The week of Easter in 2017, I worked a six-day, 92-hour week. I had inevitably forgotten to rest and more importantly rest with God.
Easter morning, I went upstairs to take a shower. When I woke up – or regained consciousness – I’m honestly not sure – I was on the floor of my bedroom and could not recall how I had gotten there.
The irony in the wording of Psalm 23 is not lost on me. “He MAKES me lie down.”
When I don’t rest by choice and by habit, God makes me rest. Or, my body gives out from the stress, and I collapse from exhaustion. I had completely forgotten to rest in God.
God Will Show You When To Rest
I was working a high-stress corporate job and had pushed myself to the end of what I could physically handle. I was desperate for a change in my life, so I was also working a non-aligned side hustle, and it was taking my free time and draining my energy. I wasn’t resting well at this point.
That experience was one of many wake-up calls in my health and my life. I knew that I couldn’t just keep on keeping on, telling myself to keep grinding, that the grind would eventually pay off and my life would change.
I knew that it doesn’t work that way.
You don’t work yourself to death so that you can rest.
You live rested so you can do good work aligned with God’s calling in your life.
Rest in God
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Rest Is Not For The Weak, It Is For The Warriors
Many high-performing, driven women know that rest is good for us and that we need it. And yet, if we do it at all, we have to consciously choose and commit to it.
Rest is a topic about which I am deeply passionate. While I am now a huge advocate for making rest a priority, I still struggle with it and have to make a conscious effort to rest well.
I have been a slave to two lies:
1 – my worth depends on what I achieve, and
2 – saying “yes” earns me the love, approval, and sense of belonging that I crave.
When I catch myself not being deliberate about rest, it usually is because I have fallen into patterns of behavior that I developed. After all, I believed those two lies.
Lie #1: Your worth depends on what you achieve.
My friend, from my experience and my heart: this is false. This is a lie that is supported by our culture that tells you that you have to always do more.
Rest begins with the belief that I lack nothing. God is the source of my provision and my peace. Rest in God. He provides me a place of safety and restoration, for His name’s sake, and my good.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8
When you perceive – whether consciously or subconsciously – that your value, your security, and your worth come from what you produce, what you achieve, or how hard you work, you’re not going to let yourself rest.
But the truth is, your value is not something that you have to earn.
Your Value Cannot Be Taken Away
It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2
My friend, stop your anxious toil. You are beloved. Your value is innate. Your value comes from being a child of God – created, fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), spiritually gifted, and unconditionally loved. Besides, even God rested!
This is not to say that you should stop working hard or being driven, but rather that you can choose motivation from positive outcomes instead of anxiety or insecurity.
When you truly know where your value comes from, when you know how loved you are, and when you know that your value comes not from what you do but from who you are – and whose you are – you will permit yourself to rest well.
Lie #2: Saying “yes” earns you the love, approval, and sense of belonging that you crave.
The essence of this lie is that love is transactional. Quid pro quo. This for that. Your obligation and energy for approval and belonging.
When you are doing too much for others, over-obligating, and saying “yes” when you want to say “no” to earn love, you’ll never rest.
37 Let your yes be YES. Let your no be NO. Anything more than this comes from the evil one. Matthew 5:37
The essence of this lie is fear.
Let God Put Your Fear To Rest.
Fear can drive us to fill our calendars with obligations that don’t fill our cups.
Fear of not being included, fear of not being approved of, fear of not being liked are all fears that lead us away from the rest-filled life God wants for us.
Saying “yes” when your heart is saying, “I’d rather not,” is the result of believing the lie that obligation earns you approval.
Rarely does our over-obligating earn us the love, approval, belonging, acceptance, or other positive outcomes that we thought it would.
And when all you do is pour out, the emptiness that comes from fear-driven approval-seeking turns into exhaustion, resentment, and anger, which only pull you away from God and God’s purpose for you. We need to trust and rest well with God, not stray away from the path.
God's Path Includes Resting Well
Time is zero-sum.
If your calendar is full because you lack boundaries, then you are likely chronically stressed. Because you are chronically stressed, your relationships are suffering. And because your relationships are suffering, you try to make up for it by over-obligating and saying “yes.”
This is the cycle that the lie perpetuates.
On top of which, your already-full calendar is likely not full of restorative activities, but rather activities that suck the life from you and are exhausting.
Likely, you are also sleep-deprived because you’re trying to do too much. And you are emotionally drained because you spend time doing things that you don’t want to be doing. This combination of sleep deprivation and stress is likely also causing your health to suffer.
A lack of boundaries, based on the assumption that you can earn a positive outcome, leads to a life that is not just too busy, over-obligated, chronically stressed, sleep-deprived, and health-challenged, but also to a life devoid of peace.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27
God calls us to live rested.
This Easter marks four years since my literal collapse from exhaustion. As I celebrate the death and resurrection of our Savior, I am focused on living rested.
Constantly doing more to prove that you are valuable, capable, and worthy of love is such a heavy burden.
Over-obligating to earn what God has already freely given you is such a heavy burden.
These are burdens I have struggled to put down, and I am deeply grateful to be so loved by my Father in Heaven, whose yoke is easy.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
My dear friend, stop believing the lies. Find rest for your soul.
You lack nothing.
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