In the last blog, I said I was working on resting. I mentioned that I would get back to you on how that works.
Let me give you a few insights that I learned.
As someone who grew use to working 60+ hours a week, and really never being off the clock, I discovered a real problem with resting.
That problem is "me"!
As a youth I memorized Polonius' advice to his son, Laertes (Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3). It winds to a close with this piece of wisdom:
This above all: to thine ownself be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
I wonder how many of us are true to ourselves.
Last month, as I went on a holiday – a season of rest – my body intended to rest, but my soul didn't cooperate. Here was my first hurdle. How to get both my body and my soul to "rest"?
Paul Stevens of Regent College says that we do not have a soul – we are a soul; we do not have a body – we are a body. I agree.
The human soul is typically viewed as combining at least three crucial elements of our being: mind, emotions, and will – or the cognitive, the affective, and the volitional. How can these elements frustrate a person enjoying a season of rest?
As I explored what was working against enjoying a season of rest, I discovered some basic points of resistance in my soul. Some of you may say that these points are obvious. Yet for others of us (myself included) we have probably lived with these soulish matters so long they we are unaware of them and the harm they can do.
Here is a summary of my reflections. It unfolds as an acrostic: C.A.V.E.
Cognitive – this refers to our minds, our thinking. Many of us have been taught from childhood and through circumstances that we must work, work, work. In turn, that teaching has shaped the way we think about life – that it is all about working.
Affective – this is about our emotions. How do we feel about taking time to rest? Some of us, myself included, experience feelings of guilt or fear. Our fear may be a reaction to a perception that we will lose ground, income, opportunities, advancement; our guilt may arise from the sense that we do not deserve time to rest, or that we equate it with negative attributes of laziness and sloth.
Volitional – this signifies our wills. We need to make a decision to take time to rest. Sometimes we are unwilling to make a decision to enjoy a season of rest, or we may simply put it off until some later time – which may never come. Other things are viewed as more urgent and necessary. We think that we can rest any time – so we fail to make the decision.
Execute – this leads us to the action of actually taking time to rest. Once we have embraced more wholesome ways of thinking, feeling, and choosing a season of rest, we need to act so that rest becomes a reality.
As I mentioned earlier, moving toward a more wholesome way of thinking, feeling, and choosing was the first hurdle I identified.
Next week I'll propose a number of initiatives that I identified and began to claim. You may find them helpful.
Before closing, let me give you the first concrete initiative I discovered that moved my soul toward embracing a season of rest.
I quoted the words of Jesus in the last blog: "Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile" (Mark 6:31 NLT). Notice that Jesus was going to rest with his followers.
Here is another statement by Jesus:
"Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light" (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT).
My God and Savior wants me to enjoy rest!
So I claimed that by acknowledging this truth to myself out loud in a prayer.
That prayer went something like this:
"Father, you care for my well-being and desire that I experience rest in the rhythms of a healthy life. I acknowledge that you give me permission – body and soul – to enjoy this season of rest. Thank you for this gift."
I'll add some more insights I discovered next week.
Until next Friday,
John, a brother
Photo credit: John B. MacDonald (Sooke, B.C. - 2014)
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