Productive Rest

Rest. I always thought that it was a break from productivity.

Silly me, because I know the essential role of rest in physical conditioning. Following a period of challenges to the body, rest allows for the body to respond by increasing oxygen-carrying capacity, bone density, muscle expansion, hypertrophy of individual muscle fibers, and more. Leave out the critical phase of rest, and the body will break down. Include the critical phase of rest, and during that time the body improves to better meet the increased demands that are being placed on it.

Our souls need rest also.

Just like in physical training, the amount of time in the rest phase is important: too little and recovery and expansion is compromised; too much and we lose all that we gained from the pain. Anyone who has stopped running for an extended time knows that starting again is like being a first-time runner. We don’t keep fitness without regularly participating at the level we were at before. We simply lose it. It’s not fair, but it’s reality.

So rest is for a time, not meant to be forever, unless your goal is to be a supreme couch potato. And frankly, that’s not good for your health — count on living less years on this planet if rest is your constant state of being. We don’t want our minds, emotions, and abilities to handle life to shrink either. Why not turn the pains we just went through into gains, to better meet the demands that life is placing on us? Rest for a time, but plan to return to life with the “more” that we just acquired.

Some of us are on the opposite end of the spectrum. We think rest equates to laziness. Rest is wasted time. We think it’s unproductive. We feel guilty resting when tasks are waiting. We feel best the more productive we are. We are wired to be task-oriented. Or perhaps we’ve been unknowingly misled to esteem it.

Reframe rest for the soul as being productive, because it is. During rest we are restored. No, it’s not measurable in the way that the performance of the human body can be, but logic informs us that rest must also be beneficial, even essential, to our inner selves.

Find rest for your souls where you choose. I found mine in the arms our loving Father.

I don’t remember when it first happened, the real but immeasurable and unprovable settling inside his embrace. I do remember that it was on a night when I was distraught, anxious and afraid. I was out of ideas and out of options. I so wanted to be a little girl again, when I remembered finding peace in the arms of my parents. Back when it was socially okay to be helpless and afraid. Back when it was acceptable to cry without knowing why. Back when it was okay to find solace there, and the size of me was little and size of my parents was big.

And there it appeared, that first night, the offering of open arms. The big, strong, broad chest, welcoming me to lay my head there. The arms that surrounded me gently but firmly as soon as I settled inside them. The soothing beat of his heart against my cheek.

Since that first night, I seek those arms regularly. I find I’m settling there even when I’m not distraught, afraid, or anxious. I rest in Him simply because I can. It’s wonderful there. I will never outgrow it, there are no age limitations or requirements that must be met first.

He’s there always, welcoming anyone needing rest. And we all do.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

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