Once upon a time, I didn’t believe God…
A few years back, I had a shoulder surgery and was forced to just chill out and rest awhile. For someone who was used to being busy-busy-busy and using her physical strength to help others, make a living (as a Personal Trainer), and serve her family— that was a serious shock to my system!
Yet God whispered rest to my heart. He wanted me to rest physically, so that my shoulder could heal properly, and He wanted me to rest mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well.
Stop striving, He urged. Just let Me be Me. Rest in the knowledge and the truth that I can handle this world without you for a few weeks, that I love you, and that you are worthy of My love and affection even when you can’t do one darn thing for Me or for anyone else.
And that’s when it hit me: I don’t believe that to be true. I literally didn’t believe that I was worth loving or worth befriending or worth spending time with or worth listening to if I wasn’t constantly giving to others and/or making meals for them and/or helping them in whatever ways I was capable of helping them. To stop and take time to rest and receive from God was unheard of for me. It seemed self-absorbed to take the time to pray for myself or for my own needs. I thought I was being selfish if I felt the strong desire to say no to an invitation because what I really wanted to do was just be by myself and read or hike or write— or even nap, for goodness’ sake! I thought everything was “my responsibility.” I felt obligated as a Christian woman to spend every last ounce of my energy on serving others. I thought that was the “godly” way to live.
I read verses like Ephesians 6:7 and 1 Peter 4:10 and Philippians 2:3-7 and took them to mean that it was my solemn duty to say yes to every “good” opportunity that passed my way. My own giftings, preferences, personality, passions, and time constraints didn’t matter.
Perhaps not surprisingly: I often felt worn out, used up, and unfulfilled.
But then a friend who could see the turmoil I was going through showed me this verse— and something deep inside me sparked to life:
“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength… Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” ~ Isaiah 30:15,18
I read those words and felt a sense of peace and relief that I hadn’t even known was missing. Salvation is a by-product of repenting and resting? Strength is born out of quietness and trust? We are blessed when we wait for God? Could this be true?!?
I got so curious about this concept that I did an entire study on Sabbath Rest and found out how often God spoke of it and how seemingly important it was to God throughout both the Old and New Testaments… and my soul started waking up a bit more.
And then a new sense of hope and clarity began to grow in me when I read Waking the Dead and Quiet and Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus and Good to Great and Finding Spiritual Whitespace and Mere Christianity and the Bible cover to cover… and I began to finally learn and understand that knowing one’s self and taking time for one’s self is actually doing your soul— and thus God!— a great service.
And I found a great counselor to help me work through my warped theology and codependent issues… and everything started clicking. For the first time in my life, I started to really realize that:
- I am, in fact, a finite human with a limited capacity to give.
- I was made in a very specific way on purpose so that I could offer something to the world that only I could offer— and it would behoove both me and the rest of the world if I could hurry up and figure out who I am so that I can step into my niche and serve my purpose.
- It is okay to say no to “good things” and to save my time and energy for the great things God had in store for me.
- Slowing down, stopping and simply receiving all that God has to pour into me is, in fact, very biblical and godly. In Luke 10:42, Jesus said “One thing is necessary.. and Mary [who was avoiding the rush of meal preparation and sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to what He had to say] has chosen the better thing…”
Unplugging from the world and leaving whitespace in my calendar and in my heart for self-discovery and God-connection times to happen is not only necessary, as Jesus said in Luke 10, it is also a huge component of health and wholeness.
When I am giving God my focused attention, fully ready to listen to what He wants to say to me, with eyes wide open to see what He wants to show me, with feet and hands ready to go where He wants me to go and to do what He wants me to do (rather than running around aimlessly trying to be a hero to everyone around me)— I am living the abundant life God wants me to live. And it’s okay if that abundant life is speckled with more pauses than many of the folks around me. It’s not selfish to stop and rest and breathe deep of God throughout my day. It is, in fact, exactly what my God-hungry soul needs.
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What about you?
What have you learned regarding your personal limitations and needs? How do you stop and reconnect with God in the busyness that life inevitably throws at you?
Please share your journey in the comment section below.