If we are all dealing with a rest deficit, how do we resolve this issue? Most of us have already tried a variety of ways and not really reached the goal we hope. Given how rest deficits influence not only our enjoyment of life but our health, it behooves us to not keep ignoring this ongoing problem that afflicts most of us.
An article from Integris Health on April 16, 2021, reports:
“Even without a pandemic, Americans are stressed. About 33 percent of people report feeling extreme stress, and up to 73 percent report that stress impacts their mental health.”
Maybe we need to consider whether we really know what rest means. I know that sounds absurd but clearly there is more to it than we tend to realize or consider. And consideration means deliberately taking time to do that. If we start with health articles, we will get good ideas, but they will sometimes add more “to do” to get to the goal instead of accomplishing what we need.
Does rest mean sleeping? Doing nothing?
When I was growing up, that was what I believed. Resting meant a nap on Sunday afternoons(“a day of rest”) after church and lunch. It was a part of honoring that day. The scriptural admonition found in Exodus 20:8 provides the basis of those habits my parents encouraged.
“In Exodus 20:8 we are commanded to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. This commandment to observe a set-apart time to rest has been overshadowed by the ‘thou shalt nots.’ The only commandment urging us to remember is the main one we have forgotten. The unending list of things that need to get done stands before us like a drill sergeant barking orders. In the midst of the noise, rest sounds like one more item added to an overwhelming list.
God did not make rest a mere suggestion. He commanded it.”Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD
What I did on those Sunday afternoons that was for “a day of rest” was sleeping. Perhaps that was something you learned too. But rest and sleep are not the same thing. Little wonder we are not getting all this straight when we start to look at this issue.
“So many Americans are caught in the grind of work, family responsibilities and ongoing stress. Often, we only allow ourselves to truly rest on holidays or vacation. However, it’s so important to prioritize adequate rest and quality sleep in your everyday life. Rest and sleep are two different things, but both are equally important to your mental, emotional and physical health. Plus, prioritizing rest can actually improve your quality of sleep.”Integris Health, April 16, 2021
Too many of us too often have issues with sleep. It can be difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep or any number of things that interrupt our efforts to get the sleep we have known we need, but perhaps one of the keys to better sleep is to realize that if we undestood better how to rest, sleep might also be improved.
“Sleep is different from rest, but good quality sleep trickles down from a life well rested. We may sleep in response to rest, but resting doesn’t require us to be in a state of sleep.”Saundra Dalton-Smith
When God began to create the world, the heavens, and everything else, it seems He conveyed that every aspect needed rest in some form or another. Changes of seasons bring our trees in the Midwest United States from shades of green to golds, yellows, oranges, and red, and then they drop to the ground as colder temps begin and the wind gusts and days grow shorter. For months they stand as barren sentinels and may appear dead when it might seem they are resting instead so that when spring comes, and flowers appear on the fruit trees a new harvest can begin to grow.
For the Israelites, God told them in Leviticus 25 that after planting and harvesting for six years they were to allow the land to rest the seventh year so the poor could eat. There was no planting that year and yet it was resting and allowed the poor to be able to find some bits of food. Letting the land replenish also was at the heart of what my father did when he was a farmer and rotated the crops in the field since some things he planted depleted the soil more than others. A crop rotation can help to manage your soil and fertility, reduce erosion, improve your soil’s health, and increase nutrients available for crops.
Isn’t it sad that men and women seem to be the ones who most stumble over the issue of rest? We become driven more quickly than we intend. We push to do more to affirm we are capable, competent, sacrificial, and more. If we are believers, we may set aside many things we perceive as not good so we can have a deeper spiritual life and then begin adding so many good things, we run out and become depleted before we even recognize it. Ministry no longer is joy for us, and our creative juices leak away.
Little wonder we are entangled and may even resist the things needed to get the rest we need to live life to the fullest. Rest is not about stopping doing, but it is how we replenish ourselves to live life to the fullest. Rest can be active or passive, but the need for it cannot be ignored.
I recall so well a saint in the Lord I loved dearly more than 40 years ago who shared this nugget with me, “The enemy uses two tools against us very effectively that we must keep watch for. He makes us busy, or he makes us tired…sometimes both.”
Over the next few posts, we will look at identifying different types of rest and explore how replenishing them with the right kinds of rest can break the cycle we seem perpetually to be pulled back into despite our best efforts.
“Healing and wholeness require access into our lives, and room to make us better. That is what rest does. Rest causes you to be still and seek to know God. It calls you to look deeper at yourself and your surroundings. It forces you to stop. We often view life as if looking through the window of a speeding car. Rest, rather implores you to slow down and fully live. It challenges you to shift from having the scenery fly by in a blur to inhaling the scent of pine on the scenic route of your life. To take it all in and experience it. Rest is not simply pushing the pause button on your day. Rest is not merely taking a break. Rest is about replenishing, restoring, renewing, recovering, rebuilding, regenerating, remolding, and repairing. Rest begins with the prefix re- because it requires us to go back to a prior state. It is a second chance. It’s an opportunity to put back in order anything that has shifted out of alignment with God’s best.”Saundra Dalton-Smith