Friday, August 7

Mandatory Rest

Three weeks ago, Jeremy and I flew four thousand miles away from home for our first-ever week to ourselves in sixteen years of marriage.

It always feels wrong to board a plane and willingly leave the place your most beloved people are, but this time it was different.

For the first time since becoming a mom nearly fifteen years ago, I didn't shed a single tear in the days leading up to saying goodbye to our crew or even in the moment of actually parting and driving away toward the airport. And I didn't even feel bad about it.

Somewhere in the hustle and straight crazy that was this last year, I'd lost myself.

So when it was time to leave, all I could do was sigh, smile, and know that in no time at all, we'd back in the game of parenting eight children and I was so ready to be in that restful space that would only exist if we left.

If I was going to find myself again, it was going to be by getting on an airplane and going away for a time. God had provided the time away and we were confident He would fill us back up to overflowing with Himself while we were gone.

For the first two to three days, we couldn't even talk about the kids or the kind of parents we wanted to be when we got back. I joked about us having PTSD.

In many ways, it was no joke.

Rest had become mandatory if we were going to be productive at all anymore. If we were going to have the ability to have clarity and act with wisdom. Two things we wanted so badly.

In the months leading up to leaving, we were running on fumes. It wasn't pretty. We were desperate.

Maybe we waited too long to have this much time away by ourselves. Maybe we wouldn't have been quite so needy had we done it sooner. Now we know. We need respite like this more often.

Or maybe we need more smaller two to three-day breaks spread throughout the year.

The point isn't really how long or how often. The point is: people need rest.

What if we stopped putting off rest when we need it most? Before the breaking point hits and before desperation hangs so heavy you don't know how you'll go on.

Jesus regularly rested away from the push of people, even his closest companions, the disciples. What sticks out most to me though?

He never once apologized for it.

"I'm so sorry friends, but I'm fatigued and need a break. I should be able to do all of this. I should be more together. I'm sure I'm failing you somehow... but I must go. On second thought, maybe I'll stay around a bit longer because I'm so valuable to you." 


Never. We've never heard anything like that from Him.

Maybe He didn't even really need a rest. You know, because of the whole fully God part? But maybe He knew we would, and we wouldn't take it seriously unless He showed us how to do it well.

He was humble. Which meant he didn't think so low of the crowds and His disciples to think they couldn't survive without His company for a time.

On the other hand, He didn't think so highly of Himself that He had to stick around and save the world at every moment. (I had to. You know I did.)

We get so weird about rest. Is it really so bad if we get a little behind on the responsibilities that just don't matter in the grand scheme, if we'll be paralyzed with stress and unable to perform the duties that do if we overwork ourselves?

When we fail to take mandatory rests with loved ones or without, it leaves us unable to do anything well. Especially the stuff that matters.