Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rest is not Idleness

Like I said in my last post, I have been feeling fantastic since my February 12th surgery.  However, today, my energy has dipped, and I'm back in bed.  It's okay.  Like I told my best friend on the phone this morning, even when I'm having a bad day post-surgery, it's better than my best day before the surgery.  So, my mind is not despairing.  I'm just trying to listen to my body, to honor it as a way of thanking God for His good gifts, and to treat it gently as I continue to be restored.

A large part of that restoration process is REST (rest-oration).  A few weeks ago, while I was trying to find the balance between activity and rest, I googled something like "how to rest" or "the science of rest" (I can't remember the exact word search).  I came upon this article:

Being the nerd that I am, I ate it up.  My favorite line? 

"In recent years, researchers have explored the idea of rest by looking at the so-called ‘default mode’ network of the brain, a network that is noticeably active when we are resting and focused inward."
(Association for Psychological Science, July 2, 2012)

According to the article, this area of the brain, researchers believe, is the area associated with learning, memory, and socio-emotional functioning (like moral judgment and self-awareness).

In other words, while we rest, this part of ourselves is growing, developing, maturing!  That's pretty amazing.

And it became even more amazing to me when, as I lay here this morning, my mind drifted to what's happening inside my body.  I asked God, "Lord, what are you doing in there?  What's happening inside me while I rest today?"  His response?  "I am healing you."

The staff at my son's school is currently reading a book called Margin by Richard Swenson.  As I read this article and thought about that book (which I have yet to read) and acknowledged God's word to me today, a thought began to form: rest isn't just about sleeping or laying in bed. 

I know that sounds obvious, but you have to remember, I had major surgery six weeks ago.  Up until last week, a lot of my recovery was about sleeping and laying in bed.  But now, as my body gets stronger and my mind can think more clearly, rest needs to look different.  Now, rest is about giving myself margin for reflection, about creating space for Him to work both inside my physical and mental selves.

So, on a day like today when I don't have the energy to drive my daughter to gymnastics, when my husband is, once again, coming to the rescue and struggling to keep all of the balls in the air, when I am doing well to sit up and lift my arms, I am writing.  Why?  Because writing in this space helps bring my mind to a place of rest.  Here, I am reflecting.  Here, there is margin.

Someone else might look at me right now and think, "why aren't you resting?"  But I need to get all those 'someones' out of my head and let my rest take shape as it will, perfectly formed to my needs in this time.  I will make mistakes.  I will do an activity that I think will leave me feeling restored, only to come out on the other side completely depleted.  Conversely, I will choose something I call 'rest' and it will take from me, rather than give back (I think of laying in bed - this is decidedly not restorative at this stage).

Perhaps the answer to "what is rest?" or "what should rest look like?" is "it depends."  It depends on what you need at the time, on where you are in your life, your day, your hour, your minute.  Maybe it is silence in one moment and singing in the next.  Maybe it is walking through the neighborhood one afternoon and taking a nap the next.  The salient point is this: it's about what restores you, what gives you life, what leaves you feeling full and not empty.  And that, ultimately, is about God at work in your life.

For me, no matter what that looks like, it must involve margin, it must include space for reflection.

And for you?  What does rest look like for you?

No comments:

Post a Comment