Ten months ago I felt a slight pain in my left shoulder. I ignored it as I figured with time it would eventually get better. It did improve over the summer, but this fall it started hurting. Again, I just ignored it, but after two months it was worse. Christmas season was in full swing, but I pushed on even though the pain was beginning to upset my sleep. Finally, I consulted a doctor. Result? I have a sprained shoulder and muscles with lactic acid build-up causing extreme tightness. Translation: You didn’t admit your problem, therefore you will have to endure severe pain as they work out the tightness. And I’m talking severe pressure point massage pain that has brought tears to my eyes. But, this almost daily “thorn in my side” therapy has taught me a few things about admitting.
1. Admit that rest is good for you, and don’t let guilt step in.
If you don’t rest, rest will be forced upon you. Just like my shoulder, if you don’t rest, your body and mind will eventually force you to rest. This is called burnout in the “m” world. Nobody wants burnout or severe fatigue. Rest is good for the mind, not just the body. When everything is in high gear, isn’t one of the first things we stop doing, is spending time in God’s word and being still before him? And tied with that is not doing those things we enjoy for fun like hiking, reading a book for pleasure, playing the piano (not practice for worship), or even taking a vacation without the work.
Trust me, I know how hard this can be. The laundry, the dishes, the meals, the homework that needs to be graded and lesson plans submitted, ministry reports that need to be filled out and the ministry that needs to happen to write on those reports. It all adds up and the weight of it all can be so heavy, but . . .
2. Admit it, Jesus asks us to rest.
It’s a familiar verse that we have probably memorized, but have the hardest time actually doing. Jesus sends out his invitation saying, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, NIV). These days Weary and Burden seem to link arms with me as I walk on this path of life. That is hard for me to admit. I have been self-sufficient and fairly independent my entire life, but I believe that is what God wanted to work out of my life. You see, my middle child has special needs, which requires energy that I feel I don’t always have.
At 13 years of age, she has the mental capacity of about a 4-year old. She is funny and loving, but she has hit her “teenage” years. She’s mainly nonverbal, so her typical teenage monthly “fits” are pure disobedience, screaming, and just getting angry in general very quickly. Thankfully, other moms with girls with the same syndrome tell me that it all eventually levels out. But, how do I accept Jesus’ invitation to “come and rest” now, in the midst of it?
I have found for me the best way is to get up before everyone to sit quietly with my Bible, my journal, and a cup of coffee. I reflect on the day before, read a passage, and then I sit still and remember who God is. I’ll be honest some days this sitting still is maybe ten minutes, but in that time I lay my burdens, my fears, and whatever else God puts on my heart to talk to Him about. It’s in the brief time that I stop and remember who is God.
3. Admit the lies about busyness.
If I’m busy doing all these great things then people will think awesome and wonderful.
My supporters won’t doubt what we are doing here and maybe even more people will want to support us.
Who else is going to reach these people, take care of their needs? If I don’t then what will happen to them?
Be honest, you’ve thought this or something similar, right? Last week my husband read me a quote that someone shared on Facebook. I did some research and found it was from Chris Brown’s site Stewardship.com. This quote speaks truth loud and clear: “Extreme busyness is not a badge of honor – it’s code red.”
Last week as I sat on a chair lined up next to six other elderly adults, all of us with cords coming out of a machine attached to some part of our body, I thought about Chris Brown’s statement. I examined my lifestyle and even my attitude towards rest. Here were some questions I asked myself,
- Was I consistently spending time reading and studying God’s word?
- Was I resting on the Sabbath?
- Do I have a hobby I enjoy doing and can I admit that it is okay to do it?
- I asked myself if I could place myself on a scale with busyness on one side and rest on the other, where would I put my “x”?
- What do I need to admit to about rest? About my spiritual disciplines?
Admitting we need rest isn’t easy and we don’t always succeed, but isn’t that the beauty of grace? Loving us in our failures, showing us where we need to admit and adjust, and patiently waiting for us to enjoy Him.
How easy do you find it to admit that you are in need of rest? Do you need to evaluate how you are doing by asking the same questions that I asked myself?
- Are you consistently spending time reading and studying God’s word?
- Are you resting on the Sabbath?
- Do you have a hobby you enjoy doing and can admit that it is okay to do it?
- Where do you put your “x” on the busyness/rest scale?