When is the last time you took a real rest?
I asked that question recently to a group of friends. It sounded like a fairly simple question. And yet, trying to answer it was harder than I had imagined.
First of all, what does that mean? Is it the last time I slept really well? Or the last time I took a nap? Is it the last time I did something I truly enjoyed? What does it even mean to “rest.”
I’ve been thinking about rest a lot the past few weeks now that I have the freedom of not going to work everyday.
I’ve always thought about rest as an absence of activity. Sleep has been synonymous with rest in my mind. And, I have to admit, I’m a little obsessed with sleep. The first thing I do every morning is check my sleep stats on my Fitbit. It tells me not only how long I slept, but gives me a report on the quality of my sleep.
I’ve done numerous Internet searches on how I can improve my sleep. How can I get more “deep sleep”? And you know what? No matter how hard I try or what I do differently, my sleep is almost the same every single night… about 7.5 hours. I am elated if I get more than an hour of deep sleep. (I’m below average in both areas.)
In the past week, I’ve discovered that “rest” goes way beyond sleep, though.
A friend recommended that I read a book called, Sacred Rest. I downloaded it on audio on Saturday, and I’ve been listening to it nonstop ever since. (Are you ALLOWED to speed read a book on rest?) It’s like I’m desperate to understand this concept as quickly as possible so I can start slowing down.
I’m learning that rest isn’t just the absence of activity. Rest is actually being intentional about DOING things to recharge and recover your life. The author explains the need for rest in seven key areas of your life: physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, sensory, social and creative. She gives ideas for how to rest in each area and bring a feeling of restoration. You can even sign up to receive a daily e-mail with a focus for each day.
When I stepped back and stopped working this summer, I realized just how depleted I’ve become in MOST of these areas. I know it’s a rare luxury that I get this opportunity to not work, and I do need to figure out how to either start working from home or find a new job. However, I’m giving myself some time to recharge before I do that.
I mentioned a few blog posts ago the verse God impressed upon my heart for this summer:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me, and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
There are so many amazing phrases in this verse that feel like such a mystery to me. One that has been the focus of my attention is the part about: “Get away with me, and you’ll recover your life.”
That sounds like something I want and really need. But how does that work exactly?
The past two weeks as I’ve been focusing on choosing opportunities to rest, I feel like I’m starting to understand it. “Get away with me” doesn’t mean I just have to sit and pray all day long or engage in some activity that sounds super spiritual.
The past few weeks, I’ve been choosing things like long walks without anything in my ears.
I’ve been inviting friends to come over and paint with me, while we sit on my deck having meaningful conversation and listening to the birds.
This morning, I woke up around 4:30 a.m. and I couldn’t go back to sleep. I knew the sun would come up around 5:15, so I decided to just head out and take some photos. I got to experience a deer in a foggy field and a horse eating breakfast. I watched the sun come up and the moon set.
So, I guess sometimes “rest” for me means just the opposite of sleep.
And each day, as I make more choices to choose to sit and listen, stop and chat, go out and be quiet or fill up on beauty, I’m also starting to get a glimpse of what it might mean to recover my life.
What about you? When is the last time you took a real rest? What do you think it means to recover your life?
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