Have you ever felt like if one more thing lands on your plate you’re going to lose your mind?
That feeling like you are at capacity, all of the margin is gone?
Tolkien’s character Bilbo said it well when he said, “My soul feels thin. Like butter spread over too much bread.”
I know I’ve felt that way. And this is what today’s episode is about.
I’m titling this episode “Rhythms of Rest” and I use that phrase for a reason.
Our lives move at a certain pace, a certain rhythm and cadence. Our culture pushes us to move at a faster and faster pace. It never slows down. At least not without CONSIDERABLE effort.
Pump the Brakes
The world only has a gas pedal, no brakes.
So the pace of our lives just increases until we find ourselves sort of hurtling forward at break neck speed, out of control, and not sure how to slow it all down again.
Of course, the problem with this is that we can’t keep that up. We all have a limited capacity for living like this. Eventually the things that are really important to us begin to suffer. The immediate and urgent things compete with the important things, because quite often the urgent things are NOT the truly important things.
The things you actually want to do with your life take a back seat to the things that everyone else wants to do with your life.
I know this is my story. Being a pastor makes it easy to collect burdens without ever dropping a burden. If I’m not careful I get so loaded down with burdens that I can barely breathe. It can be suffocating if I don’t manage it.
I think there are several reasons for this, many of which we have no control over. Technology and culture have changed so much that the pressure to move faster is enormous. There’s nothing I can do about that. I can’t change the culture. At least not fast enough to do me any good.
But one thing I have found that is effective is paying attention to my rhythms of rest. Just like in music, you need rests. Without rests, without pauses between notes, it isn’t music. It’s just noise.
Rest will convert your life from noise to music.
Daily, weekly, Yearly Rhythms
I suggest breaking your life into sections. Daily, Weekly, and Yearly. Maybe decades as well.
Every day you need some moments of rest where your mind is allowed to wander, your body gets a change of scenery, and your soul gets a breather. So a couple times a day, you put your phone down and take a walk around your building outside. Or maybe instead of going out to lunch with work friends, you go to the park by yourself.
I also suggest getting an hour of rest before going to bed. Give your mind some time to wind down and process the day. Add into this some time in the Bible and prayer, and you can maximise the impact of your rest.
On a weekly rhythm, you need a day off. Maybe Saturdays. Your day off doesn’t need to be spent doing nothing. You can use that time getting caught up on house chores. That’s good for your soul too. But the key to a day off us disengaging from the outside things that compete with the truly important things in your life – like family, friends, and worship.
Do something on your day off that brings you joy and peace. Do something that feeds your soul and guard yourself from things that take from you.
And then for a yearly rhythm, I think everyone needs to get out town once a year. Even if just for a weekend. It’s best to go alone with family or very close friends, but that isn’t always financially possible. Just get out of town where the responsibilities can’t find you for a few days.
This is Hard
This isn’t easy to do. The minute you try to unplug from the machine, the machine fights back. Try to take 5 minutes away from your desk, and your phone will immediately ring. The world doesn’t make room for you to pump the brakes. So the second you try to rest, you put yourself out of rhythm with your surroundings. You become a dissonant sound.
You are like the person driving slowly down the highway when everyone else is speeding.
Living life in the fast lane really stinks. Life in the slow lane is so much better!
So you have to develop some disciplines about not answering your phone, or answering emails and texts during those moments. You have to fight for rest or it won’t happen.
But let’s be honest. We don’t want to rest because rest requires us to depend on God. We have to let go in order to rest. Even for just a moment. You have step away from your desk, step away from your phone, step away from something in order to do this.