It’s been a while. Life has happened and a tree fell on our house, travel occurred, insomnia struck, sickness took over, visitors came, birthdays and milestones passed. It’s been busy and amid all that feels “oh so stressful,” I often tend to revert to my typical coping of buckling down and planning so as to best execute. Tasks and calls, lists and errands, because after all, I must keep going, holding it all together. I lean on efficiency and getting things knocked out to avoid further projected distress. In my head it makes perfect sense. Rest will happen later; for now we have to put our head down, navigate this, and trudge onward.
And so it happened that through a random string of events, I found myself on the other end of the phone with a Catholic priest we will call Father G. Father G is a spiritual director out of state with whom a friend recommended I speak. As I relayed the events of my world he patiently listened and was slow to respond. I liked him already and felt at peace just from his demeanor on the other end even though he was 400 miles away. After I spoke my bit and minimally brought him up to speed on how we got to today, he began to reply in his calm and reassuring tone.
“First Lindsay, you don’t have to navigate anything. You are meant to rest and trust our Savior.”
It washed over me like the warm rays of sun on a cool winter day. The words rolled in my head and echoed through my heart that indeed I didn’t have to navigate things. It felt peaceful. It felt right. It felt holy. Not to mention, it was the second time in a week someone had spoken into my life regarding my need for rest. I felt relief from the list in my head and simply sat with the incredibly inviting idea of rest.
It also felt crazy. And impossible. And idealistic. How could I rest? Who would do all the daily things? It went against my understanding of how to get to and enjoy rest while still doing the necessary practices of life. The things that are good and enjoyable and true to the woman I want to be seemed the only cost I could imagine. I love Jesus, but who was going to make dinners, plan birthday parties, visit family out of state, support friends weddings, the list goes on and on…
And so it is. We each have our status quo, our way of doing things that makes sense and is likely even effective, at least to some degree. When trials come and our typical ways of walking through them don’t work, we often take the approach of doubling down and doing the same adaptive behaviors better, faster, stronger, quicker. It may be working our tails off or avoiding work. It may be constantly entertaining ourselves or denying ourselves pleasure at all. It may be unwisely displaying our messiness or withdrawing into isolation.
What creates the rub however, is when, despite our best efforts and increased determination, the “adaptive” doesn’t work and we can’t return to the status quo.
Rest evaded me all the more as I strived to juggle well all the valuable and important items in my head. I was seeking rest by holding on tighter instead of letting go…and maybe that’s the point. Maybe there in that moment is the invite of Christ into to the storm to rest in the boat with Him rather than shout from above deck trying to navigate it all. When we can no longer embrace the status quo we are freed to try new things, take new risks, and ultimately rest with our Savior.
The status quo can be great but it also has the potential to be stagnant and keep us stuck. Pushing away from this is vulnerable and scary, and the only way to grow. It’s the alternative that remains when our go-to survival skills are maladaptive. I encourage you to challenge your terms, your modes of operation, and your heart. For I believe, it is there, and almost always and only there, that rest can truly be found.
Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC
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