Tag Archives: Rest

Why being a Christian makes me tired

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” ~Jesus

If Jesus gives rest then why am I so tired?

Lately I have noticed an underlying, general message that Christians need to be doing better: Loving deeper. Serving more. Putting faith into action. Going where Jesus goes. The call for action doesn’t seem willy-nilly; there’s plenty of Scripture to back up the instruction. Not to mention, there is our messy, broken world filled with hurting people; the need for Jesus’ love is dire. Love is action and there isn’t enough. Since I am a Christian, I take this call to love better–be better seriously. If we need to be better, then I need to be better.

With a load of desire on my back to please the Lord, and a side pouch of guilt that I wasn’t doing enough in the first place, I seek out where the needs are and I go and I do the work. Trying to be better. Trying to learn more. Trying to love deeper. Trying to be more like Jesus. Not just out in the world with hurting people, but also in my personal life as a wife, mother, friend, sister, and daughter.

Consequently, I often have a very full calendar with things to do, people to visit, meetings to attend. If I see a bit of white space in the schedule, I fill it in because it seems wrong to have free time. Or more accurately, I could be using that free time to be serving… “doing better.” While I am “resting,” I could be emailing the girl at church who was struggling last week and offering some words of encouragement. Since I have the white space, I might as well volunteer to make that flier for the fundraiser. Since Thursday is a free night at my house, I could serve at the homeless shelter. Since that church event is happening in a couple of months, I could fill in all the white space with helping organize it… if if feels like too much, well, at least the commitment is only temporary.

Have you ever said, “Things will settle down when this, that or the other thing is over”? I have, too often. The problem is things never settle down because the white space returns and we fill it in again… overloading the schedule over and over again.

As I begin to wear out from being overwhelmed by the doing, I start hearing a conflicting message from my trusted Christian friends and leaders: “You are enough.” “All God wants is you.” “Be still and know that I am God.” “Take care of yourself.” “Just be.”

Well, now I am just confused. And tired.

I went to God with my confusion: If I am supposed to be doing better, loving more, being more like Jesus (of whom I will never be), then how am I possibly “enough”? I am tired, but I am called (and I desire) to go out and use the gifts you gave me to serve others.

He reminded me of THE most important lesson I learned in anorexia recovery: Ignore the voices in culture and listen only for His voice.  While the “be-better/do-more-for-God-and-here’s-how” messages are loud, very few encourage “listen for God to tell you what to do, where to serve, and how to love.”

There are things I want to do for God and things Christian culture expects me to do for God… none of which God has asked me to do for God. It’s when I engage in those things I assume I “should”  or “could” do because it makes sense in serving the Lord that I get completely overwhelmed. I want to discern between the call of God and the call of Christian culture. The only way to know where God is calling me is to spend time with Him in prayer and hear his voice.

He has given me work to do and the gifts and talents to do that work. The only things He’s called me to right now is to minister to my family and to serve in the mental health ministry as he instructs. Not to mention, to follow His lead each day with the encounters he orchestrates with other people. That’s it. And it’s plenty! And it’s good!

And guess what? When we say “we need to do better,” it devalues all that we have already done. God isn’t sitting on His throne with his arms crossed saying, “All the stuff you’ve done is fine, but you need to be doing better. Look at what you aren’t doing.” Nope. He’s holding us in his arms saying “I love you. Good job! Hey, let Me help make this work easier for you so you don’t get so tired, okay? In fact, I have something different for you to do.”

Being a Christian makes me tired when I am busy doing what I think I should in order to be better. Being with God gives me energy, direction, and rest in order to do the work He needs me to do. Never will He over load my plate and never will he tell me “It’s not enough. Do better.”

God's Presence is Undeniable

Nearly 5000 counted dead in Nepal. Massacre killings of Christians in Kenya. Orphaned and starving children in multiple countries. Riots in Baltimore.

My pain seems petty at best.

Lord, I don’t even know if I should bother trying to talk to you. Can you even see me in the midst of the dark around here? Forgive me for my selfishness in needing to cling to you right now. You have countless in crisis; I am not in crisis. I trust you have heard my prayers for the hurting, lost, broken, lonely, scared, and angry. I don’t trust that the prayers for myself matter, so I don’t pray them. I don’t really need anything. Just You. Your presence to reassure me that even though the world is falling apart You are not falling away from me.

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Leanne, go outside.

His invitation is undeniable. “Okay, but only for a minute. I am tired.”

I know.

Stepping outside, the view from the vista upon which my balcony sits is breathtaking.  The kind of breathtaking where I simultaneously suck in air yet spend air whispering, “Wow!”Viewfromthebalcony

“It’s beautiful, Lord.”

Take it in. Let go for a moment and enjoy this.

I lean my arms on the balcony railing, resting my chin on my hands. I breath in deeply and exhale, letting the tension deflate from my body.

“Lord, I am so tired. I could fall asleep here. The sun is warm on my skin. Thank you.”

Sit. Rest.

FeetonBalconyI pull up the chair behind me and sit. Settling in low, I raise my feet to the balcony railing and let my head fall back, resting it on the back of the chair.

Close your eyes.

The darkness behind my eyes blocks my sight and turns up my other senses. Afternoon sun blankets my face and soaks through my jeans.

“This is nice.”

What do you hear?

“I hear the river. It’s rushing… it sounds like white noise. White noise blocks out the world noise. I can hear You, Lord.”

What do you see?

My eyes focus on the black behind my eyelids. Only it isn’t black. “I see orange and yellow with moving sparks. Brightness from the sun absorbing the dark. My mind’s eye captures what sight cannot ever see. I see You.”

A slight breeze sends a chill over my skin. The brightness behind my eyes goes gray, evidence that clouds are moving in.

“Lord, I’m cold. I should go inside.”

Wait. Not yet.

Like turning up the dial on the thermostat, heat and light spread again upon my face and arms. My jeans are hot to the touch. My skin prickles in goosebumps, responding to the certainty that God just wrapped His arms around me. His presence in the warmth enveloping my body is undeniable.

“Thank you, Father.”

Open your eyes.

I open my eyes just as a blanket of gray washes out the sun and carries in a chilly breeze.

“Lord, it’s cold.”

Go inside. Sleep. It’s okay.

///

I don’t have to see God with my eyes to know He’s with me.

I don’t have to hear God’s voice with my ears to know He’s talking to me.

I don’t have to feel God’s fingers on my skin to know He’s touching me.

In a world that is falling apart and needs God more than ever, He’s here… with the dying, the lost, the broken, the angry. But also with you and with me. There is no pain or request that is too petty for God, no matter how much devastation the world is facing. You still matter in the midst of the world’s tragedies.

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15

Side note: I did go inside to sleep, and I woke an hour later to the biggest most beautiful hail storm I’ve ever experienced:

Hailstorm2 Hailstorm

Letting go of time– "Rest, dear one."

I wake up to the wind battering against my window. The ocean’s waves are loud and angry, yet still roll in rhythmic ebb and flow. Strange, though, I hadn’t heard the waves when I arrived yesterday. Yet now against the stormy symphony of rattling wind and pelting rain, the sea sounds like it’s right at my back door.

I check my phone. 4:17 a.m. My stomach twists in angst. Not a gluten reaction this time. No. This is definitely anxiety writhing in my gut. “Lord, I don’t have much time here. I have to leave tomorrow. We only have one day. Today.” I click on the light above my head and grab my Bible from the floor next to my bed. “Okay, what do you want me to  know? I need to feel your presence, Lord. To learn.”

I furiously turn the tissue-paper thin pages waiting for that burst of… of… something. “Lord, we don’t have much time. Please, I need to feel you.”

IMG_20140329_063109I lean back on my pillow with a uneasy sigh, close my eyes and flip through my mental to-do list for this weekend away by myself.

  • Write: my blog post, my flash-fiction story, my business article, my client’s manuscript report.
  • Read: my Bible, my favorite bloggers, my current favorite book (Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard), my new book (Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott)
  • Pray: for spiritual refill, for guidance on what I’m supposed to do next, for what I am supposed to be writing.

Resting my eyes feels good and for one tiny moment I let my brain stop and let the room’s silence fill in around me. Silent room, stormy weather. I listen and begin to feel peace embrace me like a tentative hug.

Go upstairs to the third floor library. Take your favorite book, your orange pen, and your notebook.

I don’t question the thought, but I do pray no one is in the library. I crave being alone. It isn’t even 5 a.m., so it isn’t shocking to see the library dark and empty. I click on a light. The storm is pounding even louder up here … the windows in this space face the ocean directly. I cozy up in one of the leather club chairs and cover myself with an afghan. I lean my head back and close my eyes again. I listen to the storm rage against the windows.

What do you hear?

I mentally compose a prosical piece about the stormy symphony, words pour in…

Grab your pen and paper. Write it down. 

And so I do:

IMG_20140329_074646“Stormy sea on a Saturday morning. Early to rise. Wind and rain batter my window. A beckon to arise. Heart uncertain of what to do. A yearning to be with my Lord. I can hear him through wind and waves and feel Him in my presence, yet a connection-collision of epiphany seems so far away. How can he be so close yet feel so far?

Stormy sea and rolling waves. Wind batters the raindrops against the window. I have no fear, a sign to stay indoors. Rest, says He. What do you want me to know? What do you want me to say? What do you want me to do?

Rest, says He.

Is it coincidence the flashy light of hotspot died–right after a prosical pour about prayer? God does not waste time with coincidence.

Listen to the sounds. You notice for a reason. The wind battering, the rain pelting, the sea roaring in ebb and flow. You could not hear it the day before. But at 4:17 a.m. it resounds through your quaint little room. Oscar Wilde; what a lovely space. Quaint and old and charming. The perfect size for one.

Come out to the living room and see what you hear.

Rest. Watch what I created. Stay safe in the warmth–thick blanket, cozy chair, hot coffee. Your favorite book–My words in you have spoken through visual literary excellence. An allegory just as I knew you’d learn.

Rest, dear daughter. Know you have done well. You have much to learn but it is a journey. You desire to please Me and work so hard. Dear child do not work so hard. Your desire and faith is all I need; your heart for Love is enough.

Look at the pink of dawn touching the waves. It is beautiful, yes? You have seen my beauty upon the water before and it mesmerizes you. You have captured its image on your fancy device yet look up, dear one! I have a vast of expanse to show you beyond the square in your hand.

Rest and enjoy.

I know it is hard. You feel you don’ t deserve. Daughter, I love you and made this for you. You don’t earn my gifts, dear one, they are yours freely. Take and enjoy.

You are tired. Please rest. In Me. I show you every day what is yours.

Do not worry about what is undone. In my time it will be complete. Other people’s expectations do not matter. Only what I have for you does.

Rest, dear one.

Tell me what you see.

“Layer of grey lays low, a hem of blue peeks from beneath. The ocean water IMG_20140330_094013moves swiftly. A reflection upon the glassy sand where the waves have smoothed it down. Everything moves. The grey is parting away showing a hole of peaceful blue and a tinge of pink where the coming suns shines through. All is in motion and the blue is gone. An albatross flies across my view, against the wind it soars. I wonder why he does not seek shelter out from the wind. I hear the rain pelting against the window; gusts push against the walls. It is all so loud yet I feel peace, Lord. There is beauty and peace within such a storm. Thank you for nature and its lessons, dear Father.'”

 

Rolling waves, frothy white. Grey shines against the sun--hides away the warmth and light my heart desires. Yet my soul knows and my eyes see the evidence of what lay above the grey. Clear skies and vibrant light live just a  layer away.

Rolling waves, frothy white; grey shines against the sun–hides away the warmth and light my heart desires. Yet my soul knows and my eyes see the evidence of what lay above the grey. Clear skies and vibrant light live just a layer away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (Exodus 33:14)

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11: 28-30)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-30)

Breaktime

"Rest and be thankful." William Wordsworth

“Rest and be thankful.” William Wordsworth

Today I am focused on rest. It seems somewhere along the line I learned I should fill every moment of the day. Every day. I scold myself when I find myself sitting doing nothing.

The other day, my husband was unloading the dishwasher for me. While he did, I cleared the table, put away the leftovers, and took out the recycling. When I was done, I was ready to load the dirty dishes. Only my husband wasn’t finished yet. So I stood there. But then I paced. And then I looked for something to put away. There was nothing. So I started helping unload the remaining dishes, but husband said, “It’s okay, hon. I got it.”

I didn’t know what to do with myself, and standing there doing nothing felt… wrong? Unproductive?

I have to be honest about something. The last several days have been hard… emotionally. I’ve received a lot of tragic news, I’ve experienced the (temporary) loss of a friend that I don’t fully understand, and this morning my son had an experience that has left me quite unsettled. At the same time, this week has held some really amazing encounters with God, outstanding progress on a current project, and some sweet moments with my family.

I feel emotional dissonance. Heart break juxtaposed with elation. So I do what I always do when I need to deal… I drink more coffee and allow myself to become so busy I don’t have to deal. 😉

This morning, though, I found myself sitting on my couch, mentally distracted yet not doing anything. Just sitting there. Why am I just sitting here? I asked myself.

Because I’m tired.  That’s why.

Hear me well when I say, I am doing great overall. But I need a break. It’s time to take rest. Take care of myself. Eat. Listen to some music. Color with my daughter. Lie on the couch with my son and listen to his stories. Eat. (I have to remind myself to eat. And eat well.)

So that is what I am doing today. Hitting the breaks for moment, catching my breath, and taking care of myself. And it’s okay. In fact, in my idleness I was led to listen to a song I want to share with you. It helped soothe the angst I was feeling from all the devastating news– it has rejuvenated my heart.

So I invite you to take a quality break today. We cannot be our best when we are tired. And if you are feeling emotional dissonance, I hope you find this song encouraging.