Go! Go! Go!
Run upstairs to get the client specs. Run back downstairs to deliver specs to the factory floor. Run down the block to the print shop for a press check. Run to the car to catch a plane. Race to get home. Whip up a quick dinner while helping a kid practice music, checking email, and prepping tomorrow’s lunches.
Run! Run! Run!
Without warning, something goes wrong. The mailman shows up, and your crazy dog goes busting through the front door to greet him. As the dog runs by, she knocks over your kid. While you’re coping with this catastrophe, the dinner on the stove starts to burn and your critical email goes unsent.
Crash! Boom! Bang!
All at once, all your well-laid plans come to a screeching halt. Like a line of dominoes, the tipping of one is the downfall of all.
There are definitely seasons in life when there will be more busyness than others, and yet it seems that within the past 15-20 years, busyness is a way of life, even for children. We over-schedule ourselves into exhaustion. We are so busy we never really allow our minds to process the events of the day. When we do pause, we are stimulating ourselves with TV, phones, music, the works!
This is not a condemnation of industriousness. Productivity is valuable. However, productivity without quality rest is destructive to our health and happiness. God gave the Israelites a sabbath day of rest in which they were to do no work at all. It wasn’t a day off to get stuff done around the house nor was it time to get a little extra plowing done; it was a day of rest, holy to the Lord.
When Jesus’ disciples returned to Jesus to report all the work they had done, He says to them,
“Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.
~ Mark 6.30-32, ESV
Jesus wanted His disciples to have time to recharge and reflect. Jesus Himself often sought solitude in order to pray.
There is great value in taking time to rest.
I have three suggestions:
#1: Daily Quiet Time
Try to schedule at least 30 minutes in your day in which you turn off the phone and have quiet time. If you are uncomfortable with simple stillness, then sit quietly and pray. You might think 30 minutes is a long time to pray, but once you consider all those who need your prayers, thirty minutes just won’t be enough! Remember too, that in your prayers, you need not always fill the silence. Allow your mind to consider that in your praying you are coming before the throne of God. Visualize Him on His throne, bending over to hear your supplications. Tell our Heavenly Father of the events of the day and how they made you feel.
Before you balk at the “touchy-feeliness” of this suggestion, I recommend trying it. In communicating even the small things to God, our mind has an opportunity to process this information and put it to rest. A little reflection goes a long way!
If you get to the end of your prayer and find that you still have another 15-20 minutes, take that time to plan how you would like to spend the remainder of your day. It’s easy to be overwhelmed, but as a dear friend said to me only yesterday, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” In other words, just take it in sections; consider what needs doing, put it in order of importance and then do what you can do in the time allotted.
#2: Plan a Day of Rest
Try to plan at least one day a month in which you do not do any cooking (maybe just reheating), ignore those pressing projects around the house, unplug from technology, and just rest awhile. Play board games with your kids, sit and read a book, or simply go down to the lake or into the forest and enjoy the gentle sounds of nature.
Maybe your schedule is so tightly packed as to render this impossible. Try. You can try to use Sunday as a day of rest. Go to worship, fulfill any obligations you have there, then spend the remainder of the day resting. I’m not suggesting that Sunday is the sabbath day or anything of the kind. As I said above, we have seasons of busyness. However, we can be intentional about making time for peaceful rest.
And yes, parents of young children, it is possible to have time to rest. Your kids will sleep eventually… they do wear themselves out at some point! I speak as a parent of three children who, at one time, were all under the age of 4. You can get some rest. There is no harm in getting a babysitter from time to time to give you an hour to go grab a refreshing tea and sit in a quiet park to rest.
#3: Learn to say, “No.”
Say it out loud with me, “No.”
One more time… “No.”
Learn to stop living in the fear of missing out or letting someone down. It’s okay to turn down a social event or two in order to spend a little extra time with your kids, or just one friend, or even to simply rest. Even our best plans can quickly become crowded with surprise visits or sudden obligations. Learn to say, “no” from time to time.
“Be still, and know that I am God…”
~ Psalm 46.10, ESV