candles

Our car pulls into the driveway, two boys in the back seat minutes away from nap time. We are all ready for their time to sleep. I turn off the engine, try to pull the key out and nothing. The key is stuck, not coming out. Whining escalates from my backseat drivers, unhappiness abounds, I am starting to feel a bit desperate while the whisper of, First world problems, echo in my mind. I pray over the key, I ask God for a Miracle.

Nothing.

I’m sitting there, hands fiddling with the key, when I start to feel like God is Right There with his voice speaking quietly to my heart:

This is your key. 

While I admire God’s ability to try to make a joke, I don’t feel like dealing with two angry kids, so I take the boys out, put them both to sleep, praying and hoping no one will steal the car from the driveway with the key in the ignition. When I return to the car, I put my hand on the gear and then I hits me.

The car was still in Drive.

I push it into Park, turn the key, it slides out effortlessly.

I hear the voice again:

Park. Rest. Rest is the key. 

/

It’s no secret that I’m exhausted. All the time. All. The. Time. Whenever someone asks me how I am, my response is usually along the lines of, I’m well, you know, I’m tired, but I’m well. Most people look at the baby and toddler I tow around with me, smile and nod and then change the subject. It’s the rule, right? Small kids means fatigue.

My children are an easy target when I’m looking for whom to blame. The truth though? That’s a bit more complicated. Yes, I would have more energy if I slept without being woken up at night, and if I wasn’t breastfeeding, I would feel more well in general. But there are lots of little ways I give my rest away every single day.

I wear myself out by my time spent online because when I scroll through Facebook I’m observing, watching, digesting other people’s lives, and no matter how hard I try I find myself comparing, judging and regularly feeling jealous because who wouldn’t want to be flying off to (insert tropical island here) without small kids? It doesn’t even need to be so exotic, the sight of you eating a full meal in a restaurant without being interrupted by little hands and voices, that’s enough to make me feel like my life is lacking something.

And those thoughts about lack, those feelings that my life isn’t enough?

Exhausting. And far more wearying than a night of uninterrupted sleep.

I read a lot, mostly online, articles, blog posts, new ideas, new research. The vast majority of what I read is good, it’s edifying, technically encouraging and usually full of lovely ideas. But even this good reading lays a weight on my heart. Let’s say I read five blog posts in one sitting, which probably takes 30 minutes, and let’s presume that every single one of them were excellent, edifying and encouraging in content. It still leaves me with a head full of new ideas, opinions and ways-in-which-I-should-be-doing things, and if I did this every day for one week, that’s 35 competing ideas, and even if they aren’t competing, those are 35 different ways in which I could be doing, living, being differently. Even those articles about grace and resting in grace and being enough and I am enough leave me exhausted.

/

Months ago Katie, a blog friend, wrote about her Sunday dilemma. She was figuring out how to rest on a Sunday, how to set it apart from the rest of the week. It’s been on my mind ever since, and as 2013 drew closer and closer toward its end, I could feel the way my body, my soul and my spirit were longing for rest.

So as of 2014, one of our family resolutions is to set apart our Sundays, and from the start to the end, we spend the day resting. We try to prepare for it by doing as much as we can on Saturday evening, I make a large pot of soup on Sunday that we eat for lunch and dinner (simple recipe to come tomorrow). The laptop stays closed for me, no email, no blogging, no social media, no reading online. We play with the kids, sometimes we sing, we might spend time outside, but the main ingredient of the day is this – there is nothing we have to do. 

When both boys are down for their nap, I sit on our couch, light a few candles, pull out my journals, a book, my Bible, and I read and journal as much as I can. My pen scratches across the paper freely, I don’t think much about what I write, I lay down burdens and connections in my mind, in many ways I turn it off so that I can turn on my heart and soul.

This time is my fuel for the week. The more I empty myself of the burdens, worries, cares and concerns of the six days that preceded it, I fill up. With truth. With grace. With beauty. I refocus and recharge and remind myself of what matters: God, dreams, Word, my family, the world I inhabit in Stockholm, the simple. I leave each Sunday with more to give those I love in my life and more to give myself in the ups and downs of each week.

It turns out I needed to be in Park mode in more ways than one. Rest is quickly becoming my most prized possession in 2014, the key that opens the door to peace, joy and love.