Monday, March 10, 2014

on the importance of rest

Y'all. It's about to get really vulnerable up in here. Ok, so maybe vulnerable is a strong word. Transparent? Either way, it's about to get real

My mom says that when I was younger, she knew when I was either tired or hungry. She could tell in the way my mood changed. I became quiet (which was miraculous) or irritable. Not much has changed.

In high school, I led a somewhat sheltered life. My parents were strict, and most of my time was spent at church, school, or home. I wasn't always gallivanting around with my friends. But I still considered myself a social person. I cherished time with friends and loved to be with people. 

Enter the college years. I could make my own schedule. Mind blown. When I began to make friends, I liked to stay busy. I mean, what college student wants to watch movies in their dorm on Friday night? Alone?! Most of my time throughout my four years at UGA was spent at the Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM). I was on leadership for my sophomore and junior years and in a small group from freshman-junior year. But my classes were picking up, and this whole time management thing was getting hard. 

When I moved to Mexico, I wanted to be a part of everything, because I knew my time there was limited. I only had two years to make an impact and be impacted. It was all or nothing. I was all in. My church, Capilla Calvario  was a place where I was able to truly grow and be loved on by some truly amazing people. The community I found there was life-giving. One limitation to my busyness in Mexico was the fact that I did not have a car. Thus, I could only be involved in so many activities. I could only stretch myself so thin. 

Tsh Oxenreider speaks to the international living experience  in Notes from a Blue Bike:

When I first arrived, single and free as the day is long, my game plan was to hunker down and channel my inner Margaret Mead or Mother Teresa, ready to live like the locals and wave away my need for twenty-something, English-speaking friends. I'd speak more Albanian than English, I would roll up my sleeves and ladle soup, figurative or otherwise, for my neighbors who needed it, and I'd ignore any homesickness. This plan lasted six weeks. 

International living is not for the faint of heart, my friends. But oh, did it change my view of how I want to live my life. When I returned to life in America in 2012, I knew that my temptation would be to pick up a faster lifestyle again. I just didn't realize how easily I would do so. Stereotypes are true for a reason. And the stereotype for Americans abroad is that we work too hard and don't play often enough. Simply put, we don't take rest seriously. 

Rest is a command. It is not a suggestion.

Exodus 20:9-11 states: 
You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

Y'all, observing the Sabbath is what is best for us, because God said so. That's pretty much all the reason we need. For me, rest is something I am still learning how to do well. I like to busy. But I can make myself physically sick when I don't obey what God says about rest by setting up boundaries for myself and honoring my body. Honoring the Sabbath is another way for me to say, "God, I trust you. Help me to get done in six days what I would like to do in seven." He's faithful, and it's so worth to trust in His faithfulness.

Teaching is a rewarding, yet difficult profession. I learned within my first year that there were boundaries I had to set for myself for my health and sanity. I don't stay at school past 5 p.m., and I don't bring work home. I rarely work on the weekends anymore. For me, I am dedicated to loving my students day in and day out, but if I'm so stressed that I can't do that well, there is a problem. So I stick to those boundaries. And I have found that no one has died when I didn't answer an email over the weekend. 

For a while now, the Lord has been whispering the word simplify over me for a bit. And observing the Sabbath is not only an act of obedience, but a way to simplify when the world tells you to keep pushing for more. 

What about you? How do you rest?

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