We’ve all felt the exhaustion, the overwhelming sense of vague failure or defeat, the frustration of feeling like our goals are impossible. Maybe some women out there can manage, but we aren’t and cannot be.
We need rest. We know we need rest. But we aren’t sure how.
The only kind of rest we can even think of is a “turn it all off” sort of rest. Go away. Escape. Shut down. Stop the madness.
And that’s pretty much impossible.
So, rest must simply be unachievable for us. Let’s just give up with a novel on the couch or with chocolate and a tv show: a second-best sort of escape.
Real rest, however, leaves us feeling ready to tackle our duties again. It leaves us refreshed and energized, just like a good sleep.
True, a good sleep is one kind of rest, but it’s not the only kind. All rest, however, is not an escape from our duties, but another part of our duty before God. He never tells us to be go-go-go, and in fact commands us not to be. We are not to be self-reliant and self-sufficient, but abide in His rest.
Taking time to be, away from our productive mode and our duties of service and stewardship, acknowledges that we can’t do it all and rests in the knowledge that we don’t have to, because Christ has supplied all we need: salvation, peace, and joy.
God is in control; we are not. Rest is based on our trust of that truth, the truth of His providential care.
That said, there are 3 kinds of rest we need – none of which are escapist.
1. We need physical rest.
God made us to require sleep – a certain amount of sleep. When we aren’t getting the sleep our body needs, we must adjust our expectations about that body and the energy it “should” provide us.
We all go through legitimate times of sleep loss or even sleep deprivation as moms. We can accept that cross with a cheerful, willing spirit when we see it as a sacrifice asked of us for the sake of serving those God has given to our care. However, at the same time, we shouldn’t expect our ability to function to be unimpeded. We cannot hold ourselves to the same standards during a low-sleep season as we can when we are getting the sleep our body needs.
But another reality of mom life is that phase where it’s time to dig out of survival mode, where it’s now possible to get enough sleep, yet we aren’t because we are out of the habit.
Sometimes we need to sleep-train not the baby, but ourselves. That is a worthy effort, because sleep is a physical, created, honest, true, good need that we have.
A nap might be the best way to use 30-90 minutes of your afternoon, even. After all, our productivity is not about efficiency or getting the most possible done, but about effectiveness. A well-rested mom is better able to be a cheerful mom, and a cheerful mom is better than a clean house or a checked-off to-do list.
2. We need spiritual rest.
Rest is not just for the body; it is for the soul.
When Jesus said,
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
He was not promising naps. He was promising the peace and joy that His Spirit gives; he was promising that we would not have to rely on our work for salvation. We don’t earn our own rest. Christ has earned it for us, therefore we can rest.
He was also promising to be our rest.
When we feel like we just need a day off, a pedicure, a shopping day, a release or escape of some sort, it is because we are weary. If you’ve ever tried such mini vacations, perhaps you have also experienced the rushing return of stress as soon as you step back home and someone speaks to you again. It might have felt like rest while your feet were being massaged, but it was fake rest – as evidenced by the fact that when real life hits again, we’re right back where we were when we left.
When we’re weary, we must make sure to begin where Jesus told us: in Him. He knows what we need more than we know what we need.
Have we prayed? Do we pray? Do we read Scripture regularly? Do we faithfully attend church and worship with fellow believers, participating in the life of the body of Christ?
There is nothing wrong with a spa day or a personal vacation. However, they will never be a substitute for the means of grace in our lives, the work of the Holy Spirit, through God’s Word – both read personally and preached. In fact, we can only receive gifts like pedicures or a day out with gratitude and joy when first we are right with God, walking in faithful obedience.
Daily devotions doesn’t have to look Instagram-worthy or happen just so each morning. Rather, it should be a daily reliance on God. We must eat every day. Though often meals look different, we don’t skip meals because we forgot or missed our prep time – we find a way to eat, something, sometime. So it should be with God’s Word and prayer. We don’t skip it when we miss our regularly scheduled program – we take a quick bite, because we know we’ll faint midday if we don’t.
3. We need mental rest.
So we already know about physical rest and spiritual rest, but too often we stop at those two and expect all our problems should be solved if we’ve got those two in place.
But we find we don’t.
Between buzzing devices, needy children, and various projects, our attention is divided and scattered. We pride ourselves on multitasking and then wonder why we can’t focus.
Focus is single-tasking, and it is now nearly a lost art.
But it is more than an art; it is mandatory for sanity. The scattered, disoriented mental state we are all growing accustomed to is not mentally or emotionally healthy and it actually diminishes our ability to focus, to concentrate, to pay attention.
When we can’t stop our whirling minds, our stress increases without any release valve. We need calm; we need attentiveness – sometimes now called mindfulness, but actually attentiveness.
We can blame Facebook, our phone notifications, or pestering children, but these are only additional pulls on our attention.
Our scattered state starts within ourselves. We have a million things to do and we have no criteria or filter for deciding what to do next and ignoring the rest while we do what we must.
Escape becomes the only way we see out of our fragmented, frenetic interior, but there is a better way – an unconventional way.
Getting organized is actually less about doing more or adding another project to your plate. It’s really about figuring out your priorities, your responsibilities, and ordering your time and energy so your actions reflect those responsibilities and priorities.
Organization – life management more than labeled containers – is about moving to an attentive state of proactive problem-solving and action-taking instead of defaulting to a reactive, scattershot approach.
When your responsibilities are named and outlined, your time spoken for, your tasks laid out, you are then able to move forward with peace and calm, even as demands are made upon you. Because you know who you are, where you are, and what you’re about, you can respond appropriately.
Paying attention, intentionally and deliberately, and exercising self-control and self-discipline is the only way to move out of the perpetually distracted, harried mode we all know so well.
Watch the replay of the How to Find Rest as a Mom at Home live chat that happened May 2018. In it, we discuss many more pieces of each kind of rest, why they are so essential, and how to build them into our lives.
If your idea of a summer break involved burying your head in the sand and ignoring your world falling apart around you, I have a news flash: You won’t come back to your life refreshed and ready to dig in.
No, it is only after you dig in that you’ll actually be able to take a break and rest.
Not that you can’t rest until after your life is in order, but until you confront your problems head on and commit to tackling them, you won’t experience the peace of mind and confidence of spirit you’re looking for.
Real rest begins with calm clarity, and we get that not from a spa day or binge watching our favorite shows or reading a good novel – we get it from a good brain dump and then a practice of processing it.
Simplified Organization is about putting your life back into balance by starting with faith and hope and trust, the basis of true rest.
- It is not another project to add to your ever-growing list.
- It is not an additional responsibility or burden.
- It is a method for getting back in the saddle and being responsive to God and your family instead of reactive to the moment’s chaos.
Now is a better time than ever to commit to organizing not your closets, but your life and your attitude with the Simplified Organization eCourse. For the next 12 weeks – starting Friday! – we’ll work bit by bit through the material. Each week will come with a checklist to make the required actions clear, including a Bare Minimum Version with 3 quick, simple tasks to help move you forward without increasing your project load or demanding a lot of time.
I don’t want to pile your plate higher, I want to help you clear your plate of clutter and make sure it’s clean – not that it is empty, but that it isn’t making everything on it gross with mold (in the metaphor, that’s your bad attitude). Organization really does start with our mindset and our attitude. Simplified Organization always starts and ends there, even as we build planners and systems to dig into our duties with joy.