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Cultivating a Life of Rest - Three Steps

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

Despite all outward appearances and evidence to the contrary we cannot, in fact, run endlessly without rest.

Oh sure, we can go for long periods without stopping, it's how moms are built. But denying ourselves rest always comes at a price. Always.

You might think you are immune. Stronger, tougher. Except maybe you aren't? There is a cost. It is paid at a cellular level, at a deep emotional level. You know what your body will do? It will let you run a tab. It will extend you credit after credit. It will grant grace periods and extensions to be sure, and still eventually, the bill comes due.

And like every other 90 days-same-as-cash, no interest until 2046, offer - when the bill comes due - all that interest (which has been compounded) is owed, immediately. We have to rest or we pay the price. We have to say "No."

The first step in cultivating a life of rest is saying "No."

No, is hard and you don't want to do it. I understand. I don't want to either. We don't want to let anyone down. We somehow convince ourselves that if we so much as shrug while holding the weight of the world on our shoulders that the earth will spin off it's axis. It won't.

No. Is a complete sentence.

Every "Yes" is a "No" to something else.

Every "No" is a "Yes".

It's ours to choose.

This life is not a dress rehearsal. We can love and serve our families, we can do work we love, we can be involved in our community AND care for ourselves.

As women in general and especially as moms we sometimes fall into a hero complex. Believing we are the answer, the only one who can save the day. We can solve their problems, we can fix what is broken and that we alone must fill in all the gaps for those we love. We can't.

Sometimes in this mindset we are so hellbent in our desire to save and help that we neglect other important responsibilities to our spouses, family, friends, work. But at all times when we do this we neglect ourselves and what we need to do for our own health and wellbeing. We need rest.

We need to rest our weary spirits. We need to rest in the love and comfort of people who care about us. We rest in laughter, sunshine, cool breezes, fresh water, good food. We could rest in so many ways if we stopped the madness.

The second step is being intentional about rest.

Often we are hard-wired to sacrifice and do more, and then still more. There are many reasons we choose to run up a tab and let our body pay the price. Maybe we have a codependent nature or we don't think we will be loved if we don't do for others? Perhaps we don't trust anyone to do the right thing and we just need to control them? Or maybe we are in a never ending battle to prove we are good enough?

Whatever the reasons, we seem to choose everyone and everything but our own health and wellness. We have to be brave enough stop. We must. Our culture values being "busy". It's the pinnacle for some people, especially women.

Activity, round the clock. "Look at her go! She's Wonder Woman!"

It's counter-culture to opt out of this lifestyle and it is HARD. Especially when our own nature and pre-disposition is interwoven with this busy-bee culture, it's a perfect storm.

There is no real time for porch sitting, long phone calls, lazy lunches with the ones you love, or afternoon naps unless we make time. Weekend trips, leisurely weekends, just do it.

Every day, every week and throughout the year we must plan periods of rest. Hours during the day, days during the week, and weeks during the year. We plan for priorities and if it is to become habit, we must plan our time of rest.

We steal a moment here or there, a pit stop in our race and think we have built in "quality time". That's not rest.

When spontaneous opportunities to rest present themselves what do we do? Do we feel guilty? Do we replace what could be genuine rest with more activity or scrolling social media, watching tv?

Allowing our brain a quiet, media free space is step three.

Our body needs intentional times of rest throughout the day. But so do our brains.

Walks outside. Quiet. Time to think. A hot cup of tea, an icy lemonade in a comfortable chair. Hot baths, good books, feet up, phone off. We can't flood our brains with information without a rest from it. Lights from devices, the never ending controversies on social media create a nonstop circuit in our minds.

When we finally try to sleep our brains can't shut off. They don't know how. We lie in bed tossing and turning and if we're up long enough, we reach for the device again. Feeling rested and peaceful in your spirit requires resting the body, resting the brain and it begins with "no". Saying no to others. Saying no requests that aren't priorities or that drain our energy. And many times saying no to the tug of our own habits.

Whatever you may be experiencing you will manage it more effectively if you can approach it from a place of rest.

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