What I’ve Learned in this “Year of Rest”

Enter the second week of the eighth month of the year two-thousand-and-twenty. About ten months ago, I realized I had slid into creative burnout and I needed creative rest and refueling.

Thus, the word for the year was chosen.

Back then, none of us understood how much unrest would grip our world. It started with a continent-consuming fire and escalated to a close call on the next world war. Then came the pandemic. A nationwide quarantine in the United States fueled emotions, so when a man of color was unjustly killed during what should have been a routine arrest, protests and riots exploded.

When I wrote this post at the end of July, protests were still going in nearby Portland, Oregon.

Man, did I need rest. But before I could experience it, I needed to understand it.

Theme Verse

Each year, I choose a Bible verse to go along with my word for the year. An obvious choice jumped out at me: Matthew 11:28-29.

I decided I was going to discover all the hidden nuances of this scripture.

Imagine my surprise when it didn’t have many. This straightforward invitation from the Savior of my soul is plain:

“Hey, Shari, if you are burdened, you need to come to me. Let me share the yoke. I’ll replace your heavy burden with my easy one. Get to know me and lean into me, that’s when you’ll find rest that seeps through your soul.”

It was obvious I wasn’t being encouraged to stop working. Instead, I was told to stop shouldering the work ALONE.
Clearly, I needed to learn more about rest, so I searched my Bible app and found a bunch.

Reading Plans

I alternated reading the Bible app plans about rest with other plans because I wanted time to digest the wisdom.
Scripture learning isn’t like other book learning. You don’t read a passage and study it a bit and then consider it “known and understood.” The Bible is a living book and because of that, it has to be meditated upon and considered with an open heart and prayerfulness.

Did I mention I just wanted to get rested up so I could get back to work?

It was May before I discovered a plan that really struck me. “Soul Rest: Return to Sabbath” spent a week helping me understand what it meant to “find rest unto your soul” (Matthew 11:29d).

Here were the six steps:

  1. Keep still
  2. Take inventory
  3. Focus on the Source
  4. Learn what God wants
  5. Practice Fasting
  6. Give Generously

The final day talked about the return to the sabbath. It was a day to stop laboring and remember Jesus’ sacrifice. It was a time to prove our reliance on God. Do we believe He is working things out while we’re resting? Or are we sure we must keep doing and doing and doing so things get accomplished?

It’s sad how much weight and meaning we give to our work. Don’t we recall how the difficulty of work was part of the curse? In the perfect world, work was something we did to meet physical necessities while waiting for evening when God would come hang out with us in the garden.

My Takeaways

I want to say that I learned so much about rest, and it’s helped me practice soul rest every Sunday. But, authenticity is a big part of my brand.

I’m a work in progress. My relationship with work is still under construction. However, I did learn a few things about rest:

  • We need a day of rest every week. This is a day when our only activities should be those that connect us with our spirituality and refresh us.
  • Work is not our goal, but it is a means God uses for us to express our gifting.
  • Relationships are more valuable than career accomplishments.
  • Rest takes as much focus as work until we learn how to let go of the things that keep our minds busy.
  • If we don’t rest, our body, mind, soul and spirit suffer.
  • Even God rested and reflected on His creation. I need to appreciate the finished work more before I move onto the next thing.

While I’ve experienced spurts of creativity, it’s clear to me that my creative well is still mostly dry. I need to fill it with dedication rather than trying to drain it with writing goals and expectations.

Resting is anti-thesis to my “work first, play later” mentality. That mindset served me well for fifty years, and I credit it for getting me where I am in pursuit of my biggest dreams.

But this year has taught me that even though ingrained habits can be helpful, sometimes breaking them and exchanging them for new ones is essential.

There is rest for the weary. Better yet, if we practice “six days to work and one day to rest” we might avoid weariness altogether.

What is your definition of rest? How do you rest?

4 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned in this “Year of Rest””

  1. For me, rest has a lot to do with trust. I can’t really rest on my weekly day off unless I trust God to keep everything under control without my assistance 😀 Seems blatantly obvious when I put it like that but it can be surprisingly hard in practice.

  2. Sometimes “rest” means that I physically ‘do’ very little. My body needs to recover. But during that rest, I need to reflect on why I am so worn out and count my blessings. I need to remind myself of what my priorities should be.

    Sometimes “rest” needs to include another person: conversation, restful activities – like a walk together or conversation.

    My favorite Sunday rest day includes recovery and preparation for myself for the coming week.
    Starting with listing with what I am grateful for upon waking. Quiet time, prayer then stretching. Attending church and worship service with my husband in the morning. When I attend alone, a little something is lost. Then we grocery shop and I meal prep for the week. I enjoy the time we spend together shopping. It is still a ‘new’ experience after five years! I believe shopping together takes away the ‘chore’ aspect.
    I think that I find prep restful because I am listening to praise music as I wash and chop vegetables and create a menu to help nourish our physical bodies throughout the week.
    Getting a walk in is a bonus on the nice days. The sounds of the ocean and fresh air are very restorative!
    I believe that a good Sunday restorative is peace centered and helps prepare my mind, body and spirit for the upcoming week. I feel refreshed at days end.
    When Sunday’s are packed – it is more difficult to feel restored at day’s end.

    1. Agreed. Each of us finds rest in unique ways, but true rest involves all parts of our trinity: body, mind and spirit. And you nailed the shopping thing. Jeff and I just started doing it together and it is almost fun. Almost.

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