“You need to rest. And not just the sleeping kind.”
“What does that even mean?”
“I don’t actually know, that’s just what people tell me.”
I’ve been tired lately. Whenever I’ve admitted this, I’ve been told to “rest.” I was encouraged that resting is vital, that I shouldn’t feel guilt over saying no to opt for rest. When I think of rest, I think of nothing. I literally just think of doing nothing, of lounging around, of hanging out.
And so, I dropped. I dropped hobbies. I dropped friend groups. I dropped communal bible studies. I dropped school. I dropped shifts. I slept longer. I slept often. I slept, period. I talked about it. I cried about it. I wrote about it. I offered it in worship.
Yet, it persists. It lingers.
It’s like a toxic childhood friend who knows no boundaries. Our history binds us, deludes me into believing this is for the long haul, that I may as well get comfortable. I’m distracted in community. I don’t hear her badgering voice, don’t feel her desperate arms clinging around my waist in the company of others. But, when I leave- when I no longer have the chatter of customers at work, the tunes of songs during worship, the shuffling of feet at Bold Bean- I realize there she is. There she’s been all along. Right beside me.
For this, I had high hopes of Spring Retreat. I expected restoration. I longed for that rest, that people speak so fondly of. And I left disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, Spring Retreat was beautiful beyond measure. I am thankful for the conversations of “Jesus clones” by the pool. I am thankful for the friends who give me space to speak and permission to not. I am thankful for the inspiring messages by Troi, Gabi, and Zak. I am thankful. I am inspired.
But she was there.
Post- SR, I went to the park. Confession: I only go to parks when I’m on the verge of an emotional breakdown and need to sort out my inner turmoil. Thing is, I caught it too late. By the time I’d put my car into park, the tears were at my chin. Part of me, conscious of my clear windows, avoided eye contact with pedestrians. The other half, much too broken to care, continued to wallow. Through the sobs, I lamented to God about God. I gave him my “why’s” and “what’s.” Why aren’t You acting? What am I doing wrong? Why do I feel this way? What is the point of all this? I threw these questions in anger. Then, in sadness. Then, in defeat. Finally, in the stillness, God spoke.
I realized that she wasn’t who I thought she was. She wasn’t Tired, she was Discontent. She was the one who’d whisper into my ear that God wasn’t- isn’t enough.
“Yes, God is good- but what about a boyfriend? Think of the cuddles! The affirmation! I mean, wouldn’t it be so nice to have someone think of you like that? For someone to love you like that?”
“Yes, God is good- but what about a clear life path? To know where you’re going? Then, you wouldn’t have to worry! I mean, wouldn’t it be so nice to not be so anxious all the time? To feel happy for a change?”
“Yes, God is good- but what about a talent? Oh, just imagine if you were musically gifted. Or book smart! You could be in a band! You’d actually like school! Your parents would be proud of you. I mean, wouldn’t it be so nice to have your parents be proud of you? To approve of you?”
Want after want, longing after longing. They begin to weigh on my being. And so, I mourn. I mourn because “blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matt. 5:4). I grieve over the desired romances, journeys, gifts, connections. I lay them at His feet. I press my tear-stained cheeks deeper into His chest. I allow Him to console me. I turn to the generous One who gives “peace of mind and heart” (John 14:27). I lean against the tender-hearted Mother who is “near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18). I sit with the understanding Friend who gets it, who knows what it’s like to be “denied” (Luke 22:62), to be “betrayed” (Matt. 27:3), to be knee-deep in sorrow and confusion, crying “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46).
“24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me” (John 12:24-26 ).
The Kingdom of Heaven is here. It is now. We enter it by our “yes.” I believe that we won’t begin to know, to live this Kingdom until we believe that it is true. That it is complete. That it will satisfy. That it will be enough. Friends, rest in Jesus is contentment in Jesus. And, truth be told, if God can’t fill us then that lover, that career, that other, doesn’t stand half a chance.
Practice contentment with me. For the remainder of lent, be mindful of your words. May they not be complaints or wishes, but gratitude. Be conscious of your prayers. May they not be requests or condemnations, but praises. Through this intentional spirit of rest, I pray that the heaviness of envy and disturbance is lifted from our hearts. I pray that we would see, experience and believe Jesus in a way that we have yet to.
Love you all, my friends- my family.