Ever since I can remember I have been a planner. Sometimes to a fault. You know those kids in school who write everything down in their agenda? The adults who buy all the stationary goods? Love or despise planning, natural skill or not, paper or phone, figuring out a way to set rhythms for our lives is essential to living an intentional and purposeful life. Annie Dillard said it best: “How we spend our days is, of course how we spend our lives.”
There are certain seasons when it feels like the things we spend our days on are not important. Seasons when everything feels mundane and unimportant. And then there are seasons when it feels like the train is barreling down the tracks so fast that it won’t stop and you can’t get off. Seasons when everything feels urgent and important.
In this rhythm series, I hope to pass along some keys I’ve learned that establish rhythms that work for your life. Before diving into the nitty gritty details of schedules and planning, this post’s focus is rest.
It really is senseless to work so hard from early morning till late at night, toiling to make a living for fear of not having enough. God can provide for His lovers, even while they sleep. (Psalm 127:2, The Passion Translation)
In our lives there will always be a time to work and a time to rest. If we don’t give ourselves permission to rest, the fear of lack and scarcity will rule our choices and decisions and our actions become frantic and aimless. It could be fear of lack in any area of life that prevents rest; scarcity in finance, relationships, time, opportunities, and a hundred and one other things that can keep you up at night.
Things in life produce and grow when given periods of rest. Bread dough bubbles up and rises with rest. Soil is most nutritious when given a break every few years. The muscles in our bodies heal and grow with recovery time. I’ve been guilty of striving and toiling and things get ugly quickly – small stresses and annoyances suddenly become a huge deal.
Rest is a space cushion, that safe distance between your car and the cars around you, in our lives keeping us safe and giving us room for movement. It’s the margin that allows for flexibility and overflow.
Here are some keys to establishing rhythms of rest:
- Figure out what brings you rest
- Find ways to gracefully say “no”
- Disconnect: turn the phone on airplane mode or off
- Do one thing restful everyday (even if it’s only 15 minutes)
- Plan one extended restful activity once a week (could be half a day or a whole day depending on your season in life
Figuring out what brings you rest can be tricky. Resting is different than crashing; it’s intentional not mindless. Maybe it’s taking a walk, reading a book for pleasure, listening to music without doing anything else, going to an art gallery, running, journaling, browsing the aisles of your favorite store, road tripping, taking a bath.
Regardless of everything else going on in your life, set time aside each day and once a week that is sacred and immovable to rest. In the beginning of creation the need for rest was established – we are at our best in every other area of life when this is a rhythm in our lives.
If you want to dive deeper into this topic here are some good resources:
Rhythms of Rest by Shelley Miller
Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner
Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung
Deep Work by Cal Newport
In Praise of Slowness TED talk
The Art of Stillness TED talk