Being able to turn your mind off, quiet your heart before the Lord and rest in His presence is so very important. And yet we do it so infrequently. The pace of life can be so hectic with iPhones, work schedules, after-school activities, meetings, social stuff and ministry commitments. A lot of the people in our Bible study shared how hard it was for them to simply rest and be still in God’s presence.
This is something I struggled with for years.
Through most of my high school, college, grad school and early years of my business, I operated at a pace that was unsustainable. I almost always worked full-time while going to school full-time. I was always saying yes to things I really should have been saying no to. I rarely slowed down and I never stopped. And then I would wonder why I frequently crumbled under the pressure of it all.
This really started to catch up to me in 2012 and 2013. Working full-time for my business, almost full-time for my 2nd job, pursuing fertility treatments (talk about a time suck!), trying to be a good wife, friend, daughter and sister nearly destroyed me. I was stretched thinner than I had ever been stretched. I operated in “survival mode” for the majority of those years. Somehow, a 60 hour work week became the norm.
People would ask how I was doing and all I could respond with was, “crazy busy.” And the funny thing is, people would affirm that response! They’d say “oh, you’re so lucky to have so many weddings to photograph!” “you do such a great job at multi-tasking!” “you’re fortunate to have 2 paying jobs” Yes……but. Yes to all those things, but no one ever stopped to say “hey girl, you’re gonna implode soon if you keep this crazy pace up.”
And I think that’s because our culture glorifies busyness. We tolerate it, embrace it and equate it with success.
Think about it. 9 times out of 10, when you ask people how they have been, they respond with some version of: “I’m slammed at work, we’ve been super busy with the kid’s schedules, crazy busy, keeping busy, I’m staying busy…” And half the time they say it with a smile on their face. As if that’s the goal. As if busyness is the objective.
So it’s no wonder the idea of resting in God’s presence feels so foreign. Because it requires us to set aside all the distractions from our minds and just be. It feels odd to clear a whole day (or even a whole hour) and go for a hike or sit on a bench and pray or go for a drive. It feels borderline wrong…
In the past year I have made a very intentional effort to rest more. To clear my schedule, my mind, my list of things I say “yes” to. I’ve tried to whittle down my priorities, live simpler and leave whole days wide open for nothing but being out in God’s creation. I know that I have the luxury of being self-employed and the ability to manipulate my schedule however I want, but as someone who runs their own business there also the temptation to fill every hour with things that will help grow and sustain your business. Trust me when I say I know many self-employed people who never rest and are constantly going 90mph. I have had to be very intentional to not make myself busy.
Not being busy has been glorious. I feel like I’m making up for lost time. For all those years that I barely rested. I’m taking intentional time to go for walks, hikes, drives through the mountains. I’ve been reading books, watering my flower garden, enjoying a cup of coffee on the porch, meeting David for lunch and quietly watching storm clouds pass by in the afternoon. And I’ve been listening to a lot of bluegrass lately too. Bluegrass seems to go hand in hand with a restful outlook on life. 🙂 It’s been in these times of rest that I’ve felt closest to God lately. There is enough space in my heart to feel Him move. My mind is quiet enough to hear His softest whispers
It’s been interesting when people ask me about my summer schedule. They typically say something like “Do you have a lot of weddings lined up this summer? This is your busy season, are you just swamped with work right now?” And I often respond with something like “I’m as busy as I want to be.” Because I feel guilty saying “Actually, I’m not busy at all. Actually I don’t have any weddings this month. Actually my primary objective this week is to go on a cool hike and maybe read a good book.” People have no idea what to do with that kind of response haha! 😉 Plus as a business owner, you run the risk of looking like your business is in the tank if you say you’re not busy. After all, busyness equals success, right?
Now I know that we all have seasons in our lives where busyness isn’t exactly something we choose (even now in my moments of intentional rest I find myself thrown back into feeling too busy for my own good). It just kind of happens to us. Tell the single mom who works to support her kids to stop being so busy…see how far that gets you. Tell the person trying to fund raise for their start-up ministry to stop being so busy…see what happens. I get that there are times in our lives where busyness is equated with survival, not success. Trust me, I’ve been there.
But I think even in the midst of busy, we can carve out time to spend resting in the peaceful presence of God. He is the Provider of rest and peace. And He very much wants to supply us with it. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”-Matt 11:28 But we can’t always expect that rest when we come before Him refusing to let go of unnecessary (keyword: unnecessary) commitments, activities, schedules and preoccupations.
So, let’s all just collectively let the unnecessary stuff fall away and embrace a little more rest, simplicity and peace. Shall we? You never know what good things might come out of all the running around we won’t be doing.
I took this a few nights ago driving home. I just pulled over on the side of the road and watched this amazing storm for a while.