I am somewhat embarrassed to admit this here, but confession is good for the soul. This past weekend I failed to respect my capacity and the capacity of my family. What’s worse is that I recently reposted my blog, “Does It Bring Joy?” about learning to start joy, stay within your capacity, and sustain joy for the long-haul. Apparently, I forgot to ask myself the million-dollar question for what keeps joy levels high: “Does all this joy leave enough time for rest?”
Let’s be clear here—my family and I had a fun weekend. It was a fun PACKED weekend with both Chris and Andrew’s birthdays. The adventure started Thursday with my husband’s birthday, our sons’ Christmas concert, and 2 grandmothers driving up from Illinois to join the festivities. All of this happened Thursday, before the weekend even arrived. As a result, we had a combination of too many late nights, numerous parties (6 separate birthday celebrations in 4 days) and our family tradition of attending the Nutcracker ballet, all while hosting guests, which brought many smiles and much laughter. By Monday morning, we had one tired crew when the morning alarms blared to remind us it was time to get ready for school. Right away we had complaints flying around: “I’m tired!” and “We didn’t have any rest time over the weekend; it was too busy!” We pushed through multiple meltdowns as we tried to get out the door for school.
The next morning, we endured another morning filled with glorious meltdowns while once again trying to get everyone in the car to leave for school. I knew it was time to talk with Jesus because I lost my peace in all of this clamor. I sat down to journal. As I thought about the plans ahead of us for this coming week, I felt my overwhelm and exhaustion levels increase just thinking about the busyness ahead of us. “Lord!” I cried out. “I feel so tired, and my head is foggy right now.”
As I quieted myself and remembered moments in life where I enjoyed God’s comforting presence, I noticed a thought come to mind: “Rest first.” I felt some of God’s peace and closed my eyes and fell asleep for several minutes. When I woke up, I felt clearer in my head and more energized. As I continued to talk with Jesus, I felt reminded about the importance of rest.
This may sound strange, but too much joy without rest doesn’t feel joyful. God understands our need for rest even better than we do. In fact, Immanuel prioritizes rest for us. Not only is He not demanding of our time and attention, He is better at respecting our capacity than we are ourselves. Immanuel wasn’t asking me to simply “push through” my exhaustion; I felt His invitation to enter into His rest.
This is not the first time I have felt the invitation to stop in the middle of what I was doing in order to rest, but it is still a new experience for me! My tendency is to push through my weariness to complete what I am working on, so I can “rest afterwards.” However, as I have accepted His invitation to pause and rest in the midst of my project, I am discovering the deep joy and refreshment that pause brings. After a bit of rest, I can often return to what I was doing with renewed energy and enthusiasm. Rather than pushing through to just “Get it done!” I feel my capacity renewed and can then better enjoy my work.
Did you know the Hebrew day begins at sunset? I have heard Dr. Jim Wilder has say this timetable means that, according to God’s calendar for us, the very first thing we do together in each new day is to rest. This is a glimpse of how much God values rest.
In the midst of the holiday busyness, are you protecting time for rest? If you are packing your days with joyful moments (parties, shopping, family celebrations, Christmas programs, family traditions) but are not allowing yourself time to rest, this can quickly steal the joy from what would otherwise be sweet times of fellowship and celebration.
I encourage you to ask Jesus today, “Where do I need to make more time for rest this Christmas season?” Invite Immanuel to help you schedule your calendar, and then watch what happens.