I’ve noticed a lot of irony surrounding my days, especially lately as I’ve begun to recognize my avoidance of beginning my day slowly. I picked up from a shelf in our study a book about rest, with intent to allow its words of wisdom to saturate my morning ritual, which is currently to take far longer than is healthy at the gym each and every morning. If I don’t get in my allotted time working out, I feel like I’m not entitled to eating well or having a wholesome afternoon full of experience.
Needless to say, I didn’t pick the book up. It’s as though I’m too engrossed in this life of unrest, of doing things every minute for the sake of business and of productivity (or so my mind tells me). I don’t want to let go of the justified exhaustion at the end of the day when all I am capable of is collapsing and vegging out at a television or with a new fiction to read. The second I learn about self-care, of addressing the exhaustion in my life, I fear that I’ll lose that justification. I’ll feel like I’ve wasted my day if I don’t come home at the end of it having exerted energy toward something else every waking second.
My boyfriend knows about my troubles and my perceived need to be always busy, always doing things. He picked up a book the other day by Parker J. Palmer, entitled “Let Your Life Speak.” One of the many breathtaking, yet not as profound as we may think, passages found in the middle of this book is as follows.
“By surviving passages of doubt and depression… I have become clear about at least one thing: self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Any time we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many other lives we touch.”
I received a text three days ago, which included these words, from the man in my life. I smiled, I teared up a little. I have yet to embrace those words. Finals are starting today, I tell myself. Just one more week before I’ll start taking care of myself and resting a little bit. But we all know how accurate this is. I’m incapable of embracing the rest that I so desperately crave, at least subconsciously. Perhaps to make that special effort, fighting that urge to leave my house as soon as I wake up and rush off to the gym to get everything done that I think I need, before the rest of my day can begin.
“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.” This is Matthew 11:28-30. This is truth. We are not designed to go and go and go until we can’t go any longer. We’re designed to perpetually replenish with energy straight from our Maker. And the only way to do that is to stay in constant contact. Take a moment every morning to share your troubles and your exhaustion, get a conversation going with the father of the universe, who also happens to care immensely for you and me, and be especially fond of you. And of me.
So tomorrow, perhaps I will come to Jesus with my burdens and get some rest. We’ll see. It’ll be hard. It’ll be worth it.