I stared at the words I’d read and reread for the last few hours, but my brain refused to comprehend what it needed to do. Forcing myself to sit at my desk hadn’t helped move the work along, but my stubbornness kept me seated. I watched the cursor blink in the same spot, telling me I was wasting my time, but how was I supposed to tap into my creative side or generate work when I felt completely poured out, empty?
Through the window, I heard the kids call for me to watch them do cartwheels on the front lawn for the tenth time in the last half hour. I wanted to relish the last days of summer with them, but I was being pulled by the stern demands of deadlines. I shouted, “I’ll be there in a second!” But that second stretched into long minutes that still kept me in my seat.
I clicked through the many other tabs open on my computer to find something that would require minimal thinking, but every task and project were at the point where they needed my focused attention. I closed my eyes, closed the laptop, took some deep breaths, and surrendered.
I leaned back in my chair, resigned and frustrated at my inability to push through, but in that quiet moment by myself, I sensed a different pull in my heart — an urgent invitation to rest. It didn’t demand from me as the deadlines did, but it did warn me that if I didn’t take a break, I would break eventually.
I reflected back on the last year and half and noticed how much I had needed to care for everyone around me. Rest had seemed like a luxury I couldn’t afford to have for myself, and I’d started to believe that the mark of a generous, loving person was to give until I had nothing left. It was the unhealthy belief that I had grown up with — that being like Jesus meant martyring ourselves at the altar of service to others, that our holiness wasn’t founded on Christ’s righteousness but on the scars we bore, on how far our arms had been stretched out for the sake of others.
But we are not robots created for incessant work, nor are we the saviors of the world. Rest is essential.
Rest is resistance to a do-it-all culture that tells us to prove our worth. When our value is measured by what we can offer, our humanity is hollowed up and thrown away. It’s no wonder we can so self-righteously determine a person’s destiny by their usefulness, instead of seeing them as beloved, cherished human beings just as they are — just as we are.
So we must rest to resist. We must rest so we can keep going. We must rest because we have limits and because we can trust God with all that needs to get done.
Adrenalin had concealed the full weight of what I had been carrying, and as I sat exhausted at my desk, I could feel it all. My body and mind and soul were weary. I was spent. I had come to the end of my strength to carry on.
The lie that I was only as valuable as what I produced enticed me to open my laptop again and keep pushing through, but I decided to heed the warning to rest. I walked away from my desk, stepped outside into the embrace of the sun, and watched with delight as the kids showed off their cartwheel moves. I marveled at how much they’d grown and matured in the time we had been at home and away from our school and church communities. It was a long, hard year, and there was so much we’d never get back. But this was a moment to relish — the fun, the giggles, and the joy of accomplishing a perfect cartwheel.
I sat on the front step and felt my body exhale. There would be time to finish everything I had to get done, but for now, all I needed was to rest.Leave a Comment