Slow down, rest and take care of yourself

Look up. What are the things that fill you up? Time with the Lord? Being outside and looking up at the stars? Talking on the phone with your best friend? Sitting with your family at dinner? Listening to your favorite song on repeat? Talking to your significant other? What are the things that truly fill you up?

Over the past two years at John Brown University, I have learned a few crucial things: Jesus truly is the center of everything, we can do nothing by ourselves, the importance of having our people and, more recently, the undeniable significance of rest. The theologian and philosopher Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” This quote is mesmerizing because it reiterates the need for God to be the deliverer of our true rest. There is no true rest outside of Jesus Christ.

As a Type A, efficiency-driven, determined, Enneagram 2 kind of person, I have to intentionally schedule my rest. Otherwise, it will not happen. Due to my lack of self-care, I discovered that rest was not a necessity in my life until my relationships with God and others began to suffer.

Simply put, rest reminds us that we cannot do it by ourselves. To my Type A friends, rest might look like planning a girl’s night with your housemates or scheduling alone time to take a bike ride. As for my Type B friends, rest might look more spur of the moment, like a late night Braum’s trip with your friends or journaling about your day.

During Fall Break, I had the tremendous opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon. My team of friends and I had four tightly-packed days of adventure planned and I desperately wanted nothing to get in the way. I needed the rest that four days of adventure would offer. The plans were finalized and the bags were packed when disaster hit me. I woke up with a throat-burning, head-pounding, face-hurting, nose-dripping cold. I realized that sometimes what we think is a curse is actually Jesus handing us a blessing. Getting sick was Jesus telling me to slow down and rest. Rest comes in all different forms. How we best rest depends on the season and the person. I ended up going, which was 100 percent worth it, and we took a slower pace to accompany my sickness.

College is exhausting. The reality is that we all have seventeen thousand things we need to do. Make rest one of them. I am not my best self when I am constantly stressed. You are not your best self when you are constantly stressed. The Lord doesn’t want us to be constantly stressed. Do something for yourself by spending time with Him. Rest. This is my challenge to you: look at your schedule. Do you feel excitement or dread? What activities bring you closer to the Lord? Which did you force upon yourself?

One of my favorite poems, “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry, says this:

“When despair for the world grows in met. . . I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds…And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.”

Personally, I have found that when I feel “full” by my schedule, I need less rest. When I feel drained and pulled in a hundred different directions, I need more rest. Find what works for you. Maybe you don’t need to join that fourth CAUSE ministry, third growth group, or apply to be an RA for the third year. Know your limits. If the Lord is asking you to do those things, great. Just understand your intentions before saying “yes” to adding another thing to your schedule.

Psalms 62:1 says, “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.”

Cut yourself some slack, go take a nap, and find what gives your soul rest.

Taryn Maddocks