A Guilt-free Rest
I’m currently sitting on my couch, laptop open, two poems in draft, considering the way I spent my day.
Church was cancelled this morning due to inclement weather, so I tuned in to a couple of services online. Then I thought about all that God has been saying to me lately. Read a bit. Napped. Cooked two meals. Scrolled my timelines on social media. Watched some television. Basically, a bunch of nothing.
Yet here these two poem drafts sit, only a few lines dropped into each. And knowing the full schedule I had last week and the full schedule of the week ahead, I feel guilty about a wasted day (my second in as many weeks).
However, I just recalled something that I read earlier this week on the “40 Things to Give Up for Lent” plan that I have been exploring this Lenten season. The series challenges believers to go beyond giving up certain types of food and to let go of detrimental attitudes and behaviors instead. When I read “Giving Up Overcommitment,” I was struck by the suggestion to take one day this week and not do any work. ‘That’s a great idea,’ I thought. ‘But this week is too busy. I need to get some work done every day.’
Talk about missing the point. I knew that attitude was precisely the reason I needed to take a full day of rest, but knowing better does not always mean doing better. I figured I would schedule my day or rest in a week or two when I had more free time.
God has a way of working things out, including making me realize at 11:00 p.m. that I unintentionally followed the ‘day of rest’ suggestion on this icy Sunday. Perhaps it’s because deep down I know that it’s not lazy to take a day off. It’s not selfish to need time in which you’re not producing something or achieving something or being where people want you to be or doing what you think you should do. It’s okay – necessary, even – to rest.
So why am I, um, writing right now? Well, I told myself I’d finish the poem tomorrow because it requires a little more brain power. I knew this blog post, on the other hand, would be short and sweet. Why not get a quick task out of the way before this week really takes off? It will mean one less worry.
There I go again, missing the point. Even the quick stuff requires some effort and deprives us of rest.
That was made clear earlier this evening as I found myself watching a few minutes of Love and Hip Hop. Yandy was saying how happy she was to be pregnant, but that the timing wasn’t great because she was busy with work and other projects. Her busyness caught up to her and her doctor put her on bed rest. The next thing the audience sees is her man coming home to find her in bed with papers and electronics spread across the covers. She fills him in on the details of her doctor’s visit. He responds with an obvious point that she doesn’t want to hear: the doctor didn’t put her on bed rest so that she could work in the bed. She needed to drop everything and rest.
Why do we have so much trouble resting? Why do feel a need to constantly be doing something? Why are our minds always racing ahead to what we have to do and how we can get ahead of the game? Why can’t we sit and do nothing without feeling guilty about it? How have we as a society decided that relaxation is something reserved for vacation? Is it possible that, if we took time to fully rest, we would be fully reenergized when we finally returned to our work, and therefore able to accomplish more?
Self-care is one of those things that is easy to push to the back burner when life speeds up. We’ll put off devotion, meals, exercise, sleep, and the beauty of doing nothing just to accomplish to-do lists that are too long in the first place. Then we are burnt out and wonder why.
I’m thankful that I ended up resting today despite every intention to be productive. I am not going to feel guilty about what I considered wasted time. My body and spirit knew I needed it even if my brain was too stubborn to admit it. The fact that I drafted this post in the eleventh hour proves I still have room for improvement, but I’ll give myself a small pat on the back for progress.
Good night, y’all. Rest well.
SheryLeigh is a woman who loves God, words, and people. She is currently living and loving as an author, blogger, poet, and spoken word artist in the Washington, D.C., area. A communicator by education and trade, SheryLeigh holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Howard University and a Master of Arts in Management from Webster University.
I am a firm believer in getting the rest we need. I take an annual winter beach trip, so I can get away from the cold and reconnect with the summer chic in me! I also give myself one day a week to “veg”, do nothing, be unproductive, etc. It does a world to keep the stress away!!
Thanks! I definitely need to make it a goal for 2015 to take one day a week to do this!
I smh at the fact that I feel unproductive when I rest. What’s funny is that when you’re burnt out then you actually need more than a day of rest and end up getting nothing done for a lot longer than a day.