When is the last time you chose to rest, to be quiet and trust in God as He restores you? Rest is a gift, and I’m grateful for people like Cheri Fletcher who have read Sacred Rest and then taken the time to encourage me. She shares below about her journey to accepting the gift of rest. This line particularly stands out to me:
“Either He is exalted, or I am exhausted.” What a wonderful truth to embrace going into the Christmas season.
I don’t have time for that.
This was my first thought when my doctor told me I had Epstein-Barr Virus.
How could I have mono?
I did not have the classic symptoms, except for extreme fatigue.
My second thought: So, how quick is the cure?
Turns out, there is no cure, only treatment. Slow down, eliminate all peripheral obligations, and balance your rest.
Sounds lovely right? No. Not for this Martha.
For me, stewardship has always included a lot of peripheral obligations, like serving on committees, planning events and hosting people in my home.
Clearly, my expression of stewardship needed to change in this new season. For me to continue serving, I needed to restore.
Too Many Open Tabs?
My doctor explained that all my peripheral obligations were like open tabs in my brain. Think of it this way: “Slow computer? Open tabs might be to blame. The more tabs that you have open the more of your gadget’s RAM is being used. This can seriously slow down your computer.”
I had so many mental tabs open, I was running on low resources. All my activities were rewarding, fun, and fulfilling, but they took energy and I was not replacing that energy through rest.
This kept me in a constant state of anxiety. Now, not all anxiety is bad. You can feel eager anxiety when you are excited and anticipating something fun, like an upcoming trip to Disneyland or your birthday party. Anxiety is also your internal alarm, giving you a sense of danger, that something’s not right, like when it’s thirty minutes past curfew and your child still isn’t home.
While we are on this earth, we’re going to experience anxiety. But I’m discovering tools to help me handle both my good and my bad anxiety.
Learning to Let Go
My doctor told me that I needed to take things off my plate (which, incidentally, had grown to a platter). Choosing what to eliminate was hard. Telling people I needed to rest felt like a lame excuse to get out of obligations. Part of the stretching and growing process was the surrender, admitting to myself that I could no longer keep the pace I was used to.
When my doctor told me to balance my energy output with rest, I really had no idea what he meant. At first, I thought all I needed to do was take daily naps, but my doctor explained that I needed to look at the cognitive energy I put into constantly running through my mental to-do list. As I was working on a physical task, my brain was working on the next project I needed to complete
It was right in the middle of this diagnosis that I saw a review of Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith’s book, Sacred Rest, on Instagram. I was then blessed to watch her interview for Tuesday Teaching in the Hope*Writers community. This book and its message are just what the doctor ordered—pun intended.
Dr. Dalton-Smith’s information on the different kinds of rest is crucial to my now recovering and restoring soul. Combining scientific research with personal stories, spiritual insight, and practical next steps, Sacred Rest gives those of us who are weary permission to embrace no, set boundaries, and seek sanctuary without any guilt, shame, or fear.
Of special importance are “low yield activities.” I needed to limit or eliminate all activities that “failed to yield consistent positive gains” (page 52). My peripheral activities fell under this category. They drained my mental space and my restorative thoughts. For the one board I’ve stayed on, I scheduled a specific day and time that I give only to this project. I do not look at it, respond to emails, or work on it any other time. This allows my brain to block it off, eliminating the anxiety of unfinished work.
An Invitation to Rest
The Personal Rest Deficit Assessment Tool in this book revealed that I am highly deficient in Physical and Mental Rest and I believe that resulted in my weakened immune system.
God created us to rest. When He rested from creation it was not because He was tired. It was to stop, enjoy, and restore. It was a gift. In her blog post, “Rest: A Gift or Punishment,” blogger Niki Hardy says, “You are worthy of rest, not because you’ve earned it but because He did and we find our rest in Him.”
What does my rest in Him look like? God has been reminding me to BE STILL and KNOW in various ways, from music lyrics to Instagram memes to books like Sacred Rest.
If you’re asking, God, why am I so drained? Perhaps His answer for you is the same as the one He gave me: “You wouldn’t stop and let Me do the work.”
Or if you’re wondering, God why am having anxiety? He may be saying, “You don’t fully grasp that I’ve got this. You get worked up with fear of the unknown. Just know I am with you.”
“Be still and know.” This is God’s answer for my overwhelmed, immune deficient, anxiety-ridden self … and for you, too.
“You would rather struggle than rest. You would rather work under a sense of obligation than learn how to surrender to peace; You are afraid of rest.” – Dr. Dalton-Smith (Chapter 11 of Sacred Rest)
Be still physically? Yes.
Be still mentally? Yes.
Be still emotionally? Yes.
Be still spiritually? Yes.
Be still and find rest in “knowing that I am God.”
In Isaiah 30:15, God tells us: “You will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence.”
If you are feeling out of control, full of anxiety, and overwhelmed with the craziness of this earth, I hope you will accept God’s gift of rest. Find comfort in being held. Psalm 18:16 gives me peace as I picture the scene in my life. “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.”
Either He is exalted, or I am exhausted.
Now in this new season of life, as I accept the gift of rest and allow God to do the work through me, my body is restored, my faith is strengthened, and my heart finds comfort in knowing He is God.
About Cheri Fletcher: Youth and women’s ministry is the purpose I believe God has placed in my heart and the work He is equipping me to do. I mentor and disciple high school students at our church’s academy to be leaders in His work. I also minister to women that God places in my path and have spoken at a couple of women’s ministry events. Ephesians 2:10 is the base of my ministry. We are God’s masterpiece, intentionally created with a purpose and a plan. How we frame His handiwork matters. I live in the greater Seattle area with my Husband Todd. We have three grown children who are out chasing their dreams. I love to sing and running is the way I clear and renew my mind. Check out Cheri’s blog at CheriFletcher.com and connect with her on Facebook.