Rest is my “word” for 2022. In that vein, I try to give myself permission to rest when I’m tired emotionally, mentally, or physically. Because I often stay up late into the evening to make sure the kids, especially the high schoolers, finish what they need to do before the next day and get themselves to bed in a timely manner, I allow myself to take a nap some days to combat the tiredness that dogs me. I usually set the alarm on my phone for an hour, but in the silence, my head starts to spin about all the things I need to do. Then, I chide myself that I should stop thinking and start resting. I’ll look at the clock and realize that I only have 45 minutes left. I become worried about my inability to settle down and get the rest I need. I realized the other day that I had now risen to a new level of anxiety – putting pressure on myself to rest as quickly as possible! Pretty much the opposite of rest.
On a girls’ trip last year, my friends and I were shopping at a boutique/gas station when I saw a dish towel that was meant for me. I had to buy it because it said, “Come on, Inner Peace. I don’t have all day.” I recognize my need for rest, calm, and peace, but I’m not always patient. I want it, and I want it now. But I’m finding that my attempts to hurry peace and rest don’t necessarily work. And I don’t like that. I figured that once I dedicated my year to rest, it would be easier to obtain, but I should’ve known better. I’ve always watched women in my family struggle to just sit down and be still. They’re usually in motion – cooking, ironing, doing laundry, washing dishes, or some sort of chore. (I’m looking at you Nina and Susie).
In a familiar passage, Jesus told the crowds that if they were weary and burdened, they should come to him to find rest. In The Message translation of this story, Jesus says, “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” (Matt. 11:28-30). True restoration may not come naturally or quickly. According to Jesus, finding rest and peace sounds like a process, not an instant fix. Jesus can teach this learned behavior with its rhythms to us when we spend time with him in prayer, study, and worship.
My friend M-J takes a deep, cleansing breath before she or another prays out loud. When I’m around her, I find myself becoming more grounded and focused as we enter prayer time because of her practice. Learning how to be more mindful and centering myself on God as I search for rest and inner peace is exactly the type of behavior Jesus wants to teach us through his words to us and through other people like M-J who’ve already learned a thing or two.
We can’t rush into a state of rest when our minds are frantic, and our bodies are busy. But we can learn and practice Jesus’ “unforced rhythms of grace” so that we more naturally attain rest and peace and more easily connect with God and ourselves.