dragon

Big Boy still takes an afternoon nap, but settling him down for this rest time takes more work now than it did a year ago. He’s three-and-a-half, and he knows that fun goes on while he sleeps. One of the few things that calms him down is me lying down with him until he falls asleep, and because we all need his nap, I do it.

I used to resent the extra time that felt like nothing for me, but his little self drifting off into a place of rest became an invitation for me to do the same. Sometimes I watch his eyelids drop softly closer and closer down to his cheeks, only to jerk back awake, sometimes I stare out of the window at the winter sky, bright and white with light on some days, heavy with snow on others. Often I close my own eyes and let myself sleep for a few minutes.

You don’t realize how much you are carrying until you give yourself permission not to bear the load. 

I have made the choice to honor these moments as rest in my day, rest for my body, yes. But more importantly, rest for my mind, rest for my soul. Everyone is different – I have never been a physically busy person, but my mind works at a fast pace, balancing a load of To Dos, doubts, fears, goings on, meal plans, anything from the very serious, Where Is My Life Going? to the very trivial, Who Won Best Actress at the Golden Globes?

It doesn’t matter what the content of these thoughts are, the busy swirl that goes round and round and round takes its toll. And I know the toll when I let it go.

Because every time – every single time – letting go leads to peace, rest, release, and it is so strong, so total, that I can feel my whole body relax.

Easily one of the best parts of last year was keeping a weekly Sabbath,  I’m borrowing the term from Jewish practice of rest on the seventh day of the week because it is the best example of total, God-honouring rest I can think of. I tried to do as much as I could in the first six days of the week, and when the last one came, the goal was to do as little as possible, to spend time with my family and to spend time reading and reflecting. It was a beautiful part of my week, but one of the worst parts of last year was when I stopped setting a day apart of the week to rest, to stop, to turn off. I stopped practicing Sabbath.

What is our aversion to stopping? To resting? Why is it something we have to force ourselves to do? Why does it seem so unnatural?

Your work may be in an office, at a construction site, your baby’s crib, the dirty bathroom, an unhappy child, typing words on a page, painting a canvass, teaching a classroom or a host of other occupations, but I’m going to be bold and say that I’m not alone here. You also struggle to put work aside, to come to a full stop.

Our world sends us two messages every day from the time we are born: “You are not enough. But you can be enough if you have ______. ” And we spend our lives, our time, our energy, our passions, our money, we will spend everything we have in the pursuit of that thing that will make us feel like enough. 

It is this journey to line our lives with adequacy that leaves us so finished and exhausted.

candle

This is why in 2015 I am drawing my boundary lines again around two places: One day of the week and one moment every day.

I am going to find a moment daily when I let my soul and body exhale. There is no giant time limit on this, it is the five minutes I spend watching my son fall asleep. It’s 30 minutes on a rug in front of a fire playing with cars. Two minutes spent lighting candles. Anything that welcomes rest.

And I put a wall around one day of the week, I am saying, No more. This day I will not engage my thoughts in things that for me are work. This day I will not do laundry, tidy up, stress out and make my family “do things.” What do I envision for this day? Playing a lot with two little boys. The phone is absent. The computer is off. I will cook – I love to cook. We will eat as a family, sometimes just us, sometimes with friends. I will choose to discipline my mind to not “go there” in the realm of busy, worrying, thoughts about what’s next and planning. We will pray. I will sleep when I can. I will chill out. I will not pressure the people around me to do as I do or live as I live. I will live freely from my space.

It means I will have to try to get some other things done on Saturday. Some of my projects related to writing or organizing and planning will have to end on Friday. I will have to create boundaries and limitations. There are activities that will remain undone. People will be disappointed. I will have to say, No. I will have to embrace imperfections. I will have to let things go.

Choosing sabbath rest is my declaration that I cannot do it all, that I am limited and fallen. Choosing sabbath rest is my radical belief that God will take care of my life, the details, everything. 

We are still in January, I have no idea how practicing a Sabbath will progress in 2015, but it’s one week at a time, one moment at a time. Last Sunday I was in bed with a cold; we will call it forced rest. Last week, I watched my little dragon fall asleep. I promise there is nothing more wonderful in the whole world that watching a green, three-and-a-half-year-old dragon fall asleep. Friday night I lit the candles in our windows, they are burned almost completely down, some were gone, but I lit them anyway. Because perfection is not welcome in our home or in my heart, and the perfect light of God will shine through our glorious imperfections.

Yesterday we had a big brunch with eggs and bacon, I read, wrote in my journal, my family napped. I tried not think about what comes next. It was restful. It was good.

Now it’s your turn: How do you rest? What do you need to do to stop the chase of enough in your life? Do you practice Sabbath in your day-to-day life? What does it look like?  

I’m linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee and the #TellHisStory community.