Rest Is Not Laziness

When I think about “lazy” summer days, my mind imagines the gentle rock of the hammock, the cool breeze off the water, the shade of the trees peppered with tidy shafts of light sifting through the leaves, the warmth of the sun and relief of the occasional cumulous cloud. But, is it really “lazy” or is it rest – much-needed rest?

My husband has been known to say I’m “haunted,” meaning I can’t sit still for too long or I begin to feel guilty about being idle. I have to DO something, I fidget, I sort socks, I fold, I read the news, or tidy up. If I’m not doing something, I feel guilty. On bed rest with my last child, I was incorrigible. I just couldn’t do it. I worked too long, I pushed too hard. I had to do stuff – anything, or I felt like I would lose my mind. She was born a month early, even after all my efforts.

There is a chapter book of scars written on my body, I’ve had stitches more times than I can count on two hands. I’ve been to physical therapy countless times in my life, and since I always prided myself on being strong, I know how to push my limits. Often, I’ve pushed too hard – do irreparable damage and have had to pay the consequences.

This past week I pushed again. For 17 years leading up to my accident, I volunteered at VBS (Vacation Bible School) I have taught children to sing songs, do motions, and rallied the masses to spirited renditions of VBS songs. I loved every minute of it. Looking out at two to three hundred staff and campers singing at the top of their lungs – excited about the message was thrilling. After my accident, it took me more than a year to be able to even look at sheet music again. I was broken-hearted at not being able to help.  The movement of all of those people was too much for my brain to handle. But, at the urging of my neuropsychologist, I tried to do something that was part of my old life.

I hadn’t signed up to volunteer – I didn’t want anyone relying on me if I had to bail. I didn’t sign up where my heart was – I picked the least busy post – a post where I could hide if I needed – I asked to help with snacks in the kitchen. I started out hopeful on Kick-off Saturday but was discouraged about 1/2 hour in. I was already feeling the effects – my brain was overloaded.

I tried again Monday and then had to change activities to attempt to manage. There was too much movement of staff and campers in, out, and around – my head was spinning. Fortunately, there was a counselor’s baby that needed minding, and that would mean I could close the door to the nursery and calm my brain. As the week progressed, I tried to push a little more each day, and while I managed – it was utterly exhausting. I watched the motions through the window for a minute or two at a time. I walked around with her when things got quiet. And when the business got to be too much, I sat in the rocker with her, bottle in hand, and hummed the songs I wished I were teaching to the children in the sanctuary.

It was only four hours – it shouldn’t have been too much, but it was. Beyond having to sleep for hours afterward each day of the week – I’ve been dizzy and exhausted every day since. I want to try to do my normal daily activities – but I’m shot. So now I have to rest. I am struggling against feeling like a lazy bum, a failure as a parent, provider, and person. And still, I know I have to rest. It may take me a week – two weeks – or a month to stabilize my brain again to go back to the activities I had worked up to before and, right now, the task seems impossible. Thank God I don’t have to rely on me.

For me,

it IS impossible.

For God,

ALL things are possible.

God knows the importance of rest – after all – the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath Mark 2:27. He modeled rest for us at the very beginning – resting on the seventh day (Gen 2:2&3). He grants sleep to those He loves Psalm 127:2. Best of all, He tells us to give Him our burdens so that we may rest Matthew 11:28.

I can not heal myself – it is impossible. I can only try to do the best I can with what God has given me: whether that is insurance for treatments, books or the internet for knowledge about the best way to help my brain heal, or a hammock in my backyard for rest. Thankfully, it’s not up to me.

Mark 10:27 With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.

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