We live in such a hurried culture. I think the Pandemic slowed us down a bit, but as the holidays approach, it is so easy to overbook and overextend. I just thought I would take a few minutes to share some practical things we do as a family to practice rest…and yes, it is a “practice”. We don’t come by rest naturally. We are constantly striving and proving, and trying. Hence our addiction to busyness and caffeine.
Disclaimer: I am not tooting my own horn here, nor are we perfect at this all of the time. It takes communication. Compromise. Tweaking. It also depends on the season of life you are in. So take a deep breath and realize your life does not need to look like my life. But your life does require rest…so here’s a few ideas:
- Bryant and I both remove social media from our phones in the evenings and on Fridays or Saturdays and anytime we are on an extended vacation. And wow. The difference that has made. You have to know yourself. And speaking for myself here, I know that I am much too nosy and too easily carry other people’s burdens that access to Facebook 24/7 just doesn’t work for me. Instagram makes me feel like I’m falling behind sometimes. Social media can consume my life. We have seriously noticed a difference in our own peaceful existences since we cut back and cut it off in the evenings. I hope this is a safe place cause I’ve also noticed I stay on budget when I cut back on Social Media (mind blown emoji here).
- We say no. A lot. We are a family of six. And we determined before we ever started having children that our marriage and our kids would be our two greatest investments. We do our best not to have any commitments in the evenings. If we have to, we limit it to two a week. Other than that, Bryant is home every evening by dinner time at the latest. We also made the commitment that I would be a stay-at-home mom. So, we have learned to live on less. And it works! Bryant keeps a tight budget where we give, save, and live off of the rest and I am so appreciative (and yes, believe it or not, a budget does contribute to rest)!!! Bryant and I do make time for friends, but we probably wouldn’t be considered social butterflies. We realize this season with our kids is one of the most crucial and so our social lives are mainly consumed with our family and a few close friends. That hasn’t always been the most popular decision, but it has paid off for our marriage and our family.
- We have designated “Rest Days”. Bryant decided a few years ago to start taking Friday off. He feels much more alive and relaxed come Friday than he did taking Monday off. So Friday we just hang. I turn my phone off. Bryant puts his on silent and keeps it in the bedroom the majority of the day. And it is awesome! I am going to tell you, for us, in the beginning, taking a day off was sometimes hard work and a major trust issue. But we know that God mandated this and we have so experienced the benefits of it that we make rest an HUGE priority. And now, it’s second nature! We know that God calls us to work hard and to do our best. Then He comes in and fills the gaps as we rest. It’s awesome! Our family, church, and personal lives benefit and are the proof of what God does when we follow in obedience to this command to rest. It is a chance for us to declare our dependence on God and to remind ourselves that He is ultimately in charge and responsible for whatever He has called us to. It is our way to surrender.\
- We go away together, just the two of us, at least four times a year. This practice has been INCREDIBLE for our marriage! It takes budgeting, saving, and planning. But it is one hundred percent worth it. I hear so many couples bemoan the fact that they have lost themselves and don’t even feel like they friends anymore. That’s because you can get so distracted with kids and busyness that you forget who you were before all of it. We make sure when we go away, we stay away long enough to unwind, have fun, and then miss the kids…so usually 4-5 days. The more often you go, the less amount of time you need to be away. But this has been so fun and healthy for us! We also try to have regular date nights. And if we don’t get out, we spend every evening together just relaxing after the kids go to bed. It is delightful!!! The kids go to bed early so that we can have to unwind and rest.
- Bryant has already scheduled time off for this year. He does this in advance so it happens on purpose and doesn’t get overlooked. He also makes sure he communicates with his assistants his openings for the week. He doesn’t counsel everyone (notice I didn’t say anyone). He doesn’t answer every phone call, text and email he gets at night after he gets home. In fact, he doesn’t even get work emails to his phone. He guards his days off. And that is why he is such a good husband, father, and Pastor. He is not a frazzled, drained mess. He is rested both physically and spiritually so he can care for the family and Church God has entrusted him with. And I know a couple thousand people who are extremely grateful. Something he does do that I just think is awesome is after he preaches on Sunday, he hangs in the worship center so he can meet and talk with people. He also sits in the back during worship before he preaches. I have seen so many grown men walk past him and give him the biggest bear hug ever.
- We make time to get spiritually refreshed. We both spend time reading and try to keep each other accountable with that. We also love attending conferences together and sharing podcasts. Yes, we are nerds. But we realize the importance of staying above the waters spiritually. And so we make that a priority. For me personally, it’s tricky finding the time and the energy, if I’m being honest. But I know my soul craves time with Jesus so whether that’s a prayer time while I’m running or a quick chapter read before bed, I am working on making this a priority.
- We limit our schedules. I am a wife and a mom. Whatever time I have left, I schedule wisely remembering my best has to go to my family. I have said no to other engagements, outings, and hobbies (I mean, that’s extreme – I workout, I write…I just mean I’m not out painting the town). It’s not always easy, but I know it’s best. And I know it’s just a season. I remember that my kids are my greatest contributions to Eternity. I realize that by caring for my husband and making home a safe place, I energize him to reach others with the Gospel. And that is enough for me.
So, those are just a few things. I could add more to the list: Like we both have certain routines at night to help us unplug and unwind, we make everyday errands an adventure, and we constantly try to stay thankful. But the biggest thing I think you need to come away with is this is a lifestyle that will enable you to worship God more consistently and effectively. By saying yes to the right things and no to the excess things, you are actually going to further your influence. So take some time to figure out what your priorities are. If you are a parent, remember your kids are watching. Their lives are being shaped by the decisions you are making. That’s sobering.
Remember, Rest is a trust issue. Are you brave enough to do something about it?