Go Ahead, Take A Load Off

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a blog written by Jennifer Lynn

The last time I was on a vacation was back in August 2011. A girlfriend of mine and I went to Nashville. My favourite place on earth! (Where my country music people at??) What’s even better is that it was a road trip. Just the two of us for eight days. It was awesome. And very hot! And not the lying on a beach soaking in the sun kind of hot. It was gross hot. But it was Nashville and when you love something that much like I do, you put up with their less than admirable qualities. My love for Nashville vetoed my distaste for it’s climate issues.

I haven’t been on vacation since. Yup, you heard me. Seven years of “stay-cations”, right here baby. Not like those people that take off 3 or 4 times a year to some far off place. I mean, who wants that kind of life? Meeting new people. Exploring ancient civilizations. Trying new cultures. Tasting new foods. Weirdos. Okay, that was sarcasm. That actually sounds amazing to me but unfortunately travel is very expensive and the last few years hasn’t exactly been good to my bank account. Soooo, stay-cation it is!

The funny thing is that in the last few years I could’ve actually used a vacation. With all the stresses and disappointments and hurts that went along with it, the last place I wanted to be lately is right here. I’ve found myself feeling very restless and irritable, wishing I could just take off somewhere for even a few days. A few days to unplug from life. A few days where my troubles can’t find me. A few days of rest.

The world we live in today makes rest almost impossible. Everything is so loud. It can be a bit of a chore to find a moment of silence. I’ve realized you have to be very intentional about finding moments of rest. Because as much as we love to make money and feel accomplished and do all the things, if we don’t take moments to rest we are actually sabotaging ourselves. I can go to the gym and eat all the right foods, but if I’m not getting enough sleep, I’m actually hindering my goals, not helping. If I’m working crazy hours without proper rest in-between, eventually I’m gonna burn myself out and not be able to work at all. Or even as a mom, it’s so easy to lose ourselves in the needs of others that we forget about ourselves. Until that one day that we can’t take it anymore and we completely lose it on our husband or children and end up on the floor in a giant heap of tears and self loathing.

I have become very intentional about finding moments of rest. I know that for myself it is very necessary. I’ve had seasons in my life where I have gone non stop and it didn’t serve me, or others well. And it’s not just necessary for me, spiritually, physically, emotionally or mentally but also creatively. As a writer, I need those moments of rest and solitude to think, to reflect, to create. Physically speaking, I’ll sometimes allow myself to sleep in on a day off and not even set the alarm. To wake up when my body is actually rested. Especially after working such long hours over a long period of time. And it’s not something that I apologize for because I know me and I know that me on little sleep is a disaster waiting to happen. Emotionally and mentally speaking, I make sure I do things or surround myself with things that inspire me or bring me joy. That take the cares of the world away, even for a moment. I think that’s why I’ve gone to so many concerts over the years. Or why I love going to the theatre or even watching a movie at home. For that brief moment, the weight of everything else going on in my life is lifted. It’s also why I write and sing. It’s my way of not allowing how I’m feeling to stay bottled up. It’s better to let it out. All of these help me to find rest.

While all of what I’ve just mentioned are very helpful for me in certain areas of my life, it’s important that we all find something in our own life as well. And that might look different for you as the word “rest” means different things to different people. But the most important type of rest that I want to share with you is spiritual rest. Something that this world can’t offer us (but oh do they try.)

One of the definitions of the word “rest” in the dictionary is this: allow to be inactive in order to regain strength, health or energy.

In the Bible, Jesus himself lets us know how to find the ultimate rest. It’s in Him.

“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)

I have tried many, many ways to find rest from the day to day grind that inhabits us all. And they work, momentarily. But when the high of those temporary “rests” wear off, and they do wear off, we need a more solid, permanent rest to fall back on. Something, or should I say, someONE that we can count on as a steady, reliable source. Dare I say, a soft pillow on which to lay our weary heads. Jesus is who I go to for that type of rest. Talking with Him, venting to Him, giving Him all of the heavy stuff that I carry over to Him is the ultimate rest. Sometimes just crying out to Him and to know that He is listening is enough. He’s a big God with broad shoulders. He can take it. And what’s even better He’s the only one that can really do anything about any situation that I’m in. Which, when I really allow that to sink in, gives me the most assurance and allows my heart and mind to be the most at peace and at rest.

He IS rest. He is the very epitome of rest. The very definition of it. So it makes sense that as we draw nearer to Him, and He draws nearer to us that we find ourselves in the very presence of rest itself.