Being a parent often seems like there is never enough time, and often we shortchange ourselves on rest to compensate. Sometimes I thrive on all the hustle and bustle, and other times I feel as though I’m on a speeding train I’d love to make an immediate departure from. The worst part is that sometimes I’m unable to distinguish between the two, propelling me into confusion. My wife Naomi knows too well, but after I’ve given my best to work and the kids, there isn’t much left for her. That isn’t fair, or honoring our sacred relationship. What am I robbing myself of when I deprive myself of rest in all its forms?
Rest. This is an elusive and mystical word to a parent of young kids, which often makes me think; “one day I’ll have time for that” or “I’ll rest when I’m dead.” Neither of these views help me give my best to my family. But I often fall into the trap of pushing myself, keeping busy and just getting the things done that Dad’s need to do. Do I wear it as a badge of honor? Possibly, and that is not healthy nor productive. That view is selfish and does nothing to glorify God. When I can’t be my true (and rested) self, I am robbing the world of the joy God has placed in my heart. Even if you're SuperMom or SuperDad, be honest, you can’t fake it but for so long.
But I got responsibilities man! Your quick schemes won’t work for me! Yes, it’s a challenge to find rest, or is it? I think it’s important to remember that Grace through Jesus comes through Him, not through our deeds. Deeds keep us busy, and we often give too much credit to our works. We spiral into an endless cycle of “doing” in order to prove our worth, and this isn’t just a spiritually manifested issue. I can’t give you a definition of what rest looks like, because everyone’s needs are different. But lately I’ve been thinking of an acronym that helps me, and may help you determine how you can weave rest into your schedule, however brief. Here are my guidelines for R.E.S.T.
Recurring - Make it intentional, and on a schedule that works for you. Even if it’s locking yourself in the bathroom to escape for 5 minutes (and yes, we have all done it). Don’t let those little fingers under the door distract you, they will surely survive, as their only aim at that moment is to pull your attention. Setting yourself boundaries will help you carve out some time. Isn’t it strange how boundaries can make us more free? Understanding this has always been a challenge, because as the parent you are always the enforcer. In my daily rhythm, I try to catch myself “scrolling” and jolt myself into stealing my time back. We all find ourselves scrolling social media, so this is the perfect time to reclaim that few minutes as your own. I also find that if I wake up before my kids, it’s hard for them to interrupt me during that time. It’s the absolutely most perfect time of the day, since I tend to be a morning person. Enjoy - The act of resting should recharge you, which means it should be a departure from your normal routine. Shock your system by doing something you enjoy, which is something you have probably deprived yourself of as a busy parent. You will be surprised how even a small burst will recharge your battery. This is a deeply personal choice, dig deep for something God has uniquely placed in your heart. Solitary - I’m a social person, so this one is sometimes a struggle for me. But I find with the constant draw for my attention by my kids, the best rest for me in my current phase of life is often in solitude. It gives me a chance to reflect, which leads to the last and most important part. Thankful - When you take time away, always do so with a thankful attitude. You shouldn’t shame yourself while you are taking time away, that will always be self defeating. The idea of rest (in the form of a sabbath) is deeply Biblical. You can choose to explore any of the scriptures around this topic, but I always fall back on the creation story. If God decided to take a rest, then it’s perfectly fine for you to do so as well! As you go about your day, I challenge you to implement these ideas. Did you notice that it costs nothing? And that it has no constraints on what you should do, or how long it should take? You may need to enlist some help for you to carve out a small block of time, this is also perfectly acceptable. It is a process, just make sure that you protect what works for you. Take heart in this, and work on giving a slightly better version of yourself to the world. We are called to let our light shine, so do so with a restful heart.