The Power of Rest

My dad is the hardest worker I’ve ever met. Some of my first memories involve him coming home from work, dusty and dirty from a long day on a construction site, to have family dinner & play games with me on the floor before heading out to remodel a room for a friend or repaint walls at church — for free. His integrity and his drive taught me so much about what it looks like to work hard & work well. I’ll never get anywhere close to being on his level, but I think I’m pretty okay at working hard when I need to. What I’m not so good at: rest.

A long time ago, something in me decided that there were two distinct groups for me to stick all my activities into: productivity & laziness. I’m not really sure when these wires got crossed in my mind, but I became really proficient at both. I worked hard. Then, when the time came, I slid seamlessly into mindless activities. You know what’s weird, though? Even after a “lazy day,” I was still tired. I was tired after days filled with hard work, too. A question started to sir in me: what if inactivity and rest have nothing in common?

Laziness is a noun, or at best, a passive verb. You don’t “do” lazy, you choose “to be” lazy. But rest? That’s an active verb. Rest is something you seek out, decide to pursue. It requires doing. An afternoon of laziness might rest our strained muscles or tired minds, but only rest can heal the wear & tear on our souls.

Are you feeling the weight of weariness that seems like it’s settled in to stay? Rest is the remedy. It’s what you’re craving. And here’s how it works.

Rest doesn’t mean doing nothing. It means doing the healthy thing. More times that not, everyday life just takes a toll that leaves us drained. Weak. Run-down. We need a recharge for our souls. In my experience, that healthy recharge is a threefold process.

Resting means celebrating what’s already been done. Resting well always follows working well. But in the hustle of meetings & plans & deadlines, we forget to breathe and congratulate ourselves — and others — on a job well done. Without this pause, this celebration, our souls will wear thin before we knows it. The next time you finish something, be purposeful in stepping away and celebrating it.

Resting is also about remembering. The busier we become, the more easily our priorities shift in unhealthy ways, or even slide off our radar entirely. Rest isn’t about a mindless evening in front of the tv, it’s about bringing the truly important to the forefront & investing in it. Hint: that’s people more often than things. Don’t become so glued to productivity that you disconnect from those you love. Spend intentional time with them — time that’s unrelated to work or stress. Enjoy life together. Those who know you well & love you best will quickly bring your soul back to good health.

Finally, rest is about recharge. This is the individualized part of the plan. Whatever it is that restores your passion, do that thing. For me, it’s solitude: either snuggling up with a great book or spending time on the side of a mountain. (Polar opposites, I know. I’m versatile.) I don’t know what recharges you. But you do. Unplug from life and do it. Leave the phone at home — let it recharge while you do.

These practices have transformed the way I approach work, and also the way I approach life. Hard work is good. Healthy down time is necessary. I’m learning to sense that soul-level burn out & pull away to do what I need most. But don’t worry, Dad — I’m still meeting all my deadlines. 🙂

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