Thank you so much for your kind responses to last week's truth-telling letter from me. I received such kindness from many of you who who not only encouraged me to take care of myself but also shared struggles with receiving the same kind of self-care and gift of rest.
Self-care isn't always easy, is it? It isn't always easy to rest when we need it.
In the aftermath of these last few weeks, one of the greatest learnings for me seems to be how life-giving rest is.
After I wrote last week's letter to you, for example, I went to sleep and woke only when my body woke up of its own accord. I think it was 10:30 in the morning when I opened my eyes and stretched rather luxuriously in a bed of quilts and flannel sheets so soft and warm. I padded into the kitchen and poured my mug of coffee, then sat on the couch and read one of my latest favorites for morning reading. (It's Found by Micha Boyett, in case you're curious.)
Then, after that time of rest, I set to work on my work project for about 12 hours.
The next day, I worked 15 hours.
But then on Tuesday morning, with my project deadline looming near, I met with my peer ministry group for two hours. I saw my spiritual director that afternoon. I attended my scheduled session with my therapist the next morning. Kirk and I shared an epic conversation that rounded on three hours of nonstop sharing.
In the midst of it all, I somehow finished editing that crash book project that included 40 pages of source notes. (Chapter 7, by itself, had 192 footnotes to check and verify!)
It's been a crazy time, work-wise, with unique projects just like this one scheduled back to back with each other. But this week retaught me that it's manageable if I incorporate rest.
Meeting with my peer group brings me life. Spiritual direction and counseling care for the ongoing health of my soul. Sleep helps my body rest and my mind recalibrate itself. Reading in the mornings helps my soul breathe and remember itself. Conversations with Kirk feed me like bread.
Each of these moments felt like a sacred trust — trust that God would provide enough time for what needs doing and that tending to my body, mind, heart, and spirit are just as essential fuel for the work as explicit time spent getting work done.
It's hard to trust this sometimes, especially when deadlines loom large and the work — and my inner critic — won't let up their demands. (Perhaps you can relate?) But the question that keeps facing me is: Will I treat myself as a work horse, or will I remember I am a human with limits, in need of care for my mind, heart, body, and soul?
What's more, will I believe God makes enough time?
All week long, I thought about that sabbath command: "Six days you shall do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God" (Ex. 20:9). Given my experience of this past week, I'm wanting to tend to that seventh day of rest even more than before. But I also know we're meant to remember God's care and provision all week long, not just on Sundays. Practicing pockets of rest throughout the week can be just as important too.
Do you want to know what's uncanny to me? When I woke on the morning after my submission of that finished project, I noticed a certain buoyancy of spirit. I was tired but not depleted. I had energy to face the day. I had another project to begin, yes, but I gave myself a recovery day first. And then I was ready to start again.
Rest — whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual — is needed. It keeps us alive in more ways than one. At least, that's what I've been learning this week.
What have you been learning?