In a previous article we talked about rest, and how important it is that we understand where true and real rest come from. If you haven’t read that article, check it out HERE. It will be helpful in understanding the foundation of this article.
I’m a fan of the practical. I don’t know about you, but I need someone to tell me more than just the principal at hand, but how to execute it. My husband is a worship leader, but he’s also a phenomenal preacher. Often times, when he is preparing a sermon, he previews it for me. And for those of you who have heard him speak, you should know that he gets just about as worked up at home, telling me about his sermon as he does actually preaching it! He’s also humble enough to ask my opinion after, ask if there’s anything that seems missing. If I ever do have a critique, it’s about the practical. I remember asking him one time “What do I do with this after church while I’m cooking lunch?”.
So what are those practical, day-to-day things that we can do to find the rest that we are designed for?
I’m going to start with an obvious one. Sleep. Our bodies were designed for sleep. It’s essential to your physical and mental health. Over the past year or so, I’ve picked up a workout routine, and have done some reading on the most efficient methods to working out. One thing that shows up in all my reading is sleep. Your body needs time to recover and mend from the day, especially if you’re active.
Your brain is an organ in your body that needs that recovery time as well. Maybe you need to re-evaluate your night time routine. Turn off your TV and phone earlier, or do something to signal to your body that it’s time for bed. Whatever you need to do, prioritize your sleep.
Eat well and exercise. I’m not suggesting that you start Whole 30 tomorrow or anything, but making good choices in your food and activity can go a long way in making your rest more effective. I can speak from personal experience here. Changing my eating and exercise habits go hand-in-hand with changing my mental habits. They feed each other…in a good way! Choose to eat some veggies and go on a little walk after dinner. Small steps make a big difference.
Know how your mind and body need to rest. This is different for everyone! I crave quiet. When I’m in the house by myself, I turn off the TV and music and just listen to the quiet. (Except when I cook…90’s pop/grunge music is my jam then!) When I run or exercise, I don’t listen to music because it crowds my brain. My husband is the opposite. When he’s in the house, a TV is always on. Quiet stresses him out. He finds rest by driving and window shopping. Both are perfectly good means of rest, but don’t try to force rest that doesn’t fit.
A couple of weeks ago, my hubby was gracious enough to let me have a personal retreat type weekend. I booked a B&B for two nights, just me. I was able to write, think, pray, and just get some planning done. I highly recommend this. The whole time I was there, I thought “I should bring B back here and share this with him.” But then I realized he would hate it. Sitting in someone else’s house, in the quiet, for a weekend is not his idea of rest and relaxation. It was mine. Be self aware enough to know what benefits you the best.
Include Jesus in your rest. This was the thrust of my last article, but I want to look at it more practically. Make sure that on a daily basis, you take time to pause and tune out the world and focus on Jesus. The more you make this a habit, the more time spent with Jesus will feel more like rest and less like a chore. If you’re looking for some practical ways to do this, I’d reference this article, where I’ve listed some ways to get started.
Purposefully leave boxes unchecked. This is something I’ve had to learn as someone who struggles with perfectionism. If you struggle with laziness, don’t hear me recommending this on the regular. The Bible has a lot to say about not being lazy. Again, be self aware enough to know if this applies to you or not.
I’m a box-checker. I wake up with a list of things that need to get done for the day, and the success or failure of my day depends on those boxes being checked. This mentality has its perks. I’m pretty efficient and do a pretty good job of keeping up with my family, things at church, a workout routine, and a 40+ hour work week. But the downside is that I can let the boxes define how successful I am. My success rises and falls with me, which is not healthy. So to keep things in perspective, I occasionally choose to do something menial instead of doing something productive.
Not too long ago, I had a four hour window of time to myself. I cleaned the house and mopped the floors, stuff that’s easier to do when no one is home. I still had a few hours left and thought “I could write, clean the bill basket out, take that stuff down to the basement, check the laundry, pick up the garage…”. I had a list of possible ways to efficiently use my remaining two hours. And I fought the urge to knock all of those things out in that time frame. I am super-woman, right?
But guess what I did instead. I watched Netflix for the remaining two hours. And it was glorious. I also ate half a box of Cheez-Its, which was glorious too. This is not my norm. I’m just not wired to sit still and do nothing for that long. It’s a struggle. But it’s good for me to push myself to leave things undone and know that it’s OK. I need to teach my brain that my rest is sometimes more important than the ever-running list of things in my head.
Lastly, schedule it. In our crazy world, rest isn’t going to naturally occur. As you look at your calendar, leave a night a week empty on purpose. Leave the occasional Saturday free from plans intentionally.
The Bible mandates the Sabbath as a day of rest. We are wired for a weekly break. Our girls love to run and go and do things, but when Sunday afternoon rolls around, they love nothing more than having no schedule. They take a nap, watch TV with Dad, work on some crafts. We literally don’t do anything. The devil knows he can wear us down with busyness, and he’ll keep us distracted with life in a heartbeat. So let’s be proactive in prioritizing rest in our lives, even if it means physically putting in our calendars.
Hopefully this helps you practically find rest in your life today!
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)