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The Exhausted Christian

As I have talked about rest these past weeks, I’ve hesitated to ask you to do anything to practice resting. I hesitate because I know you will likely see it as something else you have to do. I know because that is exactly what my reaction would be when I’m already exhausted.

But the hard truth is that we have to do something to get to a place of true rest. However, I thought it would be helpful (and it helped me a lot) to give you a few questions to think about. It may help clarify why you react the way you do when someone asks you to do one more thing.

Do you think of God as an authority to whom you are accountable, from whom you seek affirmation and acceptance by your good behavior?

Or is it the other way around?

Does God accept you in Christ, affirm you as His child, and ask you to be accountable to His authority on that basis?

If the person identifies most strongly with the first pattern, it means they have a behavior-focused view of Christianity.(1)

Are we working ourselves to death to earn approval from God? Are we constantly trying to please other people? Have you ever actually felt “good enough” as a result of trying to please other people?

This really hit me hard. Who am I working to please and why? Always striving, always exhausted. This is not God’s plan for our lives.

What if we remembered that God is already pleased with us because of Jesus? What if we applied some grace here and realized that pleasing God is not something we can do on our own or ever earn by striving. We are already loved and accepted, just as we are, before we do anything. And when we do anything for God (or other people), it should be from a place of wanting to do it out of our deep love for God and others, not to gain approval or earn acceptance. This truth is a breath of fresh air for me. I need to remind myself of it often. And it helps me not get overwhelmed when I am practicing rest. It isn’t just another thing to check off of my to do list; rest is so important, it’s biblical, and it’s live-giving.

I’m hoping what I wrote above will keep you from closing this window, shutting down, and not continuing to do what I’m going to ask you to do because you feel overwhelmed by yet another request…

Here are some questions to think about: What practices of rest can I start doing on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis?

Can I write them down, tuck them in my Bible, pray about them, and ask God for the strength and grace to start practicing them? What small step could I take today? Which ones does He want me to do? I believe He has an opinion.

Tammy’s example plan for rhythms or rest:

Daily:
This is the hardest one for me because I have five children, and a three-year-old that doesn’t think he needs to sleep like a normal human being. Cole gets up in the middle of the night and pats me sweetly on the arm and says, “Mommy, will you come and sit by my bed with me for a little while?” I want to scream and throw things, but that would be wrong. Then he gets up for the day between 6:30 and 7:00 in the morning, right as I’m trying to get my older kids on the bus. It’s exhausting…and I’m supposed to have quiet time with God in the morning before all of this, right? I also am struggling with insomnia anyway, so you get the picture. What I do, when I am able, is I get up 20 minutes early and I work on my Bible reading plan. I have a journal I write random thoughts in if I want, and I copy Scripture that encourages me onto note cards as I’m reading. No, it doesn’t always happen, and that’s okay! I believe God is okay with that. And just like exercise (and better than exercise), I promise you will never say when you’re done, “Man, I regret doing that.”

Another option (small step) is just taking any 10 minutes during the day and just being alone and quiet (easier said than done at my house and often done hiding in my bathroom).

Weekly:
A weekly Sabbath. My Sunday is not exactly restful because I have to get so many people ready for church, but I am trying to pick a day (or two parts of a day, whatever works) to actually rest. Rest means doing things that are worshipful and pleasurable, not exhausting and draining. Examples for me would be taking a nap, reading a good book, taking a walk outside, playing with my kids, spending time talking with my husband, worship music, eating some enjoyable food, a hot bath. (small step: start by scheduling 1 hour of true Sabbath rest instead of a whole day).

Monthly:
Finding one day of solitude, unplugged from this crazy world (aka unplugged from media). I try to go to a coffee shop, do some writing, reading, meet with my mentor or a close friend for a little bit. But most of the day I’m alone with God, with a quieted heart. Just a note; if you do not put it on your calendar, you won’t do it. Schedule it just like you would a doctor’s appointment. Have a spouse or a friend hold you accountable to it. What child-care arrangements or otherwise do you need to set up to make it happen? (Small step: schedule a 1 hour coffee date with God)

Quarterly:
A long weekend away with myself or my spouse or a close friend, with a focus on quietness and connection with God. Michael and I just scheduled our first weekend away (where our sole purpose is rest and quietness) for April of this year. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, is there somewhere you can go that doesn’t cost (a friend’s house, a retreat center, someone’s lake cottage, ask your parent’s for an early birthday present, etc.)? (Small step: 1/2 day away while your parents or a good friend watches the kids)

Yearly:
A vacation with your family or close friend that is extended, more than a weekend. I don’t know how this looks for my family yet. My kids are young, so vacations are not restful for Michael and I - they are a lot of work. My thoughts are a long weekend with the kids somewhere low key, and then a long weekend with just Michael and I. I’m still praying about this one. Also, this is a good place to schedule some kind of training once a year - something that will encourage you and help you grow spiritually. I just signed up to get my certificate with Deeper Walk International, which I’m really excited about.

What do you think about this? Will you pray about it and begin to develop a personal plan for rest for yourself? It is so important to your wellbeing. If you are not resting and connecting with God, how will you have the strength to carry out or even know the plan God has for you to carry out?

I will be praying for you and your rest,

Tammy


Source:
(1) - Toward A Deeper Walk by Marcus Warner. Published by Deeper Walk International, 2007-revised in 2012. pg. 15.

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If you are an imperfect wife, mom, daughter, or friend, struggling to stay focused on God in the craziness and find joy in the heartache, then we have something in common. I am a recovering perfectionist and daughter of the King, slowly learning to fully trust the One who sees me just as I am, and is already pleased. I’m so glad you are here.

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