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Finding Rest When We're Stressed

Updated: Sep 16, 2019

God offers us rest when we are stressed. Moms need to give themselves time and permission to rest and recharge physically, spiritually and emotionally.

One of the most common roadblocks I’ve encountered with my clients when we are working on healing is stress. Stress causes physical reactions in our bodies that can thwart healing processes. If you are in a state of chronic stress (which many of us our and don’t even realize it) no matter how many changes we make to the diet and how many supplements you take to support your health, you will only be able to get so far.

Not only does stress affect us physically but it affects the ways we react to and encounter the people around us. It affects our emotions and the way we perceive the world. It affects every aspect of our lives.

Why are we so stressed?

Stress can come in a myriad forms. But one common thread I’ve seen while working with Mom’s is that often stress comes in the form of busyness- from trying to ‘do it all’. Many Moms do not give themselves time (or sometimes permission) to rest and recharge physically, spiritually or emotionally. In order to relieve stress we must find rest.

I understand the allure of busyness - I used to love to be busy. It gave me a sense of accomplishment. Throughout my adult life I’ve constantly tried to squeeze one more thing in. As a Mom it’s looked a little like this: a PTO meeting after work, an extra trip to the store to grab something I ‘needed’, another class or appointment, another work project, a workout at the gym, an outing to the library with the boys, another play date, another after school sport or activity and round and round we go. I’ve worn my busyness as a badge of honor. When friends asked how I was, I would say ‘busy’ and feel proud to tell them all of the things I’ve been doing.

The society that we live in pushes us to keep going and to do more at the expense of our sanity and our health. This is so common for Moms in our culture. We are told we can ‘do it all’. We live in a society that measures our success and worthiness by our accomplishments. When we meet people they want to know what we’ve achieved…Do we have a degree, a family, a job… what have we done? We want to be the Mom that does it all, the best wife, the top student an admirable worker. So we constantly try to fit in more so we can be better by the world’s standards.

There is nothing wrong with doing these things. These are good things that bring fulfillment to our lives. But these activities need to be in balance with rest.

Recently God has been teaching me that busyness can be dangerous. When we fill our lives to the brim with tasks and things to do, we leave no time for rest. Without rest there is no room for God to work in our lives. We become exhausted and stressed. This is hazardous to our health, to our relationships and to our walk with God.

God calls us to rest. In fact, God commands us to rest. In Exodus when God gave Moses the 10 commandments he said …”but the 7th day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work… for in 6 days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.”

Rest is mentioned numerous times throughout the bible.

But why is rest so important? To understand this we must first know what rest means.

My trusted friend ‘Google’ gives us 2 definitions of rest.

The 1st is to cease movement in order to relax, refresh oneself or recover strength. God knows the physical limitations of our bodies. Jesus experienced exhaustion. John 4:6 describes Jesus at Jacob’s well tired and weary from his journey. Without rest our bodies cannot function properly. We have no energy. We become cranky. We don’t have the energy or patience to give the kids extra attention or to spend quality time with our husband or friends. God cannot use us to our full potential when we are exhausted.

The 2nd definition of rest is where the glory of God truly shines in our lives. This definition states that rest is to be placed or supported so as to stay in a specified position.

God wants us placed in a specified position serving his Kingdom and He promises to support us. We all have specific roles as the body of Christ. God has plans to use us in very specific ways. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Jeremiah 29:11 states “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

But, for many of us, God is not able to use us to our full potential because we won’t take the support he offers. We are consumed with worries and anxieties of this world. We are constantly trying to figure our problems out. But we are not supposed to live this way. God wants to give us rest from these burdens! In Matthew 11:28 He says “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I WILL GIVE YOU REST. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gently and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” It is when we give God our burdens and receive his rest that we find peace and joy in the midst of chaos. It is through His rest that we see the unconditional love and amazing power of our savior. When we are resting in God’s love it is then that He can use us in this Kingdom.

As I’ve been studying what the bible says about rest I’ve noticed that sometimes my busyness is an outright refusal to accept God’s rest. Instead of giving my needs, requests and worries to God and resting in his peace and waiting to see what he’ll do, I’m spinning my wheels. I’m busy making moves to fix things or prepare things myself before I even take them to God in prayer. This wastes a lot of time and energy when over and over again I realize if I had just waited for God that things were going to work out according to his plan and timing; and that his plan was much better than my own.

I’ve also realized that sometimes I don’t accept God’s gift of rest because I’ve failed to realize the power of God’s unconditional acceptance through grace. I am worthy because God loves me and Jesus died for me. My worthiness does not come from being society’s version of the best Mom and wife, but from the grace of God. I’ve tried to be a better Mom by running my kids around to endless activities and events. I’ve tried to be a better wife by making sure there is never a dish in the sink or laundry that needs to be folded (and let’s be clear, I did not succeed at this). But the truth is, no matter how many of these tasks I accomplished I didn’t feel satisfied until I found rest in God and realize that my worthiness is in Him. And I’ve found that constantly striving to be get these things done doesn’t actually make me a better Mom and wife… it makes me stressed. And when I’m stressed I don’t have patience to love my family the way God calls me to. I’ve realize that the most important ‘achievement’ is surrendering to God and accepting his rest. It is then, resting in God’s peace that His love shines through me.

Through my journey of finding rest I’ve had to intentionally create space to do the things I find restful. I schedule in devotion time, prayer time, family time, time alone with my husband and free time. (Scheduling in rest may seem to oppose the idea of rest. However, I have found it to be essential to making sure I actually get away from work and the urge to get tasks done). I have to create a balanced schedule, it doesn't just happen.

I’ve learned to enjoy the freedom or not being bogged down with things to do every day all day (don’t get me wrong… I obviously still have things to do. But I pick and choose carefully and balance them with rest.)

I’ve noticed that I'm more patient and kind when I'm not pushing myself to do too much. And I've learned that the best family memories are made on lazy Saturdays at the house.❤

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