The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
Having survived my first two weeks as a mom to a 3 year old and newborn, I’ve discovered a few things about rest.
Rest has looked a bit different these days, but not in the way you might think. Most hear “newborn baby” and picture parents with bags under their eyes, milk-stained shirts and a question of how long ago their last shower was. Mike and I definitely identified with this stereotype on round one of having a newborn.
But this time around, we’ve been gifted with a little one who basically sleeps all. the. time. As in, I frequently have to wake her up just to eat! (don’t worry, I’m not assuming she will always be this way…just enjoying it while I can!)
Having an exceptionally sleepy baby paired with having a saint of a husband who takes on the bulk of caring for our toddler while my body recuperates from giving birth has allowed me ample time for rest.
And it has allowed me ample time to confirm a suspicion I already had about myself:
I’m not too great at rest.
When given an hour or two with no obligations and a sparse agenda, I so often find myself either squandering it away on mindless entertainment or building a meaningless to-do list of tasks that could really be done another day.
Isn’t ironic that we so often find ourselves counting down the days until the weekend, or our next vacation, or the kids’ bedtime, and then when that oasis arrives, we don’t really know what to do with it?
These pockets of time in our day are prime opportunities to reconnect with Jesus and reorient our perspective to that of the Kingdom.
So as of late, my question has been “why am I not seizing this unique season of rest to pursue Him deeper?”
And the answer he has provided comes down to identity. Honest and authentic rest requires vulnerability—releasing our grip on the masks we so carefully adorn ourselves with throughout our daily mission of living successful, productive lives. When we reach the point in our day or our week where our to-do lists can be retired, we are left to scurry in search of another mask (i.e. social media, zoning out, or just creating yet another to-do list).
Or we can choose to let our naked face be humbled and encounter the face of Jesus, who welcomes us to the place of rest and accepts us without any additional accomplishments required.
This degree of vulnerability can feel foreign and sometimes painful at first, but it allows us to walk into the embrace of the Father who heals and loves and invites us to come to Him… for He will provide rest (Matthew 11:28).
So true rest is found in the grounding of our identity in Christ—allowing ourselves to stand exposed before our God and bathing in his pleasure and acceptance. And the beauty of this rest is that the more we seek it and abide in it, the easier it becomes to enter it as he further refines our identity.
As we happen upon seasons of newfound rest, or choose to intentionally set aside more time for rest, may He grant us the confidence to practice vulnerability and to fully receive the healing, comfort and growth that His rest provides.