I lift my head groggily from my pillow, removing my slightly tangled hair from my face as I grope around to find my phone with half-shut eyes.
3:45pm flashes across my touchscreen.
I sigh contentedly, stretching out my legs as I soak in this moment.
It is a moment of stillness, of quiet. It is a moment of rest.
This whole napping in the mid-afternoon thing is quite a recent development. I can certainly attribute it to growing in understanding my need to rest. Sometimes it isn’t napping. In fact there are many things that I do that I find quite restful! Going for a run, writing a good story or catching up with a friend are all activities that bring a revitalizing air to an otherwise mundane or hectic day. And in discovering not only my need for rest, but that it doesn’t necessarily mean I must physically stop moving, it made me think, what prevents us from resting? Why do certain passions drain us instead of give us life?
For some of us, we keep ourselves occupied because we are afraid that, if we stop moving, we will cease to exist. Not literally, but perhaps we would cease to bring something important or valuable to our own lives and the lives of those around us. We have bought into the belief that our actions have a direct relationship with our worth. We have bought into the belief that we are what we do.
And when we think we are what we do, rest is a frightening prospect.
If we are simply the product of our actions, then we are captive to the tyrant of the urgent. Though we find ourselves exhausted, we flee from stillness, whether physical or within, because when our tasks cease to exist, we are afraid that our value will diminish as well.
The truth is, we are not simply the sum of our works. This marriage of task and self yields dire consequences, and is a dangerous game to play. The actions we choose to engage in are not who we are, but rather an expression of who we are. What we choose to do is not the enemy; the way we choose to perceive ourselves in relation to our action is what we must be wary of.
When we live a life running from rest, we find ourselves more cluttered than ever before. In choosing rest, we find the raging waters of our souls stilled, so we can see our own reflection clearly on its glassy surface.
And having rest is simply that – a choice. We do not stumble upon stillness. We must seek it and pursue it, with arms outstretched and claim it. Now, this is not to be done out of striving, but out of intentionality. As we see clearly, that we are not simply the sum of our actions, but rather who we are is something intrinsic, we are free to actively choose to rest.
When we know that who we are created to be runs far deeper than our actions or roles, rest is freeing, and actually enables us to pursue our passions in a healthy way. We are free to be our truest selves, and find that what we love to do comes forth from that place. We can rest, and rest assured in who we are made to be.
What do you find restful? In what ways have you seen your identity connected with what you choose to do nor not do? Share below, we’d love to know your thoughts on this!
– image credit: Luke Chesser