December is a busy time of year. I invite you to take a seat and a glimpse into my book and read about how rest has an important role in my life. I am sharing this section of my book in hopes to encourage others this month to not be swept up in their things to do list, but to take time to...
Pause. Breathe. Pray.
And experience what this season is all about; faith, family, friends, giving, love, peace and joy!
Sit back and rest awhile...
"Rest is something I used to think was just getting enough sleep. Yoga opened my eyes to taking the time on my mat to be still and tune out the world. My faith has showed me that my time being still is best spent tuning into God through meditation and prayer. I see the benefits to all these layers. Sleep is something that I cherish. I do my best to get at least seven hours a night. As I tune in more and more to who I am, I realize that my negative self-talk is louder, I am grumpier, and my perspective is overall skewed when I haven’t slept well. Stephen has reflected this to me over the years by simply saying, “Shawn, you need to sleep.” Oh course my initial reaction to him telling me I needed to rest was parallel to how I responded as a child when my parents and siblings would say, “Shawn’s tired.” I would scream, “I AM NOT TIRED!”
But I was.
And Stephen is right.
When I start snowballing into negative or irrational thoughts, or talking about things I usually would let go of, a simple good night’s sleep can help me shift to a better perspective. I see this with my kids as well.
When they are rested, they are more rational. When they are overtired, they can be irrational. Sometimes I wonder if adult’s behavior would be different if they were getting the sleep they needed?! I know mine is.
Yet I have three kids, and an uninterrupted night’s sleep can be uncommon. I came across a scripture a while back that really struck me:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” - Matthew 11:28
I am so grateful for this verse. It reflected to me that rest isn’t just about the hours of sleep I get at night. Rest is about being at peace in my soul. One of my favorite quotes reads:
“Peace, it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work, it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”34 (Anonymous)
Life is going to happen. I am mom to three kids. From sickness, wet beds, to a bad dream, I am on 24/7 and am going to be up some nights whether I want to be or not. I am learning that when all these things happen, to roll with it rather than resist it (although sometimes I really want to resist it! And do.) When I am in the midst of those things and roll with it, I can be calm in my heart. In acceptance there is peace. In resistance there is stress. I prefer to be at peace (as do those who are in my presence, I presume.)
As much as I know that sleep provides physiological benefits for the body and mind, I also know that if I don’t get sleep, there is another way I can rest, and that is through prayer. When I am exhausted and my mind swirls, I have a choice: to get through it on my own or turn to God. I have been trying on my own for much of my life and lets just say, the outcome hasn’t always been pretty. When I started to go to God to help me be at rest, it was a little strange. Yet over time I have found that prayer does give me peace and clarity to help me discern my next steps. I will picture God’s hands cupped together and picture myself laying down into them, being completely supported. As much as I practice resting in God I still find myself sometimes forgetting to even think of Him when the world begins to swirl around me.
This happened recently.
It was a unique week. The stomach bug visited the house, I was on minimal sleep, hardly ate anything, and I had to get the house ready for a family party. And the kicker was, Stephen came down with the bug too and was laid up in bed. I was mentally and physically exhausted, and the Friday before the party I was running on fumes and had to do it without Stephen’s help. From 5 am to 10 pm that Friday I was on the go, doing odds and ends. That evening Matthew was having a moment and was crying hysterically. I didn’t pause to breathe or pray, I simply lost it and screamed, “STOP SCREAMING!” at Matthew.
Immediately I heard Stephen make his way upstairs. He came into the room and said, “You sound like a crazy person.” And I said, “I feel like a crazy person right now.” I was stretched too thin and I never rested, physically or spiritually. I didn’t think to take a twenty-minute nap or pray for patience, endurance, clarity, or anything. I was so consumed by my to do list that I let it rule me rather than pausing, even if not physically, spiritually to pray.
Would prayer have made a difference?
I believe so.
Because God is the calm at the center of every storm in life, inviting me in to sit with him rather than getting swept away with the wind.
Spending time in prayer provides me the rest to sharpen my mind. It is there to give me perspective on what is a desire versus a need. What is necessary versus extra. It gives me clarity and perspective, which are gifts. For me those gifts are received by plugging in to my energy source, God. And those days when I am plugged in and still physically overtired, I have no shame in going to bed at 8:00 pm and leaving things undone. For me, things are best left undone and picked back up in the morning when I am fresh. It serves everyone better when I am rested.
Sleep provides me the physical rest I need for my mind and body and prayer gives me the spiritual rest for my soul to discern how best to use my energy throughout my days."
(This excerpt is from my book My Journey to Live From the Inside Out chapter 18 - Nourishment on pages 135-138)
I am hopeful you find time to rest, physically and spiritually, so you can fully experience the gift each day is and the possibilities that lie within it.
Be well - and rested,