Embracing a Routine of Rest

My heart sunk and my heart rate increased at the question. My mind was spinning with how to provide a satisfactory answer in that moment. I was growing much too accustomed to the stomach-churning emotions this question triggered, holding my breath hoping more questions wouldn’t follow. But the worst thing was that it was a completely normal question that I was asked sometimes on a daily basis.

What did you do today?

It was a Monday, my self-designated Sabbath, and I spent the day sleeping in, enjoying an extended time with God reading in the Bible, eating a slow, hearty breakfast, and writing, all while staying in my pajamas for a healthy part of the day. Later I met up with a friend for cappuccinos and cake and went for a swim in the lake.

How should I respond to the question? If I answer directly, will they think I just drink coffee and spend time with friends every day? Spend too much time alone “reading” and having introverted time? Bake and host social events? If I try to explain more, have I already lost them and given them more information than they wanted? When I really think about it, should I have spent the day the way I did?

So goes my thought process in the milliseconds I have before my long pause turns awkward.

The familiar turmoil this question produces within are like red flags signaling a deeper heart issue. Am I and the work I’m doing, legitimate? Am I doing enough? Do I even deserve to have a set day during the week I guard to rest? Is my work actually contributing to the vision of the church? Is God pleased with me? Am I enough?

The temptation to perform and appear productive alongside my professional, European peers feels constant. Most days, from the very moment I wake up, it’s a fight to remain in God’s rest and embrace my identity as child of God that makes me enough. It is sometimes so appealing to look to routine, skill sets, and job positions for meaning and significance, to feel understood by the majority of the population where I’m living.

How do I live with my eyes and heart fixed upon the eternal Kingdom amidst the mundane, temporal daily routine everyone else around me seems to be living for?

The words of Christ are spoken with uncompromising love: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple,” (Luke 14:26). Am I prepared to hate my life enough so that I surrender to the standards and expectations of the lost, poor, and searching world around me? Am I confident in the rest Christ’s salvation secures me so I can live free from performance and invite others in to His rest?

Regardless of the culture I’m inhabiting, how much I accomplish each week, how far I advance my education, which positions I fill, and the needs I meet, Christ and His work makes me enough, what my own work on a daily basis could never accomplish. The routine He calls me to build the structures of my day around is simply being with Him—enjoying His presence, listening to His voice, and resting in His finished work. Fruit cannot be produced without constant abiding in the vine from which life comes.

Such routine may not belong to the rhythms of this world but it is one I can embrace confidently and invite other restless, striving wanderers into.

Is your daily routine marked by this kind of rest? What are obstacles to making rest central in your daily routine?

Photo by Lili Kovac on Unsplash

9 Comments

  1. Heather Henson October 16, 2018

    Thanks Danielle! Your words and reflections hit the mark with me. This issue of rest versus my performance, control and efforts driven by motives some of which I know and others I don’t, seems to be my current battleground. This struggle seems to have intensified (compared to before) since I came to live in this country over the other side of the world from my own. Jesus has promised that, “We will get you free!” I know it’s a process and in one way, I’m okay with that but in another, I’m impatient to move through it to a deep immovable peace and rest in His Presence. Anyway, suffice to say that your post has been helpful. Praise God and please God…

    1. Danielle October 17, 2018

      Thank you so much for sharing this, Heather. I understand feeling impatient with the fight. Knowing that I am not alone in this, encourages me to continue fighting for rest and against the lies that often lead me to value other things more than Him.

      Your fellow fighter,
      Danielle Germaine

  2. Michele October 16, 2018

    Yes and amen to this! I have been learning it over the last few years, and life is just so much better, and actually more productive when my routine is built this way. Part of the struggle, as you pointed out, is that it doesn’t necessarily LOOK productive, especially when we’re just learning to embrace rest and still comparing ourselves to the busy ones around us. But it’s abiding in the Vine that brings true fruit, and building a routine around this key is vital. I love that you are confidently embracing this lifestyle and inviting others into it!

    1. Danielle Germaine October 17, 2018

      Thank you, Michele. I completely agree and have experienced that such comparison can often prove an obstacle to abiding. I think that this is why I have become angry to protect my first waking moments to bring my thoughts and affections immediately to Him before I’m confronted with any task (or person!). I am otherwise easily distracted and begin the day focused on productivity instead of rest and belonging. Thank you for your encouraging words!

  3. Kristin October 17, 2018

    Totally resonates with me – there are many days I wonder if I’m doing enough, doing the right things? Even now, I’m beginning my day in a coffee shop. I am so conflicted about what is the difference between rest and being lazy! 🙂 Trusting God to show me… Thank you for your words! Helps me know I’m not alone.

    1. Danielle Germaine October 17, 2018

      Thank you, Kristen. And your words help me remember that I am also not alone! I know these conflicting thoughts well. I think there is a fear many of us have of laziness. I have experienced that it is much more difficult and requires far more faith to say ‘no’ or cancel appointments than keep a full day’s schedule and not risk looking lazy. May we both trust that even if we appear lazy to others in certain moments, we have chosen the better thing!

  4. Angela October 21, 2018

    I never feel guilty about taking a sabbath rest! I am in a marathon, not a sprint, and for me to be healthy long term this is a must! This keeps burnout and exhaustion at bay. I have a lot of fun planning what I want to do on my day off.

    1. Danielle Germaine October 21, 2018

      Hi Angela, that’s wonderful you’ve embraced a sabbath day for yourself and that this has become a part of your routine. If I may suggest, that even more challenging can be incorporating this rhythm of rest into daily life outside of the designated boundary of one’s „sabbath day.“ For me, addressing my deeper heart issues of unbelief, fear, and performance and reminding myself of who I am in Christ is necessary every day of the week.

  5. Abigail November 21, 2018

    SO good! When I saw the title this Thanksgiving morning, I felt this is a gift from Father for me! In a season of mandatory rest due to some health issues. I’m waiting for the okay from a lab test to finally get back to regular exercise, but I also don’t want to rush out of this season without taking what He has for me from it back into my new routine. Thank you for sharing this. 😊

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