Amid responsibility, wisdom challenges us to embrace a culture of rest. Matthew: 11:28-30 asks:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
The answer is available, but the implementation of this wisdom proves to be challenging. A simple definition of culture is the way that things are done or operate. Many of us are familiar with “work” culture which functions differently based on the organization, leadership, employees and internal processes. We can each think of a work environment where we were able to engage in the work we love with people we enjoy (or can work with professionally). In an unhealthy culture, the expectations are not humanly possible to complete without burning out. Whether we realize it or not, we all have been affected by culture. Here are a few ideas many of us have been taught:
• To get ahead requires hard-work. Success must be earned and sought after.
• Embracing emotions is a sign of weakness. Instead of being honest about how you feel, it’s okay to mask it.
• Do whatever it takes to get ahead even if it means sacrificing your personal or family time. In the end, it will all pay off.
To go against these norms and to be honest about what we need seems absurd in our culture which celebrates a person who has to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. This month as I acknowledge Mental Health Awareness, I want to focus on the less than obvious ways we can affect our well-being. When we hear the term mental health, some of us feel it is a conversation that only applies to those who “need it” but we all do.
God already knew we would get tired and burned out along the way. Sometimes we are our worst enemies and have schedules full of things that we accept for acceptance. Sometimes we say a quick prayer in the morning and ask God to take charge of our day, and then we find ways to slowly take back control because letting go feels counter-cultural.
If you are tired or worn out? Ask the tough question: why?
• Are there things that are on your to-do list that need to move to your don’t list?
• Is your home or work environment cluttered? Is each day a scavenger hunt and in between trying to find your car keys, your child’s toys, an important paper, or trying to keep up with “stuff” you are exhausted?
• Are you exhausted physically and although you know exercise is good for you, you’re too worn out by the end of your day to take a walk or focus on your fitness? I deal with this one also.
The challenge is that although there is a culture that the world defines as acceptable, God challenges us to do so in His rest. Rest doesn’t mean taking a forever siesta and “waiting” on God to do what you are supposed to do. Rest is ceasing from striving. Instead of trying to be something or someone you are not, you accomplish what God wants you to complete being yourself. We are going to embrace this journey together. Feel free to share it with a friend because we all need to be reminded of this wisdom.
Questions to Consider:
1. Are you tired? Identify the reasons for your fatigue by jotting them down in your journal, your electronic memo pad, or other note-taking tools.
2. What would rest look like for you?