Hurry. Rush. Hustle. Do. Go. Be.
Now...faster. More. Better. Repeat.
I've never been very good at being still. Even as a small child, I remember crawling in bed with my mom on early Saturday mornings and her reprimanding, "Be still...Stop wiggling.". I blame it on my personality. I am a natural doer, a go-getter, some might say. I blame it on my culture where there is nonstop action: always something to do, always something to see. I blame in on my own previously mentioned Super Mom. That woman never stops. She works harder than most men and has a skill set that astounds! Needless to say some of that had to rub off on me, right?
Last week, as I was busily rushing my kiddos around in the early hours of the morning, I heard on my favorite morning talk show that the most important thing you can do for your body is to get an adequate amount of sleep. In fact, sleep trumps a healthy diet and exercise in the impact that it has on our body, and without it, the other things we do aren't very effective. I feel like I know this to be true because if I go too many nights in a row without enough sleep, I get that familiar tickle in my throat and its downhill from there. My immune system betrays me. I see it like this (for my visual learners):
The Absolute Best Thing You Can Do for Your Body
(then way down here)
2. healthy diet
The Benefit: While you sleep, your brain is actually creating new pathways that support better memory, increased attention span, more productive decision making, and creativity.
The Deficit: Not getting the proper sleep can affect problem solving abilities, can cause problems controlling emotions or behaviors, create difficulty coping with change, and can also be linked to depression, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
Science also tells us that small children need way more sleep than adults do. Think of a newborn and how many hours they spend sleeping (often not during the hours we would like them to do it, but what you gonna do). Why is this? It's because sleep perpetuates the human growth hormone and is necessary for sufficient development.
SLEEP = GROWTH
We need rest to grow, replenish, and renew our physical bodies, so is this not true in our spirits and our minds? What do I mean by rest?
the refreshing quiet or repose of sleep:
refreshing ease or inactivity after exertion or labor:
relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs.
a period or interval of inactivity, repose, solitude, or tranquility:
mental or spiritual calm; tranquility.
The complications of life will inevitably come. Some of them will beat you down...hard. They will toss you around like a little rag doll. They will leave you with gashes and bruises and sometimes scars. If you're a doer like me, you're also a fighter. You will spend every last ounce of our energy fighting against the raging sea of uncertainty, suffering, and pain when what you really need to do is learn to float. You weren't made to fight the ocean alone.
Some fights are necessary, and those aren't the types of battles I'm talking about. These fights that I am referring to are about fear and insecurity, and their purpose is just to prove to ourselves that we have some control of the situation (when will we realize that we really don't?).
These types of fights remind me of my sweet toddler Jett that had to be restrained by me and a man of 6'2 to remove a tiny splinter in his hand that was causing him pain. He did not like this idea, the idea of trusting me to make it better. He would have much rather held it firmly against his chest and pretend it didn't exist, all the while fighting the pain that it was causing him. When he didn't willingly comply, we had to use force. He kicked and screamed like we were killing him, but the second I got it out, his face softened to relief. Now, he proudly talks about how I removed his splinter so it wouldn't get "infectable".
I'm good at that, too, What can I do to ease my own discomfort? What can I read to help me fix it? If I can only work a little harder, if I can only do a little more, if I only change this about myself, if I can only stop doing this and add a little more of that, THEN it will be ok.
I'm not discounting hard work. Hard work has helped me get to the places that I've needed to be. But sometimes we use all of energy and resources fighting for the wrong things when what we really need is not to fix it all but just stop. Here is my list of priorities for what I feel like I need in my spirit to make me healthy (again, fellow visual learners, you're welcome).
The Absolute Best Thing You Can Do for Your Spirit/Mind
1. REST in God
2. Consume a healthy diet of the Word
3. Exercise in acts of faith
The Benefit: When we stop trying to solve our own problems, and more importantly, realize that WE DON'T HAVE TO, we will see a vast improvement in our spirits and our minds. We will recall the many promises that we have been given as Christians and as individuals. We will solve problems in new ways, higher ways. We will pay attention to things that we never noticed before, and we will create like never before because we will be connected to THE Creator.
The Deficit: When we don't get proper rest, we make poor decisions and act in ways that we never thought we would act. Stress eventually becomes insurmountable, and we don't see things clearly which could contribute to depression and/or physical health problems.
When I'm not resting in God, I'm kind of like my exhausted 3 year-old that desperately needs a nap. I'm irrational and inconsolable. I throw myself on the floor in violent tantrum when I don't get what I want. I scream and cry and moan when all I need to do is consider who my Father is. I need to "be still and know" that he is God instead of making hasty decisions that eventually just bring more pain. I need to stop trying to wrestle my giants alone and fall into the sweet repose that he holds the world in his hands and surely he's got this. I need to relax and know that he cares for me so much he wants me to cast ALL of my anxieties on him, even my really irrational, illogical ones. I need to settle into the reality that he knows what I NEED even when I think I know what I want. And probably the most difficult (for me), I need to TRUST him through the waiting, through the uncertainty, through this period of growth.
REST = GROWTH
Much like a child's body releases growth hormone while he sleeps, we can experience the same growth when we settle into rest. There is something about the stillness that makes us stop doing and start thinking. There is something about the quietness that makes us stop screaming and start listening. And just like the physical principle that our body requires rest to heal, the same is true with our emotions. There is nothing more healing to the soul than rest.
And here's my favorite thing about rest: when you finally give in to the "sleep" that you so desperately needed, there is the possibility of dreaming. It may be the revival of a dream that you had long ago and forgotten amidst all the "doing". It may be a new exciting dream that you would have never considered. It may be a dream that died in the gritty battle of life but has been resurrected and breathes in life again. But you can rest assured that it will be AWESOME! It usually is if God has something to do with it.
Psalms 116:7 "Return to your rest, my soul, the Lord has been good to you. "
Philippians 4: 6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Isaiah 40:28- 31 “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
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Hey! My name is Andrea. I'm a teacher by day in a small Texas town, but in every other aspect of my life, I consider myself a learner. This blog is about life: learning through experiences, sharing through stories, and growing through faith.