I Must Confess
I must confess I struggle with overworking. Not only do I love what I do, but I love feeling productive. I love the feeling of marking things off of my check list. I love feeling organized. I love new ideas, new projects, new connections and new ways of seeing something that has become too familiar. I love seeing others getting excited about the same things.
So when I received a text the other day from someone with a fabulous idea, inviting me to consider exploring it with them, and my first response was to shut the idea down, fearing it would create more work for me, I realized what I need. I needed rest. It was a signal to me that I had not taken enough time for myself, to recharge my spirit, to slow down, to say no, and to rest.
Intellectually, I know the dangers of not resting. I know what it can do to my mind, body, spirit, and relationships. I preach it. I teach it. The importance of self-care shows up in classes I teach, trainings I lead, coaching and counseling sessions, and conversations with colleagues, friends, and family as I encourage people to practice self-care and hold to it. Yet, I confess. I still struggle with it.
Part of it is I was raised to value hard work. So much so that often my identity and worth can get wrapped up in the volume, content, and quality of my work. If I am not careful, my sense of self as made in the image of God can lean more towards human “doing” rather than human “being.” Rest does not come easy for me.
However, I know the results of dismissing, diminishing, and denying rest for myself. I don’t enjoy my work and ministry as much as my heart would desire. I am not as productive. I make even longer check lists which become impossible to complete. I lose a sense of creativity, wonder, and delight. And I have trouble seeing the joy in others and in myself.
This weekend I was reminded of the words of David Whyte as he writes about rest in this way:
“Rested, we are ready for the world
but not held hostage by it,
rested we care again for the right things
and the right people in the right way.
In rest we reestablish the goals
that make us more generous,
more courageous, more of an invitation,
someone we want to remember,
and someone others would want to remember too.”
--from CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. © David Whyte and Many Rivers Press
Rest is essential to our very being. It is a sacred mandate. It is the secret to a fuller life and relationship with the Divine, with self, and with others. Discovering the bliss and benefits of rest—may it be so in your life and mine as well.
Blessings, Rev. Shana Johnson, ISC Conference Minister