The Promise of Rest

pillow

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” –Matthew 11:28-30

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Someone asked me how I was doing yesterday, and my response was “Tired.”

No matter the season, we lay our heads down onto pillows every night. Our bodies always need rest. Yet, it seems at this time of year, we fall to our beds in utter exhaustion.

The weather (at least in this part of the world) does not help, since the sun is not out for long enough to give us a boost, and even if it were, it would be too cold to stand outside and experience it for long. But it’s not just the weather; it’s the way things pile up on top of us.

Most things aren’t bad in and of themselves, it’s the weight of all of them stacked together that becomes tiring to carry. The social gatherings, the shopping, the family obligations, the school concerts, the traditions, the decorating, the baking…. It is all just so much.

Sometimes, many times, I make it worse on myself by trying to be good at everything, and not let anything drop, and not let anyone down by getting a less-than-thoughtful gift, and not forgetting to do things to keep the meaning of the season in the midst of it all. (Like daily blogging for Advent? Who would do something like that? Every year, I love it and hate it all at the same time.)

Rest. I need rest. And not just sleep. I need the rest that comes from letting go. Holding things more loosely. Remembering that my worth is not dependent on pleasing people or getting everything done.

Later in His life, Christ confirmed through His words what His sleeping infant form implied: that He brings us rest for our souls.

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Pie Jesu – Future of Forestry

This song makes it into Christmas rotations on occasion, and after reading the English translation, I think I will make it a more regular one on my list. Here’s what it says,

"Merciful Jesus, merciful Jesus, merciful Jesus, merciful Jesus Father, who takes away the sins of the world Grant them rest, grant them rest Merciful Jesus, merciful Jesus, merciful Jesus, merciful Jesus Father, who takes away the sins of the world Grant them rest, grant them rest Lamb of God, Lamb of God, Lamb of God, Lamb of God Father, who takes away the sins of the world Grant them rest, grant them rest everlasting everlasting Rest”


NoticingImmanuel

Noticing Immanuel: a series for Advent. Each day starts with noticing: a picture of an everyday Christmas moment. That picture leads to a verse, a meditation, a prayer, and a song. My hope is that when we see those Christmas moments a second time, they will strike us differently. That we might feel the presence of Immanuel this Christmas season, whether we are sitting in quiet or moving in chaos.

empty space

When we moved, there were eight days between when we arrived and when the moving truck arrived. Eight days with limited clothing, housewares, toys, and furniture. It was a huge challenge. It was a challenge to feel comfortable. It was a challenge to keep my kids entertained. It was a challenge to keep me entertained (Did I mention that we also didn’t have Internet access or phone service for most of that time?)

But it was also an opportunity. Those eight days helped me understand what our new home looked like empty, so that I could be thoughtful about how to fill it.

Many nights, my husband and I would go into a room and think about its function. We would discuss what furniture we wanted in that room, and where to place it. We thought about which boxes would come into the house and which boxes would stay in the garage. By the time the moving truck did arrive, I knew exactly how to instruct the movers. I had a clear picture of what to do with the empty space.

Our home wasn’t the only thing that was empty when we arrived here: so was my calendar.

I transitioned from working mom to stay-at-home mom, so there was no work schedule for me. We moved in the summer, so there was no preschool schedule for Cameron. We didn’t have a new church community yet, so there were no volunteer commitments for our family. We moved into a rental, so there was no home-improvement schedule for our house. We came to Indiana with only one commitment: my husband’s job. Besides that, our schedule was clear.

A clear schedule has been new territory for us. My husband and I are both achievers. When one activity or project is completed, we tend to replace it with another one, or sometimes even two. We are gluttons for commitments.

The transition of the past few months has allowed me to experience what an empty schedule feels like. I have found something I forgot existed: space.

Space to connect with God. Space to connect with my husband. Space to connect with my kids. Space to reflect on who I am. Space to dream about the future. Space to explore. Space to flex when days don’t go as I hoped or planned. Space to give and receive grace. Space to understand that my identity is not rooted in my achievements. Space to remember that the weight of the world does not rest on my shoulders.

Be still, and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10

Things have slowly been added to our schedule. And that is good. I am ready. I am ready to be a part of a community. I am ready to use my gifts to help others. I am ready to let commitments fill back in. But now I have a clear picture of what to do with the empty space.

My goal is not to fill the space. My goal is to feel as fulfilled in the space as I feel in the achievements.

Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.- Eccl 4:6

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