Updated: May 16, 2020
I've been teaching myself something over the last week or two: the skill of rest.
Yes, resting is a skill. One I've become very bad at lately.
It surprised me, actually, that I'd nearly forgotten how to do it. That I'd nearly forgotten how important and enjoyable it is.
Since I first learned how to string letters together to form words and sentences I've been a reader. It was rare to find me without a book in my hand, even as an energy-filled child. I think that the adventures I read about only served to spur my imaginative play.
If I didn't have a book, it was a pencil and pad of paper. If I wasn't reading or acting out what I'd read I was creating my own tales. My love of storytelling eventually led me to my college degree, my first "real" job after graduation, and starting this blog.
Yet, somehow, in all of the excitement I managed to lose sight of the love and passion for story that I had as a child.
It became a chore, no longer something enjoyed.
And when the thing that once brought rest and joy became just another item on a long list of duties and responsibilities, I had to stop and think.
That chore felt much harder to complete with the driving force behind it completing it gone. Something that was once energizing now became more draining and more challenging than any other task on the list. The fun had been taken out of it.
I usually keep track of the books I read throughout the year on the Goodreads website (view my author bio here: https://www.goodreads.com/lindseykorthal).
In 2018 I set a goal to read 18 books in a year and I ended up reading 20. Thinking it would be fun to continue the pattern, I set a goal of 19 books for 2019. I only read 13 books total last year, 2 of them being comic books, and almost all of them having been read during the first half of the year.
As I recover from a very hectic month filled with many good things -- Christmas and celebrations of Christ's birth, time with family and friends, wrapping up loose ends at my job of 3 years, working toward our future adventures -- I realize that God has placed me right now in a time of relearning how to rest.
As strange as it sounds, resting isn't easy.
I've learned some things about myself through this time:
I'm not a lazy person. Perhaps this sounds strange to you, but for a long time I truly thought of myself as lazy. Maybe because the things that brought me joy, that I loved doing so much, were generally restful things, physically. I've always been a homebody, and I've always enjoyed the calm and quiet and a warm mug in my hands. I'm realizing now the difference between laziness and rest; one brings chaos, carelessness, and stagnation while the other brings peace, healing, and the strength to keep pressing on.
I still have a passion for the things I once loved. By creating time to rest in my schedule, I have given myself permission to do some things just for me. I am and have always been a creative person. But having a busy schedule means my energy is spent on other things and there is none or very little left for independent creative endeavors. Yes, the things I am using my energy on are all important things, but so it being creative for myself. That time where I can let my imagination drive me is the time that spurs me on and gives me the strength and creativity to pursue those other important things and do them well, without coming up empty.
I am my own person. Over the course of dating, getting engaged, and being married to my (amazing) husband, I think I lost track of how good it is to do things on my own. Because of our similarities there are a lot of things we enjoy doing together. There are also a lot of things we enjoy doing for just us. But because I love spending time with him, I often waste time on my phone waiting for him to be available, rather than starting on my own project and enjoying time to myself. I'm still working on this balance, but I hope that rekindling my passions will make this easier.
I can obey God by resting. I haven't bothered to go through the Bible and count how many times God says to rest, but it's a good amount. Not only that, but He even set an example for us to rest at the time of creation; something He, as an all-powerful God, definitely didn't need to do. I used to think that resting in order to follow God's command to rest had to specifically be time in prayer or reading the Bible. I've started to think differently about it. God gave me creative passions that allow me to feel rest. Passions that can potentially bring Him glory. So wouldn't I also be resting in Him by my creating of something in my time of rest that would bring Him glory? I believe so, as God is a God of creativity.
So what does rest look like for me, right now?
It looks like not packing my schedule full of plans and people. Listening to my body when it says it is tired, knowing when I need to say "no" and actually doing it. Resting looks like taking my time to complete the chores around the house. Not rushing, not hurrying on to the next thing, and giving myself margins throughout the day and in-between tasks.
It looks like planning ahead and giving grace at the same time.
It looks like cups of brewed coffee with homemade whipped cream, because I had the time to make it and it sounded fun. It looks like trying new recipes. Like allowing myself to get lost in thought. Of treasuring the sunshine for its rays of warmth and smiling at the rain and snow for their stillness. Like fresh air in lungs that had gone stale.
It's feeling like myself once again.
You don't realize until you look back just how much has changed. Just how far you had gone from feeling like yourself. Perhaps you looked the same to everyone around you. Perhaps you acted the same and did the same things you always did. Perhaps you even thought to yourself that nothing had changed.
Then you picked up that activity that you hadn't touched in a while and you wondered, "why isn't it making me happy? This used to make me so happy..."
Things change. We change. As we experience new things, we grow and we learn more. It's inevitable. And many times that change, that growth, is good. But we need to learn how to discern and realize which growth is good and which growth is taking away what matters most to us.
Take back what you love.
Take back who you are.
Stop giving so much of yourself away to the responsibilities that you've imposed on yourself. You can't do everything. Ask for help from those you trust. Learn how to say "no" when you need to, when you can't take on any more.
Keep working hard on what you need to, but give yourself time to work on yourself, too. Rest is what gives us the strength to complete the jobs before us. It is a task that we take too lightly.
That is one of our biggest mistakes.
As you consider what once brought you joy, consider how you can make time for yourself to find joy in it again. Then do it.