When my husband Shawn and I started dating, I asked him what he did on weekends. His response: long runs and long naps.
I laughed out loud.
Did adults really take naps? As an endurance athlete, rest was an important part of his weekly schedule. I had long ago given up on naps. With three active daughters who from the time they were born were never on the same sleep schedule, I had given up all hope of midday rest. It never occurred to me that people actually built this into their regular rhythm.
I figured when Shawn and I got married that he would have to give up his naps. I was wrong. He taught us all how to nap. More importantly, he has given me permission to rest. He has been instrumental in my journey learning to embrace rest not just for my body, but also for my soul.
This spring and summer I’ve been going through a devotional called Whispers of Rest: 40 Days of God’s Love to Revitalize Your Soul by Bonnie Gray. I read Bonnie’s Finding Spiritual Whitespace last year and loved her message. I chose to work my way through this devotional slowly. I picked it up on days I needed that extra whisper of rest. I gave myself permission not to go through it on 40 consecutive days so it wasn’t a chore, but rather a joy. It’s truly like a detox for the soul.
Whispers of Rest helped call me back to intentional rest during this season – a rest that starts in the arms of my loving Father basking in His truth.
Bonnie writes, “We often burn ourselves out trying to serve God, rather than taking care of ourselves – the way God would want, if He were here in person today. Somehow, we’ve learned we don’t deserve rest – until we’ve solved our problems or we’re no longer struggling. It’s the opposite.”
When I read that, I knew Bonnie was speaking right to me. For decades, I have put my own rest as last place on the to-do list. As a mother and in my work, I built a rhythm that was about multitasking, committing to too much, pushing through, and burning the candle at both ends.
The devotional includes some unique elements. In addition to the scripture, devotional, prayer and reflection questions, Bonnie includes a section called Soul Care Trail Notes. This is one of my favorite parts of the book. She includes practical tips and interesting studies to reduce stress and give yourself creative outlets from the everyday busy.
Some examples are studies that show simply listening to nature helps people become less stressed, the benefits of aromatherapy, how hugs improve our mood and how music serves as a powerful therapy to calm anxiety and improve sleep. Rest for me in this season now includes trail running, reading books on the beach while my children play in the waves, and 20-minute power naps as often as possible.
If you are journeying through grief or facing a move, or stepping into a new job, if you are dealing with anxiety or fear, I highly recommend Whispers of Rest. This book will renew your spirit and lead you to embrace your true identity in Christ as the beloved.
The other day my dad and his friend stopped by our house to drop something off. They caught me in the middle of sorting boxes and clothes to give away before our upcoming move. His friend chuckled as he saw me sweating and my girls doing cartwheels through the living room. To him, our house was bustling with activity.
“You must not require as much sleep as normal people,” he laughed.
If it had been even two years ago, I might have quipped back about how particularly adept I was at multitasking or how little I slept. I wore these things like a badge of honor.
Instead I found myself saying these words. “Actually, I rest a lot. That’s what gives me energy to tackle all this.”
I realized how much my mindset has shifted. Rest is vital rather than expendable. Rest is the way my soul breathes. With Bonnie’s help, I now embrace rest as a gateway to God’s presence and my own creativity.
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*Main photo by Rodolfo Sanches Carvalho on Unsplash.com.