Our Problem with Rest

I’ve been thinking a lot about rest lately.

Mostly I think it’s because I’ve been really tired. More tired than usual, I would say. I’ve been trying to figure out why that is. I mean, I am super busy but … aren’t we all?

I’ve got a full-time job, a family, extracurricular activities that I do with and for the kids, and a side-hustle I’m trying to get off the ground. But is any of that special? I mean, we are all doing so many things to try to move ahead, aren’t we?

In an attempt to figure out what is going on with me, I feel like I stumbled upon something that is pretty revelational. You may or may not have heard this before. I’d be willing to bet that the concept I’m about to share is not new.

It is important though. So over the next few weeks I’m going to be talking about one fundamental problem I see and some ways I think we can take back what has been stolen from us. I may also throw a few other related issues in there along the way … you know, just for fun. We’ll have to see where this leads. Anyway, here we go.

The Problem

We’ve gotten rest all wrong.

I mean, we really have gotten rest all wrong. There are many little problems that I see but the main fundamental problem we have is that we don’t understand even the idea of rest. When it comes to the rest, we have no idea what we’re talking about.

Here’s what I mean: We think that rest is something that comes after we’ve worked hard. We think rest is something that has to be earned. But that’s the wrong way to think about it. It’s a mentality toward rest that is unbalanced, and I’d be willing to bet it’s one of the main causes of the majority of burnout in our lives.

Our culture (at least in America) teaches us to work hard and then play (or rest) hard. That’s backward. I’m all for working hard, but by working hard as of first importance we create an energy deficit. By the time we’ve finished working hard the need to rest is so bad that it’s basically impossible to catch up. As those of you that have tried “catching up“ can testify, is a losing battle.

A good biblical financial lesson works well here.

“The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.”

— Proverbs 22:7

We borrow energy we don’t have to do the things we need to do. Each and every moment of each and every day we are creating energy debt. As any of us who have had debt know, we have to pay it back at some point. Usually with interest. Now, interest is sneaky. Most lenders are upfront about it, but because we want whatever it is that we’re financing right now, we’re willing to pay extra for it over time.

We do the same with our energy. We want to finish this project or go to this thing. We tell ourselves that we need to work harder and more and not stop. So we put ourselves into energy bondage. We trap ourselves in a cycle of debt. We have to then figure out how to pay back the loan on the energy we’ve borrowed. For most of us, all we can afford is the minimum payments. We go and go and go and somehow think that a week at Disney in the summer is going to get us through the remainder of the year. We kill it all week long and think a 36-hour Netflix binge is going to give us the rest we need to make it through another week. Sadly, it doesn’t and we just slip further and further behind on our energy payments.

The result? Burnout.

A study done by Project: Time Off found that more than half of American workers they studied left vacation time unused in 2015 because their heavy workload made them feel they didn’t have time to take off. And a CareerBuilder survey found that 61% of people — 3 in 5 — say they are burned out in their jobs.

Scary Mommy blog (This Is Why So Many Of Us Are Suffering From Burnout)

We don’t know how to rest, friends. We’ve lost the skills necessary. Or … maybe more realistically, we’ve let them be stolen from us. It’s time we took them back.

Next week we’ll talk about what rest is (and isn’t) and maybe start laying out some possible solutions to our unrest. I hope to see you then!

April 12, 2019