Several weeks ago, I had a conversation with my therapist about the topic of rest. I was bemoaning the fact that rest and relaxation have become nonexistent in my life. It’s true that I’m a mom to a young child and that our lives are fairly busy, but to be honest, my days are much less full than nearly everyone I know. My inability to rest has nothing to do with my schedule or life stage, and everything to do with me.
Somewhere between the carefree days of my childhood and now, I’ve forgotten what how to be still, how to have fun, how to relax. Even in my free time, I have a tendency to putter around the house, being “productive” without really getting anything done. In the rare moments when my body is fully still, my mind remains in overdrive. I long for a mental and emotional break that lies just beyond my reach.
As I told this to my therapist and recounted my various failed attempts at achieving that elusive restful state, she asked simply, “have you tried prayer?” I laughed at this at first. Of course I’ve tried prayer. I pray continually, asking God to join me in walking through my daily checklists and to-do’s. Sometimes prayer itself makes its way onto my list, and that task is always marked Complete. But no amount of praying has led to my feeling rested or refreshed.
Later, after leaving my therapist’s office, I thought more about her suggestion. And I realized that, while I’d spent plenty of time praying for rest, I hadn’t spent much time resting in prayer itself. Psalm 91 tells us that whoever dwells with the Lord will rest in His shadow. Simply being in God’s presence provides the restoration and rejuvination our souls seek. The passage goes on to explain that God is our fortress from the fowler’s snare. We all encounter different snares; mine is an overactive mind and an inability to simply be. But the Lord is faithful, and He promises to cover me with His love and protection—to wage battle with my inner demons on my behalf, and to bring rest for my soul.
Summer is generally viewed as a season for relaxation, an annual sabbath in a world that glorifies busy during the other nine months of the year. This summer I’m discovering what rest and relaxation means for me. It might look like letting go of my own expectations for myself, or setting aside times with zero agenda. It might be afternoons with no earbuds or books, just me and God and plenty of empty space. It might mean that my days are busier than usual, but my mind is resting with God. Not analyzing, striving, or cataloguing—just relying on His faithfulness, resting in the protection of His wings.