If you have been around me for any amount of time, you may have learned about one of my favorite simple joys. And that simple joy is pajamas. By pajamas, I don’t mean athletic shirts and old Varsity Track and Field T-shirts, I mean soft, color coordinated, warm, and fuzzy pajamas. The kind you buy in a set or off the rack at Target. I have to admit, when I put on a pair of pajamas after a long day, I truly feel closer to God.
So, as a person who loves pajamas more than most people, you probably think that I have a pretty good idea of how to rest well. And you would be right if we were talking about the amount of sleep I get each week. But if you looked at my actual soul care, what I did to take care of the spiritual part of my body, you might be surprised.
In the church, people have become almost adverse to rest. Thinking that if we stop to rest, that means that we are missing out on opportunities to serve God. Or, maybe you are one of those people who simply can’t rest. Your brain is always going a hundred miles an hour, and you book your calendar up so full that you don’t have time to think about anything, let alone rest. Maybe you are a tired college or grad student who is working, studying, and trying to have a social life. Most likely, you are someone like me, a working young adult who doesn’t know how to balance their work life, social life, Christian life, and rest all in one seamless day.
I always find myself wishing there were more hours in the day, more time to read, to do work, to catch up with others, to watch another Netflix episode, and of course to sleep. But unfortunately, I think as young people we put off rest. We think that we’ll have time to rest when we complete this project, or get this degree, or get this number of friends. That rest is something people need to earn, not something that is actively given to us each week by God.
But friends, we can’t possibly try to fill up others or expect to be the best versions of ourselves if we are constantly running on empty. We can’t talk to someone accurately about the grace and peace of Jesus when we can’t remember the last time we dug into His word. We can’t fill up others when we only take breaks to fill ourselves up with social media. Rest isn’t just getting your recommended 8 hours of sleep a night, or if you’re me more like 9 or 10. Rest is also soul deep. And if we are not taking the time each week to rest our souls, we are going to find ourselves living in a world where we are frazzled, stressed, and tired to our very cores.
So today, if you feel like your life is an out of control mess of tasks, events, and little free time, this article is for you. We are talking about the things that keep us from truly resting our souls, and how we can start caring for ourselves better each week.
We Feel Guilty
Even though we have been saved by grace, we can sometimes act like we still have to earn our salvation. This can apply to “kingdom work,” but it can also apply to all areas of our lives.
For example, maybe you feel guilty about letting people down at work, so you constantly take on extra tasks. Maybe you feel afraid of letting people down, so everytime someone invites you to do something, you do it, even if it means you don’t get to rest. Maybe you look around at the Christians at your church who are doing so much more than you effortlessly and think that if you stopped to rest, people might think you are lazy.
Here’s the truth, God never made anyone in the Bible feel guilty about resting. In the Old Testament, when you could literally die for breaking the Sabbath, God always made way for His people to rest. He provided them with enough food and water so they wouldn’t have to gather it on the seventh day. Just like He can give us the ability to complete more tasks or get our workloads finished in six days, so we are able to rest on the seventh or just at points in the week. Truly allowing yourself time to soul rest means you are trusting God to help you get everything done, so you have time to rest.
Being a young adult is an absolutely crazy time in life. We normally spend our days working 8-9 hours, some of which involves us interacting only with people or staring at a screen, then we force ourselves to attend an exercise class, maybe we throw together a hurried meal, and end our night resting by falling asleep watching Netflix. We don’t give ourselves any room for our souls to breathe. Instead, we try to force our souls and our soul’s needs down to the very bottom of who we are. Thinking if we just quiet them for long enough, we won’t really need rest.
God gave us rest, not to make us feel guilty, but to make us feel grateful. So the next time you are getting ready to rest, stop thinking of it as a burden you have to bear, but as a gift, our gracious God has given us.
We Rest The Wrong Way
I truly think that we can all rest and feel refreshed from different things. However, there are a lot of things that our society deems as restful, that end up just burdening our souls even more.
For instance, think about how much time you’ve spent looking at social media in the past day, compared to reading a book or giving your eyes a much-needed break from the screen. Think of a time where you just ended your day unwinding before bed, not watching an episode of Netflix and waking up to a blue screen.
Though technology can be a great gift, it can also be a huge detriment to our rest. I have to admit I love Instagram. It is by far my favorite social media platform currently. But, I know that if I’m not careful, I can start to put my identity, worth, time, and pieces of my heart into a platform instead of allowing those parts of myself to be filled with God. I can rely on it to wake me up and start my day, instead of spending time with God. I can find myself getting anxious when I haven’t checked it in a while, instead of taking that time to read a book, listen to a great podcast, or just sit alone with my thoughts.
And maybe for you, you find a different social media platform hard to resist, or you watch so much Netflix that you don’t remember how to rest without a screen in front of you. I am not saying that these aren’t good things in moderation, but when used in replace of soul rest, our souls become burdened and swayed by the world. We become anxious and feel like we are missing out if we miss a photo, snapchat, or episode. And let’s face it, every day has enough stress of its own without us creating even more.
So, I encourage you to think of some other ways you can rest. Is there a hobby you love that you’ve been neglecting? Do you love to read but haven’t picked up a book in ages? When was the last time you spent time nature and not because you had to take your trash out or get in your car?
If you are having a tough time coming up with non-technology driven ways to rest, here are some life-giving activities you can do that don’t require looking at a screen:
- Take a walk or hike
- Talking to a friend or family member on the phone
- Writing a letter
- Making something with your hands
- Reading( fiction too!)
- Taking a bath
- Painting your nails
- Listening to music
- Playing an instrument
You get the idea. And that is not to say that you can’t indulge in some binge watching from time to time. But when we put our rest in earthly things, not only are we going to feel more broken, we are growing an idol. So take some time this week to just unplug, even if it’s just for 15 minutes.
The fear of missing out has only become more prevalent as our society has turned to technology. Now if you miss an event with friends, not only do you have to hear about it from them, but you also have to see the photos, videos, and captions you missed out on. Have you ever felt like you missed out on the perfect photo op? I know I have.
The truth is, when we start to fix our eyes more on eternity than what is temporal, we start to see how little those things matter. We realize that taking time to rest and spend more time with God is better for us in the long run than any Instagram post we missed out on creating.
What if we applied FOMO to our time spent resting with God? That we treated every time we missed reading our Bibles, praying, journaling, or giving our souls rest, with the same FOMO we feel when missing a night out with friends or a fall photo op. We might start to see what true FOMO is.
When we are overwhelmed and turn to worldly things to fill up our souls, it’s like ignoring the medicine a doctor prescribed to us when we were sick. When you feel sick, you take medicine, even if it’s just a tiny headache. So why is it that we reject taking medicine, or resting when it comes to soul care?
God has the solution for how to rest our weary souls, and it’s not found on a TV screen, on an Instagram video, or through essential oils, it’s Him. He is the solution and the medicine that our tired souls so desperately need. So to put it plainly, when we skip out on rest, we skip out on God’s best for us, on the medicine He has graciously given His soul tired people.
So stop being afraid to spend an introverted night in, to not sign up for yet another ministry need a church, and saying no to a friend because you just frankly need some time to be alone with your thoughts. You, yes you looking at this feeling exhausted to your very core, you need rest. Not the kind of rest that comes from a good night’s sleep, but the kind of rest that is only found in the presence of God.
Yes, I love to put on my pajamas when it’s the afternoon, and I have nothing going on at night, but that doesn’t mean my soul is feeling as comfy as my PJ pants. If we don’t take the time to self-care for our souls each week, we miss out on experiencing another part of God’s grace.
So, maybe you love wearing your pajamas, or drinking a cup of tea, or sniffing a particularly fragrant essential oil, whatever it is that brings you true rest, practice doing it this week. And then, practice it again. God doesn’t ask us to be perfect and structured in how we rest, but He does command us to trust Him. And when we start to give God more and more of our lives, we’ll see that taking the time to rest is His gift to us and a way to draw us closer to Him here on earth.
So what are you waiting for? Grab a book, a face mask, or an apron and get started resting. I know you’ll thank God and yourself for it.