It’s such a simple word, yet so complex. And for me, such a challenge.
For the driven, can-do professional always planning months ahead, with organizational skills that could run a small country, rest always seemed like a luxury. Until your doctor tells you it’s “crucial for your recovery.”
That puts a different perspective on things, yet makes it no less a challenge. How do you put the world on halt, and tell those you’ve committed to that you just can’t do? How do you draw the line between enough and too much? Who determines what is adequate and appropriate and when we cross the line to excessive?
When the doctor looked into my eyes and told me that if I didn’t rest, I would cause my own demise, it was time to listen.
Yet as recovery took its course, and healing found its way to my physical being, the familiar spirits of the busy and drivenness quickly found their way back into my routine as the proverbial traffic light on my schedule turned from red to green. All systems were go. Except for me, that often meant all systems were in over drive.
With the holidays ahead, I wanted them to matter. I had always been the spreadsheet organized planner, gifts planned, bought, and generally even wrapped by Halloween, and certainly by Thanksgiving. Ours were the first Christmas cards in the mail. Decorating and baking were done in plenty of time to often need a second batch. But this year my strength and my motivation were left waning. By all accounts, I was “behind” and I felt like I had failed.
At first, I was even too ashamed to take my miserable state to the Lord and admit my need for help. As a young child when I asked for help and was politely countered with “You’ll be ok,” what I learned was, “it’s not ok to not be ok,” and “it’s not ok to need help.” It took several decades to untangle those lies and come to the conclusion that Jesus came and died on a cross because we aren’t ok and we aren’t expected to be ok.
As I came before the Lord in my brokenness, I wasn’t sure how he’d respond.
“Lord, I’m tired and I’m weary. I’m in pain and I’m hurting. On the outside people would never know, but on the inside I’m a broken mess waiting to crumble. As we approach Christmas, Lord, it’s a struggle. My ‘want-to’ doesn’t equal my ‘can-do.’ Lord, I want to be pleasing in your sight, but so little of what I see about my situation right now is even pleasing in my sight. What can I offer you this Christmas that is of any value?”
In the stillness I heard his answer.
“Rest. You can offer me your willingness to rest. Let go of the busy. Let go of the next thing in favor of the thing in that very moment. Enjoy the very moment I have given you at the time I have given it to you. I am in the moment. Stop racing ahead and missing me waiting for you in the now moment. All I want from you is time with you.
I give you those sunrises and sunsets, which you so thoroughly enjoy, and that delights me. But don’t miss out on the crunch of the leaves beneath your feet. The laughter of your children. The soothing cold of your favorite drink as it quenches your parched throat.
Be present with me in the moment and let me show you rest. I have already taken care of your every need. Your busyness is a lack of trust, which hurts my heart and drives you away from rather than into my presence. What can you give me this Christmas? Your presence in the present.”
How about you? Will you slow down and rest? Will you take the time and intentionally be present in the present this holiday season? Years from now our families won’t remember the majority of the gifts we exchanged, or the meals we served, but they will remember the time we spent in each others’ presence. And so will God.
Because of Him,