Last weekend we hosted a sweet group of girls for my daughter’s 13th birthday party – a sleepover. As they munched on donuts around the breakfast table, several of them bragged about staying awake until 5:30 in the morning. My girl was so proud of herself, even as her dad and I exchanged sympathetic looks. We knew that we would be punished with exhaustion-fueled poor behavior before the weekend drew to conclusion.
In college, all-nighters were celebrated for constituting the “best party ever” or proving what serious students we were as we prepared for a test or project.
As adults, we tend to prove our worth to ourselves and others by how tired we are. Translation – I am busy therefore I matter. I am tired because I work long hours at my job = I make a lot of money/ take good care of my family/ have an important title. I am tired because I constantly run from one child’s activities to another’s = I am a good parent/ I have talented kids. I am tired because I am constantly volunteering = I am a giving person/ involved parent/ exemplary church member.
In my opinion, “complaining” about how tired or busy we stay is the new humble brag. Somehow our worth gets tangled up with how much we can do. This is so backward from God’s economy. In Genesis chapter 2, God himself set the example for us on resting from work. I don’t for a minute think that our all-powerful God was exhausted after creating the earth and everything in it. I believe he knew we needed guidance to develop an appropriate work/rest balance. In Hebrews 4 we are given these instructions, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” v. 9-11 From this passage, we can only conclude that being perpetually over-tired is not just deleterious to our health and well-being, it’s disobedient to our Creator and Sustainer.
My new friend Traci Michele recently wrote a piece called “Quiet Enough to Hear Him Speak”. I would encourage you to read it here. She stopped me dead in my tracks today with this thought, “What if God’s dream for you and I is to be ordinarily beautiful and unseen.” What if all of our striving is for naught. What if no one ever calls me brilliant or gifted? What if no one is ever impressed with my parenting. What if no one outside my little circle knows my name? What if I never make much money? What if no one ever reads another word I write? Would it be ok if it meant a deep, abiding relationship with my Savior?
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Rest. Light and easy burdens. Sounds sooooo great. But do we really want that if it means we no longer fit our culture’s description of success? Psalm 37:7 commands us to “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” But it’s easier said than done. “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves.” Psalm 127:2
When I allow myself the time to just “be” with my Father – to sit in quiet with Him, to rest in His Word – I actually hear from Him. The intimacy of truly being in communion with Him is intoxicating. It fills me so differently and so much more completely than the days I quickly rattle off a prayer and read a devotion before rushing to the next task. His presence is what I need. To sit in quiet and stillness. To use a pen and paper to journal my thoughts and prayers. To doodle and color scripture verses and let my mind wander to Him. To meditate on a single verse or passage. To look at commentary for deeper meaning. These are the things that matter. These things are life-giving. But we have to make the rest of our world stop moving long enough to relish the relationship and the benefit. It’s sooooo worth it.
“The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'” Exodus 33:14
I am joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday community for our weekly writing adventure. To learn about Five Minute Friday, click here. This week’s prompt is, “Tired”.