Spiritually Speaking: Well-Rested

Spiritually Speaking: Well-Rested

So, it’s still a Monday in my timezone, and methinks that calls for some real talk.

Today marked the fourth day since my wisdom tooth extraction. I still can’t open my mouth more than an inch and I look like I took a right hook to the jaw. All day I smiled at coworkers in a feeble attempt to not look as pathetic as I felt, but with it being so lopsided I think it had the opposite effect. I wore a maxi skirt because I haven’t shaved my legs in four days since bending my head forward makes the left side of my face feel like it’s going to explode.

On the plus side, there’s a good chance I’ve lost a few pounds thanks to my limited, baby-food-through-a-straw diet.

TMI, maybe, but oh well, there it all is.

Yes, thank God I only had one of these that needed to be removed instead of four (but, to be honest, hearing that is getting a little old, no offense to those who’ve tried to comfort me with those words).

To clarify, this isn’t about how much pain I can or can’t take. My threshold is fairly high; I’ve only taken a couple ibuprofen in the past few days. Could it be worse? Absolutely. And I’d manage.

But more than anything, pain is frustrating to me. I hate feeling inhibited or helpless. It makes me feel lazy and unproductive, which then makes me feel guilty, which eventually leads to me being grouchy.

I know, I know, I’m ruining the perfect image you have of me.

Before I go further, here’s what I’m getting at: Some of us (aka me) need to be forced to relax once in a while. Sometimes life literally needs to knock us off our feet in order for us to comply and put them up for a bit.

There’s nothing wrong with being tough and persistent, but I guess sometimes we need the reminder that we don’t have to be.

I didn’t know I needed that reminder.

I also didn’t realize how distorted my definition of rest really was.

This past Friday, post-surgery, I admit I had a too-optimistic expectation for recovery (too optimistic? me? never.) and probably was a little too gung-ho the first couple of days, against the doctor’s warning.

On Saturday, for example, I thought spraying the weeds in my front yard would be low key enough. But after getting my blood pumping and body temperature raised from the ninety degree heat, I came inside and immediately felt worse, physically.

Needless to say, the weekend was not as “productive” as I prefer weekends to be.

It’s just difficult for me to sit still, ever.

Oh sure, I love my books or occasionally dipping into nostalgia by playing MarioKart with my brother. But I usually do such things in the evenings, after my day has been exhausted by crossing off items on a myriad of sticky notes.

Otherwise, I’ll sit there, book or controller in hand, and mentally abuse myself for my negligence–running my brain over all of the things I need to get done.

While my body might benefit from the downtime, I’m pretty sure there’s more to resting than that.

According to the dictionary, the verb “rest” means to “cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.”

The italicized keywords there suggest that actual rest comes from more than spending time being idle.

In order to feel truly rested while recovering, I finally realized it takes more than me begrudgingly laying on the couch beating my internal self up for all the tasks not getting accomplished.

I had to dig beyond all of that and remember what really matters. I had to take some deep breaths and let them sink way down to hush that nagging voice of “go, go, go, work, work, work.”

Maybe you can relate. Maybe you get your full 8 hours of sleep every night but still feel drained when it’s time to get up. Maybe you make time for fun or lounging around in your free hours, but when it’s time for work again you still don’t feel completely recharged and ready for it.

Rest is a total body, mind, and soul process, and it’s so easy to let busyness or mindless matters hold us back from attaining it.

If you didn’t know it already, it’s also pretty important to God, who set apart an entire day just for resting (e.g., Genesis 2:3, Leviticus 23:3).

He knew firsthand that labor would be part of our lives. He also knew it was vital for our sanity and health to devote ourselves to replenishment in order to avoid burnout.

God promises to give us rest and restore our inner strength, through scriptures like Matthew 11:28 (ESV) “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” and Isaiah 40:31 (KJV) “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

But, we have to let Him.

Rest, and absolute peace, is achieved when we take time to focus on the things that hold value to us, after we hand over our petty stresses. It can be found buried beneath mental piles of plans and ideas and daily concerns and social media pressures and worldly entertainment and all sorts of other first world problems.

All of those things numb us for a time, or even momentarily captivate us, but leave us unsatisfied and restless.

I get that it might be different for everybody. There’s the self-care movement and a focus on meditation and overall spirituality lately. Maybe yoga is a way you rest, or writing, or listening to soulful music.

For me, being well-rested means shutting out all modern distractions and intentionally praying, thinking on and reading edifying, godly things. Once I’ve fed my soul, all my other layers of self are at rest as well, regardless how efficient the remainder of my day goes, or doesn’t.

Unfortunately, it took me a couple days more than it should have to remember all of this, and to realize that sometimes the Lord just wants us to stop, drop and roll our burdens and pains into His hands and let Him hold us and our attention for a little while.

My dishes might still need to be put away, my clothes might be forcing their way out of my dresser drawers, and my fridge is hungry for groceries.

But I’m thankful I allowed myself to rest and focus on the quality of time I had instead of the quantity of things I could do in that allotted time.

In the midst of my actual pain and frustration, there is peace in knowing my Creator is in control and doesn’t need my strength to make sure things work out the way they need to.

It’s OK to slow down; it’s OK to not get everything done; it’s OK to take time for yourself and what matters to your soul. In fact, it’s needful.

Fort Augustus, Scotland, UK

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter, and I wish you a blessed week.