Simplicity, Sabbath, Kon Mari, Minimalism, Balance…being in the creative industry, primarily in the blogging world, I hear these words a lot. Oh, you too? I’m not surprised. From the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up to Capsule Wardrobes, to Documentaries…there seems to be an incessant hunt for slowness. Here’s the thing, simplicity and rest are not trends; they are absolute necessities for our survival.
There are many, many opinions and how-to’s on creating space to rest. You can go through all your clothes and throw away whatever doesn’t spark joy (the Kon Mari Method) and download the latest productivity apps (I’m totally into MinimaLIST right now), but unless we get to the root of our busyness and constant waves of rush, we will never fully enter into rest.
My husband is a worship pastor, we have two children under two, and three in school. I work freelance as a writer, teaching workshops and coaching for blogs and non-profits. His job can take him anywhere from one to ten nights a month, and leaves me alone on the weekends, and mine takes consistent creative juice-flow while wiping high chairs and scrubbing cherrios off the floor (ok, you can’t actually scrub cherrios, but you get the concept, right?)…and, in between all of this, we are called to rest. Yes. Called to rest. Let’s eliminate the buzzword balance and replace it with dance. It is absolutely necessary for us to find the dance, the harmony, between work, and rest, because, if we do not learn to rest well, we cannot impact the world with our work.
Instead of telling you a list of things you must do, eliminate, or check to create a rhythm of rest in your life, here are some tools I’ve learned as I journey through our chaotic, creative, and beautiful life:
Stop putting pressure on yourself to rest. This totally debunks the purpose of it. We get so tangled in knots about making sure we’re resting that we are stressed about getting rest (huh?). Instead, lay out what your ideal routine looks like, then lay out what your survival routine looks like. You will experience both in your life, and it can be a consistent, and, dare I say, beautiful ebb and flow between the two as you navigate through life. Everyday will not be ideal. In fact, most days will not be ideal. Most days, especially those with little people in their care, will be sheer chaos. It’s how we journey through those days that count.
Light a Candle. I am, however, a huge fan of the Sabbath, and believe it’s something we’re called to do. I believe Sabbath and day offs are two different beasts to tackle; that one is for oil changes and raking leaves, and the other is for pausing and letting life happen around you, while you completely let go of your daily agenda, responsibilities, and worries to worship. How we do this is, come Sunday afternoon, after the busiest time of week for us (remember, pastor family), we light a candle to initiate the end of busy and the beginning of Sabbath. I make the same meal in the crockpot every single Sunday, I clean the house deeply so that come Sunday night and Monday morning I can breathe and be present with my family without noticing the crumbs on the floor, I delete social media from my phone and have our kids turn off their devices and put them in a drawer. We shut down, gathering around the table with a candle resting in the middle, and play the question game, then gather in the living room for board games or reading, or just being quiet, but present, together.
Create quiet hours. One thing we love to do, and don’t do nearly enough, are quiet hours. I have carried this false belief for years that I must be able to do anything, everything, always. No matter how crazy the kids are, or how insane my husband’s ministry is, or how close my work deadlines are, I thought I needed to roll with it to show how strong I am. The reality is, rest reveals strength. I had to come to terms with the fact that I need set, sacred spaces of total silence, or I will lose my (insert appropriate emoji here). We decided to implement quiet hours with our kids after realizing (one) we hate screens and (two) kids hate life without screens. We believe in the power of boredom, and that creativity can spring from giving ourselves, and our loved ones, spaces without forced stimulation. So, in our ideal schedule, we have an hour a day of no screens and of total quiet. Sometimes we’ll have some easy music on, and this usually takes place during the toddler’s naptime. Each person is responsible for finding their own silent activity, whether it’s making paper airplanes, reading a book, scrolling through a blog (for me! It’s a rule bend because it’s an important way I experience rest), making a slow, pour over coffee. This is not family play time, this is not time to engage, but rather to step back so we can come together and be fully, fully present with each other when we do choose to reconnect. Our kids have come to love it so much that if we don’t have it for a few days, they actually start to ask for it.
It is absolutely necessary for us to find the dance, the harmony, between work, and rest, because, if we do not learn to rest well, we cannot impact the world with our work.
The truth is, there is no simple formula or perfect way to create rhythms of rest in our lives. There are tools and opinions that can be helpful, but don’t bombard yourself with research in a hunt for the perfect experience. The secret, my secret, is to accept the season of life you are in at the present, and embrace what the dance between work and rest looks like for you today. Recognize your ideal rhythm, and implement a variation of that into your current season. By implementing sacred space to rest, your work will be more impactful and life-giving for not only yourself, but the world you are serving.