A couple days ago we observed a holiday in which we celebrate rest. When we hear Labor Day, we think rest.
But in all honesty, how many of you truly rested during your Labor Day weekend? Don’t confuse that question with how many of you slept in. When I ask how many of you truly rested, I mean how many of you totally refueled and laid down the phone, walked away from the tv, and slowed down?
If you’re anything like me, it didn’t happen.
Don’t get me wrong, I tried! I tried really hard. But I found myself (more than once), picking up my phone and spending way too much time on social media. Or cleaning the kitchen because I just couldn’t sit still. Or vegging out on Netflix because nothing else seemed to satisfy. And the worst part? I found myself thinking about my huge to-do list that would come Tuesday morning; and every time I did, my stomach would turn to knots.
This is the culture we live in. We don’t know how to truly rest.
That feeling in my gut that reminds me of what’s to come, that feeling of nothing else satisfying my days, and the fact that I couldn’t sit still tell me that it has been far too long since I have truly rested.
Our culture is one big competition of who is the busiest. We brag to our friends when we are too busy to go do something relaxing. We take pride when we don’t get enough sleep because we have too much to do. We love to be busier than our neighbors.
And when we aren’t the busiest person in our circle, we feel like we need to add something else to our plate. We feel guilty when we aren’t running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
You can shake your head all day at me that this isn’t the way that you live, but if you’re really honest with yourself, you will see that I’m not making this up. This is how the large majority of Americans live our lives. I am SO guilty of every last one of these habits.
But what does all of this benefit?
Being busier than Sally who lives across the street does NOT make me more productive than her. It doesn’t mean I will achieve more. Busyness does not promise success.Busyness does not promise success. Click To Tweet
If anything, busyness promises burnout. Tiredness. Anxiety. Depression. Busyness tells us we’re not good enough and that we never will be.
If we look at the life of Jesus, we can see that Jesus was not busy. Yes, His schedule was full, but He took time to slow down. He knew how to rest.
"As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. "Master, don't you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand." The Master said, "Martha, dear Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it- it's the main course, and won't be taken from her." -Luke 10: 38-42 (MSG)
There have been thousands of sermons and books written on this passage. Stay around the Christian life long enough and you’ll be asked to decide if you’re more of a Mary or a Martha… but the truth is, we are ALL Martha.
I love that this version says, “…but Martha was pulled away by all she had to do…” Doesn’t that sound like your life? It sure does sound like mine! Instead of finding the real, beautiful rest that God promises us and loves to lavish on us, we are pulled away by homework. We are pulled away by Netflix. We are pulled away by social media. We are pulled away from real rest.
Eventually Martha starts bragging about how busy she is (in a indirect way) compared to her sister. Sounds familiar, right? Jesus responds to her in the exact way I know He responds to our busyness: “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing.”
God is saying that to us in the middle of our busy work/school week. When our stomach is in knots because we have a paper due at midnight we haven’t started, a test tomorrow, and a huge project due Monday. He doesn’t just want us to drop the ball on all those things, but He doesn’t want us to becomes so busy and stressed out that we can’t rest. That’s when He draws the line.
“Mariah, dear Mariah! You’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing!”
This is what He’s saying to you right now, in this moment. Replace your name where Martha’s was. He wants you to take one assignment at a time. He doesn’t want you to have this lingering anxiety in every moment. He wants you to rest.
How the heck do I rest when I feel so stressed?!?!
As I’ve been trying to find this balance in my own life, I’ve come up with a list of ways that have lowered the stress in my life and helped me to slow down. Am I living 100% stress free? Heck no! But I’m living 5% more stress free than before. It’s baby steps that get us to where we want to be.
1. Put down the phone. This one hurts. Especially if you’re a millennial like me who has grown up with an iphone longer than most. I’ve recently cleaned up my phone this week and deleted the non-essential apps that I would get stuck on. I’ve kept my social media apps for special occasions, but I have tucked them away in the back of app folders so that I have to work at getting to them instead of just automatically clicking them. I try to only get on maybe once day. All of the sudden, there are more hours put into a day! It’s hard, but it’s freeing.
2. Live in the moment. Instead of thinking about the 15 assignments I have to do this week, I concentrate on what I can do in the day that I’m in. I write out in a list what needs to be done and when they need to be done by at the beginning of the week. Then each day I pick what needs to be worked on first and what I physically can do on that day. Then I focus on those and forget the other assignments until it’s time to work on them. It’s a constant struggle, but it’s worth the commitment. I have to remind myself moment-by-moment to only think about today.
3. Slow down. This week I have been trying to find ways to slow down. These suggestions might sound absolutely miserable, but they’re teaching my soul to slow down. These include: driving the speed limit (I know, ouch), leaving early and taking the back roads, sitting down to eat with no phone, waking up earlier so that I don’t have to rush my morning routine, etc. Eventually my soul will catch on.