Enemies of Rest (and saying no to them)

Unrest

I’ve been realizing lately that I rarely feel rested. A million thoughts are usually running through my head, and even in my off hours, I’m occupied by problems that need solving and tasks that have yet to be completed. I’m constantly recovering from the last experience in order to charge into the next one.

My conclusion: Modern society is terrible at resting! (It couldn’t just be me…)

Rest is not something we value nearly as much as we should. Yet how does God describe the Promised Land (i.e. our goal destination) in the Bible? REST. Shalom peace. Holistic well-being.

Wow, doesn’t that sound nice?

My idea of paradise

I want more of that, and I want more of that for you, too. Which is why I’m writing to share the insights I’ve gained thus far. Here are 4 specific enemies to rest I’ve identified:

Enemy #1: The Bombardment of the Internet Age.

How many of the tasks, thoughts, and voices that take up space in your day are important? Urgent? Vital? Are you letting busyness take you hostage?

Poor priorities will kill you if you let them.

Sometimes I don’t slow down until I get sick and am forced to. I’m just spit-balling here, but I don’t think that’s a healthy way to live. Yet so many of us do live that way. Just because society portrays it as normal, doesn’t mean it’s good.

Learn to go against the flow and take it easy. Make space for quietness, reflection, and hobbies that don’t involve social media. (Try hiding your phone for a few hours. Gasp.) Spend quality time with a person you love (while hiding your phone).

Enemy #2: Us. We don’t care about ourselves nearly enough.

That might sound strange. Of course we care about ourselves. Aren’t we naturally vain, selfish creatures who can’t help but be self-centered? Shouldn’t we be beating ourselves down, not turning more attention inward?

Sometimes, maybe. But looking around, I’d argue that most of us need to love ourselves more, not less. Many of us aren’t particularly good at self-care. We stay up late hours, feed our bodies junk, and compromise what we know would be best for us all the time. We don’t make enough time for the things we truly love to do. Or the things we truly need.

If you aren’t loving yourself well, you can’t love anyone else well either––at least not for long. A sustainable lifestyle requires taking care of yourself. We really don’t take this reality to heart often enough. Sure, you need to get this and that done. Of course, you should reach out to this and that person. But you really, really should get to bed on time even more. And eat some nutritious food to boot.

Start prioritizing your well-being more. Start taking your own needs into account. You deserve it, and everyone else will benefit, too.

Enemy #3: Small drama that gets blown out of proportion.

Depending on your personality type, this one may not apply to you. But I definitely fall prey to it all the time.

Sometimes, I can be cool as a cucumber in the face of crisis. But usually not when it’s my own personal crisis. Conflicts with friends, forgotten/lost items, miscommunications, a super slow bus driver, and oh so many more things can become instant volcanoes of stress when, the truth is, they don’t need to be.

In reality, they are little pebbles in the road that I could drive right over. Don’t let those pebbles derail you. Take a step back and recognize their smallness. Take a step away and refocus on what is unchanging and steady––God, your status as loved, the persistent beauty of the world around you. Practice appreciating the waiting, the interruptions, and the detours. They can become surprisingly great parts of your day.

Enemy #4: That voice in your head that says you’re not doing enough.

You could give this voice many labels. Perfectionism. Ambition. The world. Your intense parent. Whatever. The label isn’t important. What matters is, the message isn’t true.

You’re not doing enough? For what? To make something of yourself?

You already are something.

Perhaps the voice has a more noble spin. It tells you you aren’t doing enough to help others, to fix the problems in society, to shine your light in this world.

Well, guess what? A light doesn’t have to try really hard to be bright. It just is. And you are, too. Stop believing that lying voice, and simply be yourself. The version of yourself that is well-rested, kind (to yourself and others), and connected to God. That’s what the world needs.

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Elizabeth holds to simple faith in a complex world. She values the beauty of the everyday and strives for vulnerability with other imperfect humans. She is currently pursuing her MDiv at Fuller Theological Seminary, so when she isn't busy writing academic papers, she is usually out enjoying the LA sunshine. She is constantly learning, laughing, and finding herself in awe of grace.

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