playing solitaire on my phone. Sometimes I’m being productive and making dinner or cleaning, but regardless, I can’t just watch TV anymore. I get bored and need to be doing something else at the same time.
This is something I taught to myself. Slowly, just watching TV wasn’t stimulating enough – I needed to do another activity at the same time.
So while my body may be resting, my brain is looking for more things to process. Watch TV, check Facebook, look up a recipe, move laundry along.
This isn’t rest. This is the opposite. This is lazy busyness. My body may be resting, but my brain is working on overdrive. Because the more I can focus on externally, the less I’m forced to focus on what’s going on inside my head and my heart.
I’m pretty sure watching Gilmore Girls while playing solitaire isn’t what Jesus was talking about when he told us to rest:
“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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
– Matthew 11:28-30
Right now my rest isn’t true rest. It’s not quiet. It’s busy, it’s distracting, it’s adding noise to my life. As this passage describes, rest should do the opposite. It should quiet us, ground us, and bring us back to God.
I’m in a significant season of life where I probably need quiet, grounded-ness and closeness to God more than I ever have before. I’ve experienced a series of intense heartbreaks and have been surprised by my reaction to them. I’m also considering “what’s next?” questions in an exciting and terrifying way.
So if I’m honest, real rest seems scary. Slowing my brain down to rest in God might mean some really painful feelings might rise to the surface. It might mean I feel led on a path that requires more courage than I think I can bear.
God tells us to rest. Really rest. No TV, no social media, no dinner or laundry or distraction. Because distraction is noisy. It gets in the way of a real conversation. And here I am banging on pots and pans, while wondering why I can’t hear what God is saying to me.
So I’m trying. I’m trying to find regular “distraction-free” days with no TV or social media. I’m trying to read more, journal more and be comfortable with the quiet. It’s not easy, and it takes discipline and practice. It takes being a little bit bored and being okay with it. It takes bringing my train of thought back on track when it runs off course. Sometimes over and over again.
I’m working on it.