This starting of the school year has rocked my world, y'all. I'm not sure if it's that I now have a kindergartener in addition to a third grader or if it's really that my toddler is apparently hitting the terrible two's a bit early - but nevertheless, I am struggling to find a rhythm that feels good.
That allows for margin. That allows for grace. That allows for rest.
What does rest look like for you? Is it binge watching TV or is it working in the yard? Is it spending time alone or is it having a night out with girl friends? Is it a date night with your husband or is it reading a good book in a hot bath tub?
What brings your weary soul to life again?
I’m asking because I realized this summer that I’m not quite sure what rest looks like for me.
I’ve started the new book by the beautiful Shauna Niequist titled, Present Over Perfect. I LOVED her book, Bread & Wine, which had a chapter with that title. Present Over Perfect.
I’m barely into the book and there has already been a part that is marinating in the deepest part of my heart as I wrestle with things that bring chaos into my life vs. things that bring my life joy.
She writes, “This is what I call fake-resting. I’m wearing pajamas. The kids are watching cartoons, snuggling under blankets, eating waffles. Aaron’s reading or sleeping. It looks like I’m resting, too. But I’m not. I’m ticking down an endless list, sometimes written, always mental, getting things back into their right spots, changing the laundry, wiping down the countertops.”
I don’t know about you, but I fake-rest all. the. time.
I stay in my jam jams all day, scroll through instagram, let the t.v. go on and on, and say yes to endless snacks and caprisuns. I might be switching the laundry, unloading the dishwasher and taking out the trash - but that’s really just to cross something off my daily to-do list.
And at the end of days like that, I feel empty - usually less-rested than I did before the day even began.
Why is that, I wonder?
Maybe it has something to do with where my heart is during the times of 'rest'.
Maybe if my heart is turned toward laziness, in a vain attempt to escape the stress of everyday life, I won’t actually attain the rest and peace that I seek. Instead, I am filled with the same sense of exhaustion at the end of the day, compounded by the guilt of not ticking down my list of things to get done for the week.
I wonder if life would be different if instead of having days set apart to “take off”, I intentionally set down my to-do list and decided that these moments are fleeting and instead of escaping, so I will live them to their fullest. I wonder if my exhaustion would feel different if I was exhausted from days of laughter and adventures instead of task-mastering and tidying up and spic-and-spanning my house fast and furiously before Jeff arrives home. I wonder if my exhaustion would feel different if we sat around a table - even if it has to be 5:00 - and turned the noise off to eat a home-cooked meal and talked about the highs and lows of our day.
I bet it would. I bet my exhaustion wouldn’t feel as exhausted. I bet it would be the kind where you hit the pillow at night and go to sleep quick with a full heart and sound mind. Where instead of being anxious about the things on my to-do list for tomorrow, I am instead focused on the moments that God had before me and filled with beautiful memories of our everyday life.
There is a difference between escaping life with rest and living a life of rest. I want to live a life of rest.
The PTA activities, bible study lessons and lunches to be made will still be there, of course. They won’t magically finish themselves, but I think that if my heart is turned more toward eternity, the importance of those activities, lessons and lunches might change.
I was sharing with Jeff yesterday all of the meetings, work duties and household preparations I have to take care of this week and then finally said I feel endlessly stressed out. I know he gets exacerbated with this comment, because he actually said so. He told me he couldn’t remember the last time I wasn’t anxious on a Sunday night.
That did not feel good to hear. But unfortunately, I know it's true.
I don’t want to be anxious. I want to be still.
The Bible says to "Be still + know that I am God". Ps 46:10.
There are two parts here. Being still and knowing that He is God. Knowing that it isn't about us, but it's about Him. That He is in control - whether we are still or not. I imagine the stillness talked about here might be talking about the mind instead of the body. Stillness in the mind. Even when we are doing the mom thing. And the PTA thing. And the lunch thing. And the work thing.
That is my prayer for all of us this week. That we would find the stillness in our mind, even when our hands are busy. That we would find contentedness in today, plan for tomorrow but leave it there. That there would be a calm that settles down deep in our hearts so that we might rest even in this back to school season. Have a wonderful day, my friends. Thank you for reading my words - you will never know how special that is to me.