Archive for the ‘Rest’ Tag

Come and Rest   Leave a comment

I drove home from work this evening with my windshield wipers swishing away the dreariness and plotting how to ease my weary soul: instrumental music, a cinnamon scented candle, a DVD fire on the TV screen, a cup of coffee and a chocolate chip cookie topped with birthday cake ice cream, while nestling into my sofa to love on my two dogs.  So here I sit with Mazie curled up beside me and Mitts stretched out on my lap, lending me their peace.

I have things to do, things easier done in the daylight, but I’ve set them aside as the shadows settle in.  Through the back french doors I can just make out the black tree trunks and branches against the dark grey sky on the hill above our home.  It is okay.  There will always be one more thing to do.  My inbox will always be overflowing.  Rest is so important to God that it made his top ten list.  It is an act of holiness so basic to our well-being that it was the capstone of the world’s creation.  Even more than my body, my soul needs to let go, relax, settle in, harbor from the blasts life blows throughout the day.

Come join me.  Find your place of calm.  Leave the lists and obligations, the insistent tasks and expectations in the hands of the One who can carry it for you and come away to Sabbath for a time until the weariness slowly drains off and washes away.  Every person and task in your life is benefited by your self-care.  Breathe easy.  It is an act of holy obedience.

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Posted January 9, 2016 by janathangrace in thoughts

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Sitting Still Is Hard Work   2 comments

I’ve been missing here for a month, not from depression or busyness or low energy as in the past, but from fence sitting.

doggie on fence

Not by choice.  I’m too weak to jump out of the yard and do anything useful–I’ve glanced at projects countless times, even started some, only to realize they would drain my soul.  in the other direction, the emotional gravity dragging me back down hasn’t found a grip as long as I’ve kept my shaky equilibrium.  I’m in a holding pattern on a narrow platform, and I sense that it is my task to wait and gather strength.

donkey airedThis is not easy for me.  My internal voices are always shouting for me to get busy, and ignoring them has always led me into a place of shame.  They drove me into more and more Christian service until it broke me. When I discovered the potholes this pounded into my soul, I thought I had turned onto the road to recovery, but the voices just switched goals, whipping me towards personal development, “figure out NOW what is holding you back and FIX it!”  I feel ashamed for not healing faster.  Patience with myself is rarely an item in stock.

I have lived all my life on the principle that rest must be earned.  After all, God worked six days and rested on the seventh.  I thought the Sabbath was simply a concession to our weaknesses: “Okay, you’ve worked hard enough, so now you get to rest.”   In fact, there was no command to work six days… that was simply a necessity for survival and advancement.  The duty, the order, the commandment  (one of the Big Ten), was not to stay busy, but to stop busy.  The Sabbath is not a reward for working all week.  The reward for working all week is the material benefits we reap.  The Sabbath was certainly a blessing, but it was a command, not a reward.  It had its own justification and importance quite independent of the other six.

The Fourth Commandment was also not a prohibition (“thou shalt not work”) but a prescription: “Remember the Sabbath to keep it Holy.”  It offered positive power and creative purpose for our lives, the one day to focus care on our spirits instead of our bodies (for food, shelter, etc.).  If anything, it was not the work week that justified the Sabbath, but the Sabbath that justified and gave meaning to the work week.  I was raised on the “Protestant Work Ethic,” but what I really need is a strong dose of the “Protestant Rest Ethic.”  The first has often pulled me from faith in God to dependence on myself, but the second forces me back to faith… and though it is shaky and insecure, it is a faith I am committed to.weak faith

Posted October 27, 2013 by janathangrace in Personal

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It is night after a long day.

What has been done has been done;

What has not been done has not been done;

Let it be.

cowboy

Posted February 24, 2013 by janathangrace in Poems

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The Ups After the Downs   Leave a comment

Things were going fairly badly this last weekend.  My several hundred dollar chain saw died before Friday’s storm, which not only was a loss of that amount, but prevented me from making money clearing trees for the thousands who had trees down (about every other house on our street, for instance).  A huge tree from our yard was uprooted and crushed our neighbor’s shed, and I was trying to find out our home-owner’s insurance deductible (but the insurance company was closed for the weekend).  Our power went out, and hundreds of dollars of food was spoiling in our fridge and freezer.  We had no air conditioner or fans or ice on the very week the tempurature decided to climb above 100F.  My mower stopped working in the middle of cutting a lawn on Saturday, and I had no way of getting it up the steep ramp into the back of my truck (it weighs 500 lbs.).  I had to finish the 1 acre lot with my push mower (in said heat).  We had no internet to know what was going on (when the power would be back on, for instance), and my brother, undeterred by our lack of electricity, suddenly showed up in town for a visit (from the West coast)… we offered him warm orange juice and a candle to use the bathroom.  In this sweltering heat, we soon found out the electricity would be out for a week.

The financial hit was troubling me most as I have been unable to drum up enough clients to make my summer mowing economically feasible for us.  On Monday, I reached State Farm and found out that since this was an “act of God,” my neighbor’s insurance would be responsible to cover the costs.  My wife and I had been planning to visit a nearby friend (her “step-aunt” I guess) to celebrate the 4th and spend the night.  When they found out our electricity was down, they very graciously opened their home to us and allowed us to pack our refrigerated food into their fridge and freezer.  So here we sit in a beautiful lakeside house for the week, forced to have a vacation we could never afford.  As we were packing up to drive down here, Kimberly brought out a netbook she had but never uses.  I forgot it was around, and suddenly I realized I have the replacement for my laptop (which I’ve been badly missing for 2 months) only smaller and so much handier.  I figured out how to get the mower onto my truck (backing it up to a bank where I had towed my mower and pushing it in on the level ramp), and on Monday I was able to fix it with a $6 spring.  All in all, the week has been a wonderful refresher.

Posted July 4, 2012 by janathangrace in Life

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“You’re Weird”   7 comments

Kimberly and I have started reading a book on “Sabbath” each Sunday morning.  It suddenly occurred to me today that we are called to follow not only God’s example of rest, but his example of spending 6 days in creativity, like him expressing who we are to the world (for our gifts are simply an outflow of the unique creation each of us is).  If we could discover and have the courage to be our true selves before the world, offering it what we have rather than what we do not have, the world would be marvelous.  If we could only value each one for who she truly is and what her being means to my life and the life of the world as a whole.  If we could only live in a spirit of curiosity and receptivity for (and therefore blessing from) the uniqueness of each.

D.I.Y FACELIFT

Instead, we live out of who we are not, pushed into acting in ways for which we were not created, living a lie.  We hide our shame with pretenses and cover-ups, unable to encourage others to be themselves (and delighting in it) because of the fear out of which we live.  We find the uniqueness of others to be threatening, confusing, irritating, dividing, and so we push for them to conform to our ways of thinking and doing and being.  It is unsafe for any of us to be himself, since being rejected for our essence is the ultimate disgrace.  Sadly such shame disables and distorts God’s own creation as he designed each to be, with both our limitations and our abilities.  May we all learn to welcome and relish the beauty of differences.

 

Posted June 24, 2012 by janathangrace in thoughts

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Finding Grace By Doing Less   4 comments

I have been fighting with fear for a month now, and a sense of being overwhelmed.  It partly comes from my anxiety of having to survive this summer on my lawn-mowing income (along with my inability to pick up sufficient regular clients) and partly from forgetting (as a result) my 2012 commitment to rest.  It has made me think afresh of the Biblical command, not to keep the Sabbath, but to remember to keep the Sabbath.  Apparently I’m not alone in having fear and busyness crowd out the vital place of rest for my soul.   I notice that, remarkably, I accomplish less, not more, when I neglect the rest my soul needs… the fear and drivenness drain away my energy.  This has not always been the case.

Most of my life I lived by overriding my own needs.  I thought I was meeting my soul’s needs by spending hours in prayer, meditation and Bible study, going to church, self-examination and the like.  But in fact these were just more activities to which I drove myself.  They were not “means of grace,” but means of accomplishment, of spiritual advancement.  In those days I measured success by how much I changed the world for the better, not realizing that I was denying with my life the very gospel I preached.  It is hard for the fruits of grace to spring from the drivenness of legalism.  I was getting more tasks done (being successful) because of my unceasing labor, but grace would have had so much more space to work had I learned to do much less while acting from a spirit of unconditional love (in both receiving it and sharing it).

My conception of success has changed so drastically since those days.  The ghost of ‘failures past’ still haunts me at times.  I have not been able to fully shake off those old definitions (mostly because the whole world seems to speak that language), but I realize now that my soul’s health and thereby the health of the hearts around me is my new measure of success.  It has little to do with numbers of tasks completed or people fixed.  I would rather accomplish one thing a day graciously than a dozen without grace, and because of my unhealthy proclivities, the more I try to fit into the day, the more likely I will shortchange grace.  As I grow in grace, I believe I will be able to do more good, but for now I must live within my limits and refuse the shame that shouts at me for doing too little, learning to trust more in God’s grace.

Posted June 10, 2012 by janathangrace in Personal, thoughts

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The Strange Turn   3 comments

I can’t do another thing!

The Lenten season is past, but not my Lenten blessing.  I committed to fasting from haste and hurry, and this became a remarkable source of peace for me, as I eased back on my sense of should.  I started this process over the last decade as I gradually realized that most of the duties to which I felt driven were not from God, and that I could choose grace over obligation.  As I ignored these duties, I felt the sting of shame and clung to grace rather than works as a remedy.

But my Lenten exercise did something very unexpected for me.  Since I committed to the spiritual exercise of slowing down (and therefore accomplishing less), I was struck by the conclusion that God wanted me to rest.  It was not only that I could choose to ignore the pressure of obligation, that God would be patient with me in doing less, but that God wanted me to do less, he willed for me to offload these unnecessary burdens.  Grace demanded that I stop forcing my soul and start listening to it and choosing for its needs.  God was not impatiently waiting for me to “hurry up and get with it,” but he was calling me to be as patient with myself as he was with me.  For some time my mind has been convinced theologically that God is more patient with my rate of growth than I am, but after focusing 40 days on rest as a direction from God rather than a concession to my weakness, my emotions were also convinced.  God has designed growth as a life principle to go at a slow pace, and if I try to push harder and faster, I will make things worse instead of better, like too much water and fertilizer on my squash.  I have always been an overzealous fellow.

No doubt many folks go too easy, and would help themselves by picking up the pace, not on the trail of duty, but of grace, stirred by the anticipation and joy and wonder of being transformed, of discovering how rich and full life can be.  Grace removes the drive of obligation not to make us spiritually comotose, but to set us free to find and embrace the richness of grace, its inspiration and glory and power and freedom and joy.  I still have a long way to go, but I am laying one more foundation stone of grace in making this my Year of Rest.

Posted April 10, 2012 by janathangrace in Personal

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