A few years ago, I found myself caught in a season of over-busyness. I was working full time in a marketing role, parenting a toddler, and juggling lots of other church and social commitments too.
I often found myself feeling stressed out, and longing to slow down, yet struggling to know how to make the changes that I so desperately craved in my life.
And as I wrestled through these seasons of busyness, I kept wondering how was it that I had almost reached the halfway point in my life, but still never really learned the art of resting well?
Looking back now, I wonder if perhaps a lot of the exhaustion that I felt was caused by my inability to switch off, tune out, unplug, and get offline. Am I alone in this? I very much doubt it…
Like me, do you often find yourself crashing out on the sofa in front of Netflix at the end of the day, aimlessly scrolling through Facebook, or shopping online for things you don't really need?
Although this might be physical rest, it might be relaxing on the sofa instead of rushing around; the truth is that it’s rarely mental downtime or the deep soul rest that we really need.
We live in a digital age where we’re constantly overloaded with information, so even though many of us live a very sedentary lifestyle these days, we still don’t necessarily feel less tired.
Maybe true rest is less about physically stopping, and more about resting the mind.
Maybe it’s less about doing nothing, and more about doing something different. And maybe it’s less about zoning out, and more about checking in more – both with ourselves and also with God.
Of course, our need to regularly rest is not a newsflash for our Creator! The concept of ‘Sabbath’ – taking one day in seven to step away from the schedule, the to-do list, and the routine – was his idea after all.
And what I gradually discovered as I dug deep into God’s word is that you don’t have to rip up the script, quit your job, or move completely ‘off the grid’ in order to experience a slower, simpler, and more soulful way of life. Jesus invites us to permanently live in his rest exactly where we are.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
(Gospel of Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)
Pause for a moment, and just let those words sink in. Jesus himself invites each one of us to watch how he does it and to imitate him. So why don’t we just take him at his word, and follow his lead?
I know that scheduling regular ‘time out’ is not an especially popular concept in our modern world which is always ‘on’, but if Jesus himself prioritised regularly withdrawing to a quiet space alone during his years of public ministry, then isn’t it something that we might need to consider too?
Perhaps you are an extrovert and a classic A-type doer like me, and the idea of withdrawing to a remote place for hours on end, sounds a little bit… well, boring. But remember that you can create better margins of rest in your life exactly where you are and that Jesus invites you to enter his rest by keeping company with him, not by being on your own.
So why not try scheduling a day of rest each week, where you step away from work and switch off your phone and other devices, in order to give your soul some space to breathe?
Or maybe if a full day feels too ambitious, you could even just begin with one evening during the week instead? Take a bath or go for a walk around your neighbourhood and use it as time to think and pray. Or perhaps practice taking ten minutes for silent reflection at the end of every day.
At first, it might feel a bit counter-intuitive when you’re so used to being busy, but honestly, this simple act of scheduling regular downtime from technology and other distractions in my week has become such a transformative and restful spiritual practice for me.
*Photo credit to Alejandro Piñero Amerio from Unsplash
Anna Kettle is a Christian writer, marketer, and mom.
Her first published book, ‘Sand Between Your Toes: Inspirations for a Slower, Simpler & More Soulful Life’ just released last Thursday, 12 March.
This beautifully presented book is an inspiring collection of daily devotions, hope-filled prayers, and de-stressing lifestyle tips that will encourage readers to slow down, simplify and find God’s peace each day amid life’s many complications.
Anna is a coffee lover, bookworm, travel enthusiast, music fan, keen foodie, gatherer of people, and a big believer in the healing power of words.
She is married to her husband Andy, and mom to their little boy Ben. They live in the beautiful waterfront city of Liverpool in England.
You can find Anna regularly blogging at www.annakettle.com or regularly posting on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram at @annakettlewrites