In the last entry I talked about the gift of having more time than money and the countercultural reality of this state of being, at least for the Baby Boomer generation. Many of us were indoctrinated with a mindset that our worth is somehow tied up the size of our paycheck, the title we hold, and the job we do. Think about it: you go to a gathering and are introduced. One of the first questions asked is usually, “Tell me, what do you do?” to which we fill in the blank appropriately. “Oh, I’m a teacher.” “I’m a surgeon.” “I do ___________ for a living.” You get the picture. Yes, we give correct answers, but we don’t give the whole answer, and in doing so we discount major portions of who we really are–beloved child of God, unique creation, valued community member, and so on. We understand and celebrate the “do” part of us, while ignoring the “be” of our existence.
So, if you are fortunate to find yourself in the position of having an excess amount of time on your hands, I suggest the first thing you may wish to do is rest. Catch up on your sleep. Learn to sit still; pray, meditate, or do nothing at all for as long as you can. Chances are, if you’re used to functioning in the wonderful world of work, you will find this a most difficult challenge. We like to DO stuff in these United States. There is some sort of guilt thing going on that makes us fidget, causes our mind to wander, and reminds us that we ought to be out making a living or at least doing something that looks like it. We have a need to at least appear productive.
The reality is that our obsession with productivity, with climbing the corporate ladder, and with keeping up with the Joneses, the Patels, and the Sanchezes is killing us. By subjecting ourselves to extreme and ongoing levels of stress, we are at greater risk for heart attack, stroke, loss of memory, and decreased neural function. Numerous studies point to the danger of continuing our stress-filled lifestyles. Yes, a little stress is good, but do we need to live in a constant state fight or flight?
Even God, after speaking into life the entire universe, took time to rest. Now if the Creator of all that exists values rest enough to do it and to mandate that we do it, too, then why is it so hard for us to take heed? I know I’ve sure had a hard time with it over the course of my adult life.
Let me ask you a few things:
- When was the last time you took a slow walk and really looked at your surroundings and listened to the sounds of nature?
- How long has it been since you got back into bed, pulled the covers up, and enjoyed the leisure of rest? Or how often do you even take a “power nap”?
- When was the last time you “unplugged” from technology for a day–no television, Internet, cell phone, iPod, etc.
- How long has it been since you’ve spent an entire day with someone you love without worrying about deadlines, laundry, bills, or what’s going to happen next on Lost?
- When was the last time you really celebrated Sabbath? I’m not just talking about worship either!
To be honest, before last month I have to say that I was not very good at any of those things. I’m learning, and I’m growing, and I am finally experiencing for myself the real value and life-nurturing qualities of rest. You don’t need money to rest–no Caribbean vacation or day spa. Just choose a day and dedicate it to learning how to rest. You’ll be glad you did. Just think of the great dinner conversation it will make when someone asks you, “What do you do?” Imagine their surprise when you respond, “Well, today I rested.”
I’d like to hear from you about how you find ways to rest amidst the hustle and bustle of life. Please share!
From Just Living