While laziness is not an attribute we should embrace, there is, of course, a big need for rest in our lives. This comes into play both physically and inwardly.
For both our physical and spiritual replenishment, God has given us the sabbath, a Biblical concept that many live out differently. While I am not an expert, I do think we should try and take a day off a week, as God Himself did, and use that time to seek the Lord and do what brings us energy rather than what depletes it. At the moment I can take Sundays off, but I did used to work over the weekend and tried to give myself the Monday or Tuesday as a sabbath day instead. It was more difficult to do so when those around me were working, but it was still beneficial even without attending church.
What you class as work may also differ from someone else. As I am unemployed, I consider my work to consist of uni work, housework, and even some of my writing, though it is unpaid. I consider this blog to be work, and my newsletter, and try to write them during the week rather than on the sabbath, but if I’m writing poetry or fiction I consider that to be an energising, creative pastime. Of course, if I am to get another job, the way I categorise these things would change, and how I spend my time would change. But it has been helpful for me to keep the sabbath free of all types of tasks during the lockdowns and my season of unemployment, bringing structure and rhythm to my week even if it is not typical “work”.
My current circumstances also differ to that of a parent! If you have young children, it may feel like there is always something else you need to do, another job to complete, and you’d probably be right! I feel similarly as a university student; there is always extra reading, more studying, and editing of essays that could be done. To counter this, I make it a general rule not to do any uni work after 5pm, treating it like a job. This means I am allowing myself rest in the evenings and not blurring the lines between work and rest (anyone else who has written an essay while lying in bed will know this feeling!). I cannot, however, give this same advice to parents, because of course your children will need care in the evenings, and of course the house may be in a state of disarray after the day they’ve had. Rest, and work, while universal, are defined differently depending on your circumstances, and what works for me may not be applicable for your situation.
Despite this, I think it is important to pray and find some way of receiving physical and spiritual rest amidst the rush of our daily lives, and not to let work become all we are.
As well as resting in a physical sense, we can feel at rest within ourselves.
I have had times in my life when I have strived. I have felt the pressure to be perfect, to aim for unrealistic expectations in the hopes of being good enough, and doing enough, for God and for those around me. But that lack of security in who He says I am took away my peace and left me with an unrestful spirit. I wasn’t secure in my relationship with Him and couldn’t sit comfortably in myself because I was constantly trying to prove – to myself and to Him – that I was worthy of being His.
Authentic femininity invites others in. It lets them rest and showcases the heart of God. If I don’t have peace in God and in myself, how can I invite others to do the same?
Have you ever been around a woman who is not comfortable in herself, who seems to be constantly inwardly striving? While you may not be able to point to the specific reason, you can sense the underlying tension and it may even bring out your own insecurities or unease.
I don’t say this to shame anybody; it is a very real struggle, and I’ve been there! But just because we have experienced it, and may experience it again, does not mean it has to be our constant state.
God loves us, accepts us, and has chosen us. This is the ultimate security! This is the ultimate affirmation! If I don’t need to earn his love or salvation, then I can relax. While as Christians we have responsibilities to repent and share His truth, God does not ask for or expect perfection. Doesn’t this take the pressure off?
Knowing this, and realising that God’s acceptance of me means far more than how other people perceive me, brought me a restful spirit. His truth, His love, brought peace to my heart. I used to constantly worry about being “good enough”; this constant state of anxious, tense striving would not have been restful for others around me! Checking for their approval, trying to make decisions based on pleasing them, comparing myself to them; what an exhausting way to live!
Of course, it is something I need to surrender more than once. It is something I can pick up again, especially on days that I have not spent time listening to God and understanding His words. But the more I surrender, repent, and spend time with Him, the deeper that peace settles.
Being at rest within myself has also, I pray, strengthened me for this time. The state of the world is not what you would call normal, nor do I think things will go back to normal. But having the peace that can only come from God can ground us when lies are all around us and when others oppose us. There is much in this time that has the potential to scare us, shake us, or sway us, but we have assurance! We have security! Praise Jesus.