As we head into Fall Break, I’m thinking of one of my favorite theological topics: rest.
Yes! Rest! It is one of the deep values of the Jewish and Christian traditions. God designed us to need rest. God commanded us to rest. And rest is radically counter-cultural.
But what is rest?
Whenever I come back to that question, I am reminded of a distinction that social work researcher Brené Brown makes:
True rest is recreation – re-creation. We are truly resting when the activities we’re doing help restore our energy and make us feel more alive. This could be as basic as sleeping or something more specific to you: playing an instrument, going for a walk, spending time with family or friends, or reading a novel after six weeks of science textbooks.
Contrast this with activities we do in order to take the edge off our pain (especially our emotional pain). The most obvious ways we numb are with substances like alcohol. But since Dr. Brown turned me on to this idea, I’ve realized that there are a lot of things that I do to numb: playing video games, binge-watching a show, and even over-working.
Note: those things aren’t automatically numbing activities. I’ve legitimately had a therapist assign me to watching a movie every day, because getting absorbed in a story was a great way for me to get my mind to turn away from the stress and anxiety I was going through. Activities are numbing because of why we do them and how we feel afterward. We numb in order to avoid dealing with our feelings or other life issues. We come out of numbing activities feeling not re-created, but…well, pretty much the same as we did right before we watched six straight hours of Squid Game.
You know you’ve been truly resting when you come out of the activity feeling different than you did before. Rest builds us back up. Rest returns us to who we are. Rest makes us ready for what comes next.
Before this break even begins, consider taking just five minutes to think about the things you do to numb – and the things you do to truly rest. Make a list of the things that re-create you. Then, make sure you’re making time for some real, restoring rest over the next few days.
God said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14).
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out from their distress;
He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad because they had quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wonderful works to humankind.
O God, you rested the seventh day and are still at work; in the course of this busy life give us times of refreshment and peace; and grant that we may so use our leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds, that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation. Through Christ our Lord, Amen. (From A New Zealand Prayer Book)
Oct. 13, 2021
- Katherine Museus Dabay
- Another kind of darkness
- A call to courage for 2021
- A Time of Dust
- Acquiring a peaceful spirit
- Anastasis: the Greatest Story of God’s Saving Power
- Beacons of hope
- Fear of the Lord
- Getting through this together
- God is not overwhelmed
- Grief & Graduation
- How do you keep from giving up hope?
- Jesus among us
- Praying for Reconciliation
- Rest is Holy
- Surprisingly Simple: Breathe!
- When God uses something terrible for good
- When heaven & earth click
- When stress overwhelms
- When we are moved
- WWJD? We already know