Do you feel like you have enough rest? Would you consider yourself “well-rested”? If I’m honest, I’m not sure that I even know what “well-rested” looks like…or feels like.
If rest is something that seems to allude you, something that is either just outside your reach or maybe well beyond your reach, consider this: are you allowing yourself rest? Or do you feel this constant ache to achieve, accomplish, complete, check off the list, finish so much so that you cannot allow yourself to rest?
I was reminded of a scripture verse this week that has always captured my attention and my heart. This verse quiets that track in my head that nags at me to achieve, accomplish, finish and instead reminds me to rest: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus was speaking to a crowd of people that were weary and burdened by the religious rules and legalism of his day. He invited them to come, follow him, and find rest—a rest that they could not find outside of him, a true eternal rest.
In the verse from the book of Matthew, Jesus invites us to come to him to find rest, but did you also know that God commands us to rest? In Exodus 34:21, God spoke to Moses and said, “six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.”
I often find myself too busy to rest. Ever feel that way?
Two years ago, I received a life-changing diagnosis. I sat in a cold, sterile doctor’s office waiting for the doctor to come in. He walked in, made some small talk while he washed his hands and then sat down. As he began to review my lab results, he talked about them as if they were as common to discuss as the weather. Well, in all fairness, discussing test results probably was as common to him as the weather. To me though, hearing cortisone levels, albumin & glucose, and antibody levels were not something I pondered on a regular basis.
He started with the normal levels and I began to wonder, “did he find anything to explain my symptoms?” Without missing a beat, the endocrinologist reported my T3, T4, and TSH levels. These were numbers I had become familiar with a few years ago when a different physician told me that my numbers “weren’t bad enough to treat,” but these were numbers I had since not considered on a daily basis. He went on to state that I had significant hypothyroidism caused by an autoimmune condition that was damaging my thyroid. He would have continued right on to his recommendations and dosing if I would not have stopped him. I had an autoimmune disease?! My body was attacking itself? Shouldn’t we do something about that? Can’t we sound the alarm and tell my body that my thyroid gland was not the enemy?
He seemed almost taken-aback why I was so upset that my body had turned against itself. His attempt at reassurance was by stating this was very common and moved on into treatment; however, I was not re-assured. My mind was spinning. Since this day, my thyroid story has taken many twists and turns. I now have moved from confusion and chaos to a time of clarity and healing.
I share my thyroid story for a number of reason. I remember the early days following my diagnosis and feeling very alone and afraid that I’d never feel any different. In addition to feeling alone and afraid, I felt exhausted. Fatigue is one of the primary symptoms of hypothyroidism. This explained only part of my exhaustion. The other part of my fatigue was that I never felt like I could give myself the permission to rest. Yes, I slept. But did I rest? Did my mind rest? No. The tape played on in my head “achieve, accomplish, complete, check off the list, finish.”
“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:1-2)
In the past two years as I’ve been learning more about my body, I’ve also become more in tune with my body and its needs. In the midst of my busyness, I’ve begun to gain a sense of when I am running myself thin. I’ve started to learn more when I need to rest, and most importantly I’m learning how to give myself permission to rest. On those days when the track in my head gets louder and louder, I remind myself that even God “rested from all his work.”
"We're a culture of weary people. And a significant part of our weariness is not because modern life is 'so busy,' but because we have forgotten or never learned how to rest." This article by Barbara and Dennis Rainey provides some great tips for how bring back what the Lord calls “the Sabbath,” which is a day a rest.
Take some time this week to read the article linked above and then spends some time in prayer asking God to quiet your heart and mind so that you may find rest. Having difficulty giving yourself permission to rest? Bring this before God in prayer and trust that He will begin to change your heart and teach you how to rest.
You are worth more than mediocre. You are worth exceptional health!
Caitlyn J. Hanson
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any illnesses or disease. Please always check with your doctor before beginning any new nutritional or fitness program or before making any nutritional/fitness changes.