I grew up with a hard-driving military father. We had jobs to do in the house, yard, garden, or apple orchard. Five children meant there was always plenty of work to do. My dad liked sports and outdoor activities, so we often woke up early to go hiking or skiing or play tennis. The only time we could lay around on the couch or watch TV was if we were sick – really sick.
It is no wonder that I continue to work hard today and have often felt guilty about rest. I’m not busy with yard work or gardening or housework these days, but I enjoy my job, and I like to stay active. I don’t particularly like to sleep, and I rarely watch any television… but I am learning how to rest.
Rest is not just sleep or no physical activity, although it certainly can involve that. Dictionaries say that rest includes relaxation, refreshment, and recovering strength. One definition includes a peace of mind or spirit and to be free from anxiety or disturbance. Another definition mentions a period or interval of repose, solitude, or tranquillity.
No matter how much we love what we do, or how much work we think we have to do, rest is powerful… and necessary. I read a good post by Michael Hyatt this week about rest, and it helped me reflect on some good reasons for rest:
Rest builds physical strength. Athletes and trainers know that after a challenging workout, the body needs rest to recover, prevent injuries and increase endurance. Sleep, stretching, hydration and nutrition are all important. As I get older, I recognize this more and more.
Rest deepens relationships. Relaxing times with family and friends give me time for full engagement and quality interaction. Play, long conversations, stories, and laughter help me feel refreshed and provide me with healthy connections and community. When I am well rested, I have more to offer others.
Rest invigorates the mind. If I go too long without rest for my mind, my brain feels like scrambled eggs, and I struggle to sort out my thoughts and feelings. When I get away from the daily “to-do” list and anxieties to daydream and let my mind wander, I find that I can think clearly about the less urgent but very important issues like future plans, past reflections, and creativity.
Rest rejuvenates the soul. According to the Bible, even God rested! 🙂 To “let go” of my responsibilities for a bit reminds me of the truth that I am not all-important. Time to breathe deeply, pray, and listen calmly encourages me to find right perspective and contentment.
Rest is often used as a noun for a support, like an arm rest or a chin rest. This reminds me that I often need other people to help me rest. I am so grateful for those in my life who rest well, and they encourage me to rest also.
Well, now that I have this post finished, I am off to rest while watching a World Cup game!
Do you struggle with taking time to rest? Or are you someone who helps other people get away to relax? What are some of your favorite ways to rest well?
You might also like to read: a rhythm of rest