Find Rest in the Ruckus

“Yet I know, in quiet pockets where my soul craved recharge and peace that rest was exactly what I needed. But how? How does one truly rest in the midst of life all around?” Choosing Real by Bekah Jane Pogue.

It is a beautiful autumn morning. The sun is bright and bringing some warmth to the yet chilly air. I was up early beginning my new morning routine, and then outside digging up kale and parsley plants for pots to keep over winter, mostly to keep my bunnies happy. I had my morning coffee and toast, packed my husband’s lunch, did pet care, and now drove to the lakeshore. It is breezy and the waves are splashing hard against the rocks. I stopped at a local coffee shop for an Americano for this little mini-vacation in my day. So, here I sit in my car, windows open, listening to honking geese and crashing waves, breathing deeply the fresh air, and sipping coffee. Taking time to relax knowing the to do list is waiting for me, this is something new.

Summer flew past with much, too much, busyness and very little recharge or peace. The past few weeks the tight muscles in my neck and shoulders have been crying for reprieve from life’s stress. Every day has been the same, an endless to do list, impossible to finish in the hours allotted. Tension and frustration boiling over because I never get done. It was in the midst of all this that I remembered what I read in Present Over Perfect “Barns burned down, now I can see the moon.”  To me this is about clarity, it made me see that I was too bogged down in too much to do. Time to burn some barns. In another of Niequist’ books, Bittersweet, she shares how her friend told her to choose what she wanted to do and then decide what she was willing to let go of. I had to ask myself, “what am I willing to say ‘no’ to?”

So I took out slip of paper and made a list of my absolutes and there with the paper in hand I decided I needed to make some changes. I sorted things out, rather than trying to do everything, I began dividing the tasks listed into days. I also made routines for morning, afternoon, and evening to fit in time for journaling, reading, self-care, and exercise.

I began experimenting and really enjoying all of the changes. I have three main areas of tasks for each day, my to do list is narrowed down and my routines are allowing me time to do things I enjoy. I am not pushing through my days at breakneck speed but instead I am finding more quiet pockets to recharge and to know peace in. The pockets are there because I am being intentional about planning them in.

I know I have tried slowing down often before and I always get caught up in the rat race, but I feel like there is something very different about this time. It feels like it will stick. I am feeling so much more joy and peace.

My response to inquiries or comments have been sharp and defensive, but now the edges are softening because I am not in a constant state of overwhelm.

As I sit here at the lake, there is a flock of geese nearby, some of them are feasting on what they can find in the grass across the road. When they get their fill they fly overhead honking and flapping. They land in the water facing south and although they are probably paddling hard beneath the water, they are being moved north by the wind in the waves. I have been kind of like those geese trying to get things done but seemingly not getting anywhere with accomplishing it all. I felt pushed back by the wind and waves of busyness and too exhausted to keep paddling. The geese don’t seem to mind floating backwards, they are content to go with the flow. I want to move through my days with intention, yet knowing rest.

Finding rest doesn’t just happen. I am finding in the process of being intentional that there are quiet moments to listen to the Lord, to pray, and to draw near. These moments happen between the to do’s. I am choosing to stop pushing through. That is a big change for me, and it is a big challenge for me. It is difficult to allow myself that freedom, but I am learning to give myself permission.

I am also learning to be more consistent about praying for myself, telling the Lord the needs of my heart. I am taking time to rest with Him in the midst of my routine, and between my to do’s I am growing more aware of His presence. What a wonderful experience!

Pogue says, “To rest means to be filled up by the One who enjoys us right in the middle of the rush. Authentic rest emulates our Father, it’s turning my mind and heart to settle into a cozy rhythm that models Him…”

Pogue goes on to share how easy it is to neglect taking time to enjoy today, neglecting “to be present to the tiny moments and memories taking up who and what texture are now.”

There have been too many days that I have neglected to take time to enjoy the day. I have been oblivious to so much because of being over-focused on what I feel I need to do or want to accomplish. I am seeking to find that “cozy rhythm” in my life and find rest in the ruckus of life.

How about you? How are you being intentional about rest?

 

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Finding Quiet and Learning to Play

Quiet…

Stillness…

Peace…

Rest…

Breathe.

Such beautiful words to our busy striving hearts. We can read through this list, but when do you experience these in your life? We often are not able to find time to rest until we finally flop into bed exhausted at the end of the day.

I’m a type A personality and I like to keep busy. I have a never-ending list of things I feel I should do and an even longer list of things I want to do. I have stressed myself out with my lists of what I want to accomplish to the point of raising my blood pressure and getting hives. The ridiculous thing about this is that none of the things on my lists of to-dos are of earth-shattering in importance. The world will not come to an end if I do not get them completed. When you’re constant striving begins to affect your health, you start to take it a little more seriously. You begin to make some changes. That is what it took for Shauna Niequist also. She describes in her book, Present over Perfect, how the pressure she was under affected her physically and how she kept going for quite a while at the same pace ignoring the symptoms in her body. She kept going until she couldn’t anymore.

Her realization that something needed to change led her to find out what was pushing her to keep going. She found her deeper need to know God’s love for her as she searched her heart. She began to learn about God’s love in ways she previously had not understood bringing her to realize she could stop striving. 

When we take to heart the reality of God’s love for us and His presence with us:

  • We realize that in Him we have what we need and then we really can slow down.
  • We learn to take time to talk with Him and learn more about what really matters to Him.
  • We begin to choose to do what matters to Him.
  • He gives us the soul-satisfaction that we search for.

I’ll be honest, I struggle with feeling the need to strive, I wrestle with seeking approval. And I search for ways to get love by doing. But I am improving. I am learning to choose moment’s of rest, explore ways to enjoy quiet, and find places in my days to breathe deeply. I am learning more and more about God’s love for me. It is something that we as believers should never stop learning about.

What about you? How do you find quiet?

Some of my favorite ways are

  • going for a walk
  • sitting on a beach early in the morning
  • whispering a prayer to the Lord
  • cutting vegetables for homemade soup
  • listening to baroque music
  • writing in my journal
  • watching creatures play in nature

None of these take a lot of time, yet each one quiets my heart and nurtures my soul.

Beyond finding quiet, Shauna Niequist also talks about learning to play. Some may think it sounds silly. And when we weigh the possibility against all we have to do it may seem impossible. But it is so important to our health and happiness. The Lord gave us so much on the beautiful earth to enjoy.

Growing into adulthood often squelches out the playfulness of our hearts. We take on responsibilities, jobs, family, expenses, and we can lose our whimsical spirits. When you take time to watch young children enjoy a game, giggle while splashing in a pool, or jumping up and down on a trampoline, you see the positive effect of play. Play can bring delight to our hearts and as we play together we show love and attention in ways we miss in our busyness.

We can say we are too tired or that we don’t have time for quiet and play, but I think that when we take time to do something relaxing and fun it nourishes us in unexplainable ways, We may be energized by taking time for either one of these. I believe that we may even find ourselves able to do a better job at the tasks that fill our to-do lists. Also, we may find that our spirits are lifted in gifting ourselves with a little stillness or a few moments of time to play.

It seems to me that if Jesus were walking the earth today, we may find Him playing with a group of children in a neighborhood backyard or going fishing and catching a nap under the shade of a tree. It could be that we would see Him sitting on a beach sipping lemonade or possibly enjoying a picnic at a park. Jesus took the time to enjoy people around Him and He took time to get away alone, especially to refresh His soul with His Father.

So, how will you find quiet today? How will you engage in play? Will you honor the Giver-of-Life by choosing something life-giving? If this seems too hard because of the structure of your life right now, talk to the Lord and ask Him to show you where you can have a space for quiet and play. He cares about you as His created child and He will show you out of His love for you.