Busy Seasons of Rest

I sank down on the sofa. A straight week of working till midnight and rising at five. I was beat.

Everyone has their limitations, but for me, those limitations had passed without my notice. I was in the zone. My brain was engaged and so was my body.

My husband and I just bought a house in much need of cleaning and repairs before we could even move in. We worked and worked without the regular concern for ourselves.

It felt good to work hard and see so much accomplished. I had energy and excitement in what I was doing. I slept very little, but also very hard. It was an adventure.

We moved in and so began a whirlwind of unpacking boxes. I wanted to get life in some version of order so I could be in a good position to begin our slightly delayed school lessons.

Two weeks after we moved in, I jumped into school lessons withe the children. My mind got in gear and sleep eluded me. I had so much to do! Home repairs, meals, laundry, cleaning, and now school… Up at 3 a.m. this time. Days simply were too short to accomplish what had to be done! I felt like life was in a constant state of “catching up.” I desperately needed those four hours every morning before the children woke up. I kept going and going…

This is the virtuous woman right? Rising early to prepare for her household? God would give me strength…

Then my body had enough. My ability to control my emotions plummeted. My nerves were raw. I was becoming unpleasant and unpredictable in nature. My weak nervous system began to groan with the bodily an emotional stress.

One day, I went out to get a paintbrush for a bit of priming in the kitchen, only to discover every paintbrush I had used was a hard, rock. I had neglected to wash them properly a few days earlier, and now they were unusable. Bummed, that another day’s work would be delayed until I could get a new brush, my heart swelled with emotions.

I was tired… and I knew it. Suddenly, that crusty paintbrush became a teacher to my heart. Because I realized, that paintbrush was me.

Just like that paintbrush, I am a tool, a tool that is meant to bring the Master glory as I do what He asks each day. For me, God’s work often includes changing a poopy diapers, scrubbing spots off the carpet, teaching four little hearts about God, kissing the man I love, and embracing an unexpected conversation with the neighbor for an hour.

With constant use, and neglect of basic care, any tool will eventually wear out, rust over, be used up, or fall into disrepair. To be of use, a tool needs to be given rest, cleaning, and attention.

It is important to take regular, consistent time for self maintanance and care. that thought, the word “renewal” is very fitting. Renewal is the replenishing of green and life after the deadness and cold of winter. Renewal is the quiet rest of an injured beast beside a cool stream. Renewal a glass of water that has been drunk dry, being refilled with fresh cool water. Renewal is a rusty, old car being given a tune-up and puttering on the road again. Renewal is a weary traveler falling into a soft bed at a hotel, for a night rest before continuing on his journey. Renewal continues until the journey’s end. Renewal is part of the natural cycle of life… physical and spiritual. Renewal, is fresh, quiet, rest, constant, and replenishing…it is a beautiful word.

Take time for Spiritual Renewal:

Romans 12:1-8 pairs beautifully with the value of spiritual renewal in my life.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

Oh my, what a passage to meditate upon during busy seasons of life! How easy it is to conform to worldly acceptable behaviors as my schedule fills up and stressful, crazy days become regular features in my life. Stress, worry, fear, complaining, exhaustion are truly patterns of a heart that is worn out and not renewed. It is essential that I prioritize time in each day for mental renewal and falling into those wonderful mercies that are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). By taking the time to mentally rest and reboot, my mind is renewed. Honestly, renewing my mind is key to allowing God to work through me daily.

There are many ways to renew spiritually. I find worship and prayer with other believers to be at the top of my list. Quiet time in prayer is wonderful as well. Fasting added to prayer is a very focused way to renew spiritually. Studying Scripture has often filled me with fresh joy and awe of God as well. Sometimes, all I can fit into a day is what I fill my ears with as I go…Biblical teaching, preaching, and worship music are invaluable on days that turn upsidedown.

Take time for physical Renewal:

Sometimes a doctor visit, nutritional supplements or medicine is needed to help a mother be her best. Sometimes a daily bath is necessary to calm nerves and heal a weary body. Sometimes a nap must be a daily priority. During seasons, I have found a cup of chamomile tea essential before bed, in order for a good night sleep to occur. Of course, healthy eating, exercise, and drinking adequate water can help a Mama feel her best as well. I feel it is important to build healthy habits into my day. A savory breakfast is an essential start to my morning. A woman should feel no guilty for giving her body the rest it needs to perform the tasks set before it. However, she should feel guilt if she is unable to perform what God has given her to do because she fails to seek out needed help for her health, eat wholesome food, skip meals, neglect a reasonable bedtime, or as I was at fault…even rising too early! Caring for my body is part of what makes me able to be an effective sacrifice to God’s work through me.

So many women like myself fall into the trap of thinking that self-care is selfish. We neglect needed rest, nutrition, and general maintenance of the tool (our bodies) we have that is made by God, in God’s image and for God’s own glory. Yes, self-care can become idolatry, pride, and selfishness. I have learned to keep in balance my self-care by asking myself, if by doing “______________” will I will be better able to minister and serve my Savior? Often the answer to that question determines my action.

I have learned that in both the busiest, most stressful seasons of life, as well as on the days with a regualar beat, it is easy for the spiritual and physical life to become neglected. For me, the result is attitude, ingrattitude, worry, fear, and lack of focus. I loose my awe of Christ. I loose my purpose in life. I become emotionally and physically raw and needy. In essance, I succumb to being controlled by earthly things instead of the Holy Spirit, and am unable to effectivly and joyfully fullfill my service to God.

Renewal is essential to my journey, and the journey of all Christians. Renewal was even given an entire day of the week in creation! It is essential to both our physical and spiritual well-being, just as it is important to properly use and clean a paintbrush while its services are needed.