I’ve decided to do something I’ve not done before. I’m blogging everyday throughout advent. This year has been quite something and this series is seeking to distill some of the hard lessons I’ve learned this year in short daily blogs. All of these focus on a key question I have been asking myself ‘Who am I becoming?’
Holistic Well-Being 4: Rest
My Fatigue forced me to recognise that I was deeply unhealthy as a whole person. The person I was becoming was not one who was growing in wholeness and health, but one was who becoming increasingly unhealthy and dysfunctional. The implications of this not only effected my own well-being, but my family and all those I cared about. Something needed to change. In this second block of reflections I share some of the lessons I’ve learned about being holistically well and caring for myself.
I thought I was pretty good at resting. I wasn’t one of those ministers who looked at emails on my day off. I always took my day off and didn’t work on it. That was the point right? But a nagging question was growing, what if ‘time off’ and ‘rest’ weren’t the same thing? Or more pointedly what if ‘not working’ didn’t equal ‘resting’. I had mastered not working, but resting was more elusive. It had been for years, I had always struggled to stop and not achieve. Days off were filled with doing all the housework, cramming in all my hobbies or finding lots of DIY projects to do. The focus was on achieving, or doing. As I’ve previously shared, I really wasn’t very good at the being part. But fatigue forced me to rest, or at least to stop, I had no choice but to lie in bed. Though I still managed to find a great many ways to lie in bed but not rest: Read lots of book, watch films, allow my mind to race with all the things I’m not doing and missing out on…
It’s easy to look like you’re resting, it’s a lot harder to actually do it! I wouldn’t get better, nor become a healthy, balanced, functional human being – which is the kind of person I want to become! – if I didn’t learn how to rest. I needed to stop. Stop doing, stop thinking, stop planning, stop striving, and simply be. Just me being, knowing God was there and it was ok. A hard lesson to learn, and one I’m still learning. Many of these lessons have to be learned by practice. Choosing to live in a certain way, that then shapes the kind of person I am, and the kind of person I am becoming.
Proper rest is an on-going project. I’ve been greatly aided by the idea of ‘Sabbath’ – a ‘temple in time’ as Rabbi Heschel put it. A day when no work is done, which includes thinking about work, or achieving anything. Its a time to be, to delight, to rest, to worship and to be refreshed. It’s an act of resistance that says no to busyness, and endless achievement. It embraces my goodness as an image bearer of God, to do as he says and stop and be. It’s a choice, made every moment of that day, to resist all the things I could do and feel I should do. Instead I stop to remind myself that I am dependant on God alone. Everything else can wait. How freeing and liberating and deeply contrary to that inner drive within me, which is exactly why I need Sabbath in my life!
Questions For Reflection: When do you rest in your week? Is your ‘time off’ also rest or not? What practices might help you to rest? Can you go a whole day without ‘achieving’ anything?