On New Year’s Day, I did something radical:
But wait – isn’t “doing nothing” what you’re supposed to do on January 1st?
This time was different, though.
And maybe, more intentionally than I ever have in my adult life. Or at least, since owning a smartphone.
For the entire day, my computer was turned off. I set my phone on ‘Do not disturb’ and placed it out of sight.
I didn’t cook. Didn’t clean. Or run errands. Or fix my hair.
If it felt or sounded like effort, I simply said, “no thanks.”
I ate breakfast with Chad. Sat on the porch and watched squirrels play in the pines. Read books. Went for a long walk on the nature trail. Breathed deep. Prayed.
And it was one of the longest, best days I can remember having.
This full-stop happened thanks to The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer. It had been on my reading list for awhile and, as often happens, the timing was right.
I’m going to make a prediction:
That will be one of the most important books I’ll read this year.
You see, slowing down, quieting the noise, and making space to be fully present with God and others is hard, sometimes.
My tendency is to go…learn more, create more, check-off a list.
Worry Think about my loved ones. All while checking email, catching up on social media, listening to a podcast, and cleaning the kitchen. Oh, and having lunch with a friend.
(Maybe your list of “go” looks different but I imagine it’s there, always tugging at your sleeve.)
By nature, those things aren’t bad.
But…the endless loop of going, doing, never unplugging…I’ll be brave enough to admit it’s an addiction. And like all addictions, it starts innocently-enough, until it’s not. Deep down, we suspect it’s harmful but struggle to break the cycle.
So, what’s the remedy?
The answer washed over me, once again, as I read Comer’s book:
To take the heavy weight off our shoulders and, instead, carry the easy yoke of Jesus.
To slow down. Rest. Get quiet. Live simply.
If you’re not a Jesus-follower, I hope you’re still hanging with me. It’s not a list of to-do’s but a way of living freer. Lighter. Not striving for perfection but, rather, an invite to give our minds, bodies, and souls what they need, especially when life gets difficult.
How did I feel after a full day of intentional rest?
Too good not to share.
A story you might be familiar with is found in Genesis 2, where God rested after six days of creating the heavens and earth. The seventh day was extra special, the “sabbath”, set apart for rest and worship.
Doesn’t a rhythm of work and rest sound so good? As in, if we model our lives after God, we can intentionally spend a day of life-giving rest, every single week?
My rest-day required planning to make happen, for sure. And again, not perfect. I weeded out a few items from my closet, asking myself if that was rest and not having a strong answer (it felt good, anyway). I forgot to unload the dishwasher ahead of time, so we could just drop dirty dishes inside. And, I replied to a text in the early evening…from my Grandma (I mean, how could I not, especially on New Year’s Day?).
But I believe incorporating regular rest into our schedules is something we can all do. Something we must do, for our own sake, and for our loved ones, too.
By the way, Comer notes how this practice will spill over into the other days of your week.
He’s right. Today I’m still taking it slow, trusting that everything will happen in its own time. My anxiety is down. There’s a pervading sense of calm.
To help quiet the noise, I also removed a few apps from my phone that were distracting (goodbye email, goodbye Messenger!). Better to use them solely on my desktop, where they’re easier to limit.
So, as I continue to plan 2023, I’m blocking off one day each week for rest. Because without a plan to resist it, the gravitational pull into “hurry” is real.
On New Year’s Eve, my sister-in-law, Sara, asked me if I had “set a word for the year”. No, I told her. I hadn’t thought about it. A few seconds later, though, I said, “consistency”.
Yes, consistency is something I’ll be working toward this year, especially with writing. And now, with resting.
I think it will come easier, too, simply by slowing down.