the Rhythm of Rest
We're happy this week to feature our friend Jennie Rader on Less, Please! Jennie is a doula (who helped in both of Allison's births), nurse, mother of five, and all-around amazing person.
Rest is More
If you know me, you might think it funny that I’m writing on resting. I’m not inherently good at it. I'm prone to keep moving, planning, creating, meeting, achieving. I also have a husband, five kiddos, and a small business, so resting is often elusive. But without the habit of resting, I fall apart, as does everything I hold most precious.
We all need the intentional practice of rest. We need it like we need food and drink. And not just sleep, but regular intervals of it while we're awake too. Rest may actually be the most crucial aspect of living a focused, uncluttered, intentional life. It brings everything into focus, helping us enjoy all that we love. There is always more to do, see, plan, achieve; but if we never stand back from our work, it never really comes into focus, nor can we see the beauty of the big picture.
“Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest.” - Mark Buchanan
Embracing the Sacred
Both our souls and our physical bodies thrive when rest is a regular practice. It shouldn't be a surprise that the ancient Hebrews kept a practice of Sabbath, or a sacred day each week set apart for rest.
Taking an entire day each week to carve out rest may seem too old-school for you. I thought that way once. I'd have insisted that I rested, you know ... here and there ... between the work, when I had time. But of course, not prioritizing it meant it never really happened: I was neither really resting NOR receiving the benefits of intentional rest. A sprinkle of rest is nothing like drinking up a full glass of it. It was always leaving me tired and discontent and, well, thirsty for the real thing.
When I was in college, my grandpa handed me a book called Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, by Richard A. Swenson. The author makes a compelling argument for building in margin:
We do not rest because our work is done; we rest because God commanded it and created us to have a need for it.
We must have some room to breathe. We need freedom to think and permission to heal. Our relationships are being starved to death by velocity. No one has the time to listen, let alone love. Our children lay wounded on the ground, run over by our high-speed good intentions. Is God now pro-exhaustion? Doesn’t He lead people beside the still waters anymore? Who plundered those wide-open spaces of the past, and how can we get them back? There are no fallow lands for our emotions to lie down and rest in.
In recent years, our family has adopted a rhythm of resting that has been life-giving. We began keeping Sabbath by necessity: our community and other commitments have a never-ending series of demands (not to mention the laundry!). When we neglect our habit of resting, chaos ensues.
We work hard to get our chores done beforehand so that we can bask in the open space it creates. We don’t just sit around breathing slowly that day; but we do set aside our to-do lists and obligations. For us, resting often includes time for hospitality, family togetherness, and worship. We commit to longer walks, meals, naps, porch-sitting, and conversations. We hide the baskets of laundry because they'll wait. It feels good and right, because we believe we were created to work hard and rest fully.
Finding Your Place of Rest
Enjoying rest is about knowing what rest is for you AND establishing the rhythm of enjoying it. It will take intention to make it happen. You might find you need daily, weekly, monthly, and annual times of resting. Spend some time writing down the things that bring you joy: dream a little. But also make room for unstructured rest. The type that allows your mind to wander, question, soul-search.
The harder part will be carving out your time of rest. You’ll have to say 'no' to scheduling things during that time, but learn to protect it.
Start with your daily and move to weekly. As you enjoy resting, you’ll crave it more and more. I Promise. Rest is the gift that illuminates all the other gifts of your life.