Recently my kindergartner was reading a book to me and sped through a sentence so fast she might as well have been reading in another language. She exhaled after she did this, though, and quietly said, “Just slow down … slow down,” and then read the sentence again in plain English.
Witnessing this impressive maturity, I naturally started laughing (because I’m very mature myself).
“What’s so funny, mama?”
“I’m just so proud of you,” I said, squeezing her tightly.
“No—well, yes for reading—but really because you knew you needed to slow down.”
“And that made you laugh?”
“I just think it’s funny how similar we are.”
She sighed, weighing the truth of that statement, and then added, “Yeah…sometimes I read too fast.” (And run too fast and climb trees too fast, I thought).
“Me too, honey. Me too.”
She kept on reading her book (only needing to slow down two more times), and I walked out of her room that night feeling so proud—and so afraid!
Have you ever seen so much of yourself in your child that it made you laugh and cry all at the same time?
I mean, this kid could be my clone! She has the same humor, the same gait, the same equal passion, and of course the same speed. I look at her and see me—all of my strengths and, of course, all of my weaknesses.
But she’s not me, I have to remind myself daily. (And thankfully, she’s already way more mature than I am even now, because I am still learning how to slow down!)
In January, I did a 21-day fast with my church, and while it taught me many things, it mostly taught me that I needed to learn how to rest better.
People prayed this over me too, saying things like, Rest is a weapon and You’re running a marathon, not a sprint. While this was all fine and good, it just made me laugh. (Again, because I’m so mature.)
How can I still be learning this, God?! I wailed. I want to be obedient to you. I just don’t know what you mean!
In case you were wondering, rest means “freedom from activity or labor”—or, as in my case, “the repose of death.” I’m not kidding. Merriam-Webster actually states what every American fears: If we rest, we will DIE!
In all seriousness, I really do struggle with it. Take, for example, the Minnesota Polar Vortex we had this winter…
I got really sick one day and decided to do the unthinkable: take a midday bath. But while I was sitting there—resting—I asked God if I was doing it “right”:
Is this what you mean? I just sit here and relax and do nothing?
But God didn’t say anything to me right away. So I just sat there, soaking in my sudsy bubbles, resting (the dirty word that it is), and I started to feel antsy, guilty even for just sitting there when I *should’ve* been shoveling or cleaning or teaching my kids how to knit. And that’s when God said: Jonna, rest IS rest. Nothing more, nothing less. But you need to rest WITH me.
“Those who live in the shelter of the most high will find rest in the shadow of the almighty…for he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go” (Psalms 91:1,11).
And that’s when I understood: God wasn’t telling me to rest so he could hold me back. He was telling me to slow down so he could protect me.
“Ah!” I shrieked out loud, splashing water everywhere. “I have to tell my kids this!” Because if rest is a weapon, then we all need to know about it!
Friends, this means no more striving, perfecting, or comparing. It means that we need to surrender to God and not to the busyness of our lives (which is just a distraction anyway). It also means that we need to learn how to embrace God’s peace during our “panic,” so rest becomes a way of life instead of a momentary experience.
How do we do that? Well, we stop spending time on the things that don’t matter (like our “Twitter game”) and start spending time on the things that do (like praying and laughing and eating popcorn).
This doesn’t mean that we trade in all of our goals for binge-watching This is Us (although that does sound enticing). It just means that we become so connected to God that we’re able to discern when enough is enough and when less is more.
When I finally understood this (for the 80 millionth time), it helped me look at my speed-racer-child differently: where I once felt fear, I now feel hope.
Hope because I know she will learn the difference between working hard and striving because she will learn how to abide in her Heavenly Father (John 15:5). And how will she learn this? Through watching me do it; imperfectly, yes, but also consistently. (Thank you, grace!)
So I implore of you friend, use the gift of rest. Identify 1-2 things you can cut out of your life so you can add in more of the “good stuff.” It will be from this place of rest that you will live your best life. And not to sound melodramatic (but I’m going to anyway), your kids’ lives depend on it. #nopressure
“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.” (Matthew 11:28-30)