This week, after a whirlwind weekend of celebrations and travel, I hit an energy wall. I was exhausted– mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
In the past, I would have pushed through, ignoring my body, brain, and soul’s exhaustion. But since becoming a Christian minimalist, I am much more aware of the importance of rest. So that night, I ate dinner, watched a movie I’d been wanting to see with my husband Will, and went to bed early. The next day, I felt like a whole different human being.
Rest and Consumer Culture
Rest is very much underrated in consumer culture. In fact, we are often rewarded when we don’t rest. If we work over the number of hours expected, for example, we are usually praised for our work ethic and rewarded with promotions or salary increases.
Consumer culture does not value rest (and in fact rewards not resting) because rest does not serve consumerism. If we are resting, we are not producing. And according to consumer culture, if we are not constantly producing, we are worthless.
This is why in many Western cultures we do not value retired folks– since they are no longer producing in order to serve the consumerism machine, they are no longer valued members of society. This also applies to stay-at-home parents and those who cannot work a “normal” job because of disability or illness. If we do not constantly work to get people to buy and consume and make companies money, we are not of value in consumer society.
God and Rest
God, however, tells us a different story. Consumer culture urges us to push through and not listen to our need for rest in order to make more money. God reminds us that we were not created to work all the time, and gives us Sabbath rest as a way to spend time with God and refresh ourselves in body, mind, and spirit.
In fact, God actually rested after creating the world (Genesis 2:2-3). If even God needed to rest, why do we think we are exempt from needing rest?!
Jesus, God in human form, also made sure to rest and spend time away from work to pray and be with those he loved. He would frequently leave to spend time in prayer and away from others, and was seen napping (Luke 4:42; Mark 6:46; Mark 4:37-41).
At its core, our need to constantly work is connected to our need for control. When we rest, we do not have control over our work. But God gives us the gift of rest so that we can regularly surrender that need for control and let things be for a while.
Rest is a holy act of faith where we truly believe in God’s ability to run the universe without our control or help.Mary DeMuth
Just as Jesus made rest a priority when he walked the earth, he invites us to regularly rest and refresh. When we rest in Jesus, we surrender our need for control and we are better able to live the abundant life God is calling us to live. We are more able to love and serve God and others when we take the rest that God created us to take. Jesus tells us:
Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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
Through rest, Jesus helps lighten the load. We feel lighter physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually when we take time for rest, refreshment, and renewal.
Some Practical Tips to Rest More
- Schedule some time to rest every week. This rest time would preferably be a Sabbath day, focused on God, rest, and time with loved ones– but half a day/a few hours here and there can do, in a pinch.
- Pare down your schedule so that you can more easily find time for rest. Stop saying yes to everything, and get comfortable with saying no. Only say yes to those time commitments that align with what is most important.
- Scrolling through social media/mindlessly watching TV or YouTube videos has its appropriate time and place, but when done for long periods of time don’t typically make one feel rested or refreshed. Take a look at how much time you spend using media, and see if you’d like to shorten that in order to make time for rest.
- Brainstorm some ways you’d like to pray/connect with God more. Try new ways of praying, and see if you feel more spiritually refreshed.
- Once your schedule is pared down and you have more time for rest, find ways to rest with loved ones and with yourself. Extroverts will need more time with people; introverts less time. Find ways to rest alone and with others that match your personal balance.
- Set a reminder on your phone for when to get ready for bed each night. Hold yourself to it. Set the reminder as close to 8+ hours before you’re scheduled to wake up as you can.
- Know that God rested, and you can, too! Give yourself permission to rest and not feel like you should be doing something productive. If you feel guilty for resting, remind yourself that if God needed rest, you do, too.
How is God inviting you to rest and refresh?
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