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Rest Before Necessity

"Yahweh is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough. He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace near the quiet brook of bliss. That’s where he restores and revives my life. He opens before me the right path and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness so that I can bring honor to his name.”

-Psalm 23:1-3

How many times have you found yourself in seasons of pure exhaustion? This may be after a wilderness season, while walking through a time of transition, in various roles of ministry, in the throes of child-rearing and ministry of home. Exhaustion has a way of catching up with us. One moment we are raving in our ability to “do it all”, spin all the plates, keep a dignified composure and get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour, when suddenly, we can’t do it any longer. We find ourselves withdrawing from family and friends, ignoring text messages, snapping at our family, struggling to roll out of bed, or battling illness due to lack of adequate deep rest and nourishment. It’s usually the moment a mama realizes that she is not an impenetrable superhero and her body does indeed have limits.

I’m a mover and a shaker. I don’t rest well. In all honesty, I get uneasy and anxious when I’m sitting still. I’d rather be vacuuming, cleaning out the SUV, organizing the refrigerator, anything but sitting still. All in all, this isn’t a bad thing, until the margins in my life become seasonably thin, or I am in a period of transition, like welcoming a new baby into the home, or moving. In general, I don’t recognize the symptoms of exhaustion until its too late, and more often than not, I’ll continue to push through, dragging the bucket of rocks up the sheer side of a cliff until I drop it and it hurts a member of my family.

Being forced into a time of rest and refreshment can be incredibly painful, and I have to believe the Lord did not intend for it to be this way. I’m fairly certain it was why He included a day of rest in His seven day plan of creating the Universe. It’s not that He needed it, it’s that He was doing diligence to lead by example, teaching His children that rest is just as paramount as creating the cosmos and all it’s inhabitants.

After the birth of my sixth child, I was particularly restless. I did a wonderful job “planning for rest” by storing up two months worth of meals in my deep freezer, but I was overwhelmed by the magnanimity of integrating a sixth children into a very full and busy schedule during one of our craziest seasons and I simply couldn’t “make” myself rest. Two days after Avonlea was born, I was caught dragging a Dyson around the living room, vacuuming under the couch cushions. Every few minutes I would bend over in sharp pain, and do my best to hide my discomfort. It drove my family nuts. I never did take the rest I had planned for.

About a week later, I noticed a large knot in my abdomen about the size of a tennis ball. Long story short, I had burst an artery, weakened by labor, and by the sheer grace of God, it sealed itself into a pocket with a thick rind versus bleeding out. It required sedative surgery to remove the clot and seal the artery off. This FORCED me into a season of rest. It was compounded by the fact that my husband could not take time off work and my daughters were now back in full sessions at ballet and horse academy. What could have been a beautiful time of soaking up the moments of newness in bed with my sweet baby were now a necessary act to give my body time to heal.

This experience imprinted in my mind the necessity of rest before demand. Rest should be a nourishment we give our bodies on a regular basis, like drinking water and eating nutrient dense foods. It was included in the seven day plan and we should do our best to include it as often as we can before it is forced on us in moments of crises. I now plan for rest by taking a day off school, giving the kiddos an activity and pulling away to write, bask in the sun, put my hands in the soil, or cook my favorite treat, bruschetta.

How do you respond to seasons of overwhelm? Do you plan for rest or does rest force itself on you? How can you do better to nourish your soul and your body with rest?

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