Resting in the Busy Season

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about rest.

Maybe it’s because my Fall season was absolutely crazy.  Like, we really only had 3 unscheduled weekends from the beginning of September to Thanksgiving.  Not exaggerating.

Maybe it’s because we are in the middle of the holiday season and I just can’t wait to get to Winter Break for some down time.

And back to that summertime “season of rest” I thought I was going to get once the school year was over?  hahahahaha

Long story short, my summer season turned into lots of car rides to chiropractor appointments to help my 2 girls work through some niggling running related injuries before cross country season started back up.  It also involved helping my oldest daughter buy her first car, and helping her figure out her first quarter of college, and basically a whole bunch of teaching her adulting stuff.

But while my summer and fall didn’t feel very restful at times, they mostly felt *GOOD.*  I knew that I was helping my daughter prepare for adult life.  I knew during the fall that the busy-ness of the weekend events were creating community around us… For my kids and their respective cross country teams, for us as the parents and all of our running friends…  For my dancer daughter who is pursuing her dream of competing at Worlds…  All of the busy-ness had a purpose.

Still, while it felt good, it also felt exhausting.  Even though it was purpose driven, it was tiring.  I feel like I’ve been going going going like the Energizer Bunny since we started back to school.

And I know that rest is important.  I know that overtraining can lead to injury, and that rest is just as much of the process as the workouts.  I know that God says we should have rest.

So my question today is: how do we find time to rest when we are in a season when things are just FULL?  How can we make sure we don’t “overtrain” in a sense and then be caught in a season of forced rest?

Many of my friends try to have a true Sabbath, or day of rest, every week.  I applaud and admire those who are able to make it happen.  But what do you do when it’s just not a reality that can happen?

I suppose that in an ideal world, my family would have time to truly Sabbath together once a week.  The reality is that I have 2 college students, and one high schooler who live in my home.  Our family is involved in a local church plant, and we have various evening activities that each of us are involved in. Our days, our lives, are full.  But I know that we need rest.  I hear the whisper in my heart, the tug of His voice, telling me that it’s ok to slow down sometimes.

So we do our best to slow down.  We curl up on the couch with our Netflix binges, and lose ourselves in the stories of our new favorite BBC show.  My “cave-dwellers,” as I like to call my 2 adult children, disappear into the basement to do homework or chat with friends, and my family of introverts recharges enough to do it all again tomorrow.
Doesn’t sound very restful, does it?  Well, sometimes yes, and sometimes no.  Sometimes it does feel like a Band-Aid to get us through to the next day.  But other times, when I come home after a busy day at work and I get to just “be”, I really do feel rested.  I think I’ve figured out what makes the difference.
When I was in our University Choir (many, many years ago), it was often that we would have a long phrase with no breath marks.  In those beautifully written lines of music, the composer had forgotten, or simply not cared, about the fact that singers need to breathe!  During those agonizingly long phrases, our conductor would advise us to “stagger breathe,” or to grab a quick breath as needed, just not when the person next to us was breathing.  This way, we were able to take the breath we needed, while those around us held the line and the music continued uninterrupted.
 I find this to be a great metaphor for rest during the particularly busy seasons of life.  Sometimes those “stagger breaths” happen in a quick moment and are simply enough to get us through the music to the next part.  Those around us help carry the part so that the music doesn’t falter.  And usually, there comes a point in the song when there is a reasonable period of rest and the singers can breathe freely.

Thankfully, life also moves in seasons, and while there are seasons of life that require “stagger breathing,” there are also seasons that provide longer periods of rest.  Remember the phrase, “Sleep when the baby sleeps”?  Over the years of my kiddos growing up, I’ve learned that there is wisdom to be found in taking rest when it comes.  Sometimes, it comes in the form of a stagger breath, that propels you through the challenging lines, and sometimes it comes in the form of a longer season. 

True rest comes when we are able to set aside our worries, our fears, our insecurities, and simply be. We trust that Jesus has our back.  We give it all to Him and trust that He will handle it.

 When my moments of “rest” are marked by my brain continuing to go 100 miles a minute, and all the worries of life still pressing in around me, then those stolen moments of BBC don’t really help.  But what makes the “Band-Aid” different from real, life-changing rest?  I find that when I take those worries, fears, and insecurities and lay them at the feet of Jesus (sometimes on a minute-by-minute basis!), then I do find true rest in the things that I’ve learned to use to “recharge my batteries.”  The key is in trusting the Conductor.

So how about you?  What recharges your batteries?  Are you in a season where you are able to take a true Sabbath day each week? Or, like me, do you take the rest when it comes?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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