I’ve been so busy these past few years (yes, years), that the word “busy” makes me want to gag. “Oh, Elisabeth, I know you’re busy, but…” is how so many of my friends and family have approached a conversation with me lately. It wasn’t until recently that I learned that I have control over my schedule, and I can schedule periods of rest.
Like so many of you, I feel guilty when I take a break. My husband works forty hours a week, drives through an hour of traffic each way every day, and comes home with only a few hours to rest before bed. We are also both involved in ministries at church, we have family events, and we obviously want to spend time together. So, it seems natural to have a little bit of guilt to carve out a nap in the middle of the day while my husband can’t do that.
However, like all of us have unique triggers to our anxiety, we also have unique limits to our energy and unique requirements for rest. Studies say that young adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. You might only need 7 hours and 15 minutes, but I might need 8 hours and 45 minutes. (I haven’t quite figured out that magic number yet, but when I do, I will let you know).
God has been making it abundantly clear that I need to rest these days. I’ve been trying to develop a workout routine, start my own business, keep the house clean, maintain a blog, write a novel, and have somewhat of a social life. If you don’t work out regularly (like me), you might not know that it is important to take rest days so that your body’s muscles can recover from the intensity of lifting weights, running, or contorting into shapes that you didn’t think were possible. As a writer, I need mental and emotional rest days so I can recover from the emotional outpouring of my heart and mind into a story for all to read. When I’m editing, I also need to emotionally recover from the remorse I feel for the characters when a story ends. Practically, rest days are suggested, but biblically, rest days are required.
When you struggle with anxiety, it’s hard to know when to rest. Sometimes, even when you stop working, your mind still races a mile a minute. So, let’s talk about what it means to rest and when you should make time to rest.
God commands us to have a Sabbath rest, which is modeled after the fact that He rested on the seventh day of creation. The Sabbath shows a satisfaction in creation. God saw all that He created, and it was very good, so He rested. He didn’t have to do any more work. We should have that same mindset. If we are working 24/7 and are actually doing well at what we do, we should make time to rest, to celebrate what we’ve already done and to anticipate what we are going to do. The Sabbath was also established in the Old Testament to remind Israel that they are no longer slaves of Egypt. God had set them free, so the only master they needed to serve was Him. If you feel like a slave to your commitments, maybe you need to take time to rest.
God set up this time for us as a symbol of our need for rest. But what does it mean to rest? Like me, there are some people who cannot sit still without falling asleep. Some people have to go out for a run or draw or read a book. I believe that rest is making time for you to recharge, however you do that. Pastors Pete Scazzero and Rich Vallodas of New Life Fellowship in Queens have a video that helped me learn the idea of biblical Sabbath, and what you should do on the day that you designate to be your Sabbath.
Although we should physically rest from our jobs, our chores, and our workouts, true rest is not just a ceasing of activity; it is ultimately having inner peace. When we cease from the mundane projects that we do each day, we are reminded that our identity is not found in these things. God says that we are enough, just as we are, because of all the work that He has done for us. Do you believe that God is enough for you? Then take time to rest this week. You don’t have time? Make time. You can skip the meeting. You can call a babysitter. You can show up a few hours late to that party. Make time for you to recharge, reflect, and celebrate what God is doing in your life.