Repose is as needful to the mind as sleep to the body. Rest time is not wasted time. It is economic to gather fresh strength. It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less. -Charles Spurgeon
On one of the podcasts that I listen to, I recently heard a woman being interviewed say that she had been on a "productivity fast". I had never heard of anyone doing something like that. Fasting from certain foods, social media, or other things, sure, but not productivity. My mind was immediately overwhelmed and I missed the next few minutes of whatever they were talking about on the podcast. I was mostly consumed with two thoughts: a) I totally needed to take a productivity fast, but had too much to do to get ready for baby and b) how would all the stuff in my life get done if I wasn't doing it?
Slowing down is hard work. Saying 'no' to plans and outings feels opposite to my nature, probably because it is. I'm a people person, an extrovert, a doer and a seer, a talker, a walker, and a leader. I'm quick to give a whole-hearted 'yes' to most any type of plans, or to invite those we love or want to know better over to our home for a meal. These aren't bad things, but timing is everything and now is not the time for me to load down our calendar with lots of plans.
The more pregnant I become, the more obvious my need for rest is. The closer we get to McBaby's due date, the more focused we become on preparing ourselves and soaking up the last moments of just the two of us. It's just the beginning of a shift in our lifestyle as parents and it's brought some real issues to my attention.
First, as I began to say 'no' to things, I realized that what made saying 'no' to plans hardest on me was that I was worried people wouldn't like me anymore. My "people oriented' personality was being shown for what it really is: a "people pleasing" personality. Ugh. Then came the tough questions, like, "how many things have I been saying 'yes' to just in order to please those around me" and "how hard am I working to earn people's love". These are still thoughts that I'm fleshing out as I attempt to hand out more no's than yes'es. Being everywhere, seeing everyone, doing everything is only going to wear me down until I'm some exhausted, distorted version of myself that really will be hard for anyone, even myself, to want to be around.
Then I thought about idols. On a completely different podcast, I recently heard the host define an idol as "anything that we look to in hopes that it will fulfill something in us that only God can provide". I grew up in church and private Christian school so when I hear the word idol, my mind often goes to a golden calf being worshiped by the Hebrews, or the idols that Leah hid from Jacob in her tent, or the gods of Egypt that were made into impressive and intimidating statues. People looked to these false gods for protection, love, guidance, and answered prayers. These are things only I AM could give them, but they didn't understand His way of doing things, so they filled in the so called gaps on their own. My idols don't look like that, but they sure are serving the same purpose. My idols look like finding my worth in what I do or how much I can get accomplished in a day. A checklist completely marked off by bedtime can really boost my self-esteem. Our culture definitely presses busyness and task oriented lifestyles upon us, but we don't have to lay down and take it! We can say 'no' to things. We don't have to play the busy game with the world because our worth isn't found in these things, it's based off the simple fact that we are loved and chosen by God. Maybe, if I take the time to rest, to be still, I can begin to be know more about who He says that I am and how He defines me.
Having a newborn is going to force me to say 'no' to more things than ever. Caring for McBaby and learning a whole new family routine is going to take almost all of what I have to offer, so, like the new mom on the podcast, I'm not really going to have much of a choice when it comes to taking a productivity fast. Sure, I will be productive in changing diapers and nursing (hopefully), but those things can't quite be measured like my extensive to-do lists. They are also going to force me to make time to REST. I'm praying that God uses the slow days, the baby centered days, the entire shifting of our lifestyle to hollow out some space in me that's free to be filled by Him alone. Not by to-do lists, or social plans, or my need to achieve, just by being His.
In his book titled Prayer, Richard Foster reminds us that time to spend in prayer is never going to just happen, we have to create it. I think the same is true of rest. We all have about a million things going on at once, we all have schedules we have to adhere to, so if we are going to rest at all, we have to make the time to do so.
God calls this set aside time the Sabbath. You may assume it has to be a Sunday, but it doesn't. Sabbath is just a chunk of time you create in your week to rest. I don't think God is saying it's bad for us to work hard at things, in fact He instructs us to use our time diligently, but He knows our tendency to depend on our doing. When we get all wrapped up in doing and accomplishing, we can unknowingly take the reigns out of his hands, square our shoulders, and just get life done on our own. Leaving Him out of our lives in the saddest part of staying busy. This is why observing the Sabbath is so important. It's a reminder that even when we are resting, He is at work. He preserves and upholds us always. Resting or observing Sabbath may feel lazy or like we aren't doing what we should to keep our lives on track, but it's really a great opportunity to say to our God, "I trust You. I trust that Your plan for me is good. I trust that You're working things out for me. I am grateful for this truth and I am grateful it allows me to rest".
Where can you make the time for Sabbath in your week?