Teach Me to Rest.
This semester, I have been a full time student, a supervisor at work, an RA, the student liaison for the Presidential Ambassadors, a soccer player, a volunteer, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a writer, and a human being. Oh, and I have also been really, really tired.
Yesterday, a friend of mine said that she doesn’t know how I do what I do.
I told her that I’m not sure how I do it, either.
Overall, I think it involves a lot of faking it. My plant biology class this semester? Faking it. The research paper I just wrote? Faking it. This cool, calm, and collected exterior? Faking it.
You all already know I don’t have my life together any more than you do, so it’s pretty clear I don’t fake it for the sake of those around me. No, I’m faking it for myself. I tell myself it’s fine, I’ll make it through. I tell myself “This paper TOTALLY makes sense! It’s fine, just turn it in.” In reality, I’m not necessarily sure how I’m doing, but I know I’m not failing, so that’s good enough…right?
Faking confidence to make it through a class that’s way over my head is fine. Faking a calm exterior in order to more effectively lead others in chaotic situations is fine. Pretending I’ve been resting when my mind never stops running through my to-do list is not fine.
I am not interested in pretending that I have been feeling rested this semester. My body doesn’t care what my brain says, it’s screaming at me to take a breath already. To pause and remember I am not God, the world does not rely on me to keep it spinning.
But I have work.
And grocery shopping.
And people to lead.
And questions to answer.
And new people to hire.
And books to read.
And blog posts to write.
…do you ever feel like the time it will take to complete your to-do list is longer than the amount of time you have left to live?
No? Just me?
Well, regardless, I DO. I totally feel that way. But I don’t want to, and I have been trying to figure out all semester how I can make it stop.
It’s not perfectly worked out yet, but here’s the solution I have come up with: choose rest.
Every day, we make hundreds and hundreds of choices. What will I wear? What will I eat? When will I eat? Should I outline my paper before starting to write it? How much of the spaghetti sauce should I use? Do I have time to run to the store? Should I study now or later? Will I bake cookies today or tomorrow? Will I wash the dishes between classes? Will I rest today?
Often times, I become so wound up in answering the 999 other questions that I forget to decide if I will rest. I forget to choose rest.
By the way, it’s never more complicate than that, you know. Just like choosing what kind of pasta you need at the store, all you have to do is reach out and grab it. Look at the shelf, decide rest looks like the best option, and choose it. None of us look at the best option and then grab anything less. No, we choose the good stuff! So we should choose rest.
Resting does not mean being lazy. It means prioritizing yourself over your to-do list. It means taking a step back from anxiety-inducing demands of life in order to remember how to breathe deeply again.
Choosing rest means giving yourself permission to watch a funny show, read a book, take a nap, or do anything else that frees you from stress without feeling guilty for setting your to-do list aside.
I don’t know about you, but that’s a challenge for me. It’s challenging to fully enjoy any kind of fun activity when there are items waiting to be checked off of my list.
But just because it is challenging doesn’t mean it isn’t important.
When I rest, I find that I work more efficiently. I find that I am more optimistic and less overwhelmed after I have taken time to breathe. Life feels a little more doable, and I don’t have to fake my way through it.
It’s amazing what a little bit of rest can do.
So, right now, this is my prayer: “Teach me to rest.”
That’s it. Just teach me to rest, God.
Teach me to slow down, enjoy the view, and go back to my work with a refreshed outlook. Teach me to remember I am not God, I am not in control, and the world will keep spinning while I watch Gilmore Girls.
Teach me to rest.
Teach me to prioritize long-term healthy patterns built around rest instead of short-term rewards built around what people who barely know me think of me.
Oh, teach me to rest. Teach me to rest. Teach me to rest. That’s all I really need.