Busyness vs. Rest

I’m one of those people who likes to keep busy. Over the course of my life, I’ve held several jobs at once and as many as four. The reasons to keep working are the same two for most people: debt and bills. Even when my main “job” was homeschooling my daughter, I worked odd jobs and threw pots in my ceramics studio. Most days I worked from 8 or 9 am to 8 or 9 pm. I was always chasing the “more”.  More money, more work, more coffee. Even though I was no longer in debt, my income rode the Sine wave of feast or famine.

In an ill-fated 2nd marriage, when my income was no longer primary, I spent my days learning about the craft of writing in hopes of making that full-time. The spring before my daughter graduated high school, I went back to the workforce fulltime while writing in all my spare minutes. Years later, when I was finally able to step away from the employer scenario, my work habits were atrociously out of balance. Because the time writing outstripped the financial benefit, I often worked nights, weekends and holidays. I was always on, always working or looking for the next writing job. Suddenly, everywhere I looked, people were talking about burnout. “You can burn out doing what you love…” one article started. It made me think about my trajectory. How long did I think I could possibly continue at this pace?

Have you ever seen a child that desperately needed a nap? Interestingly, we don’t have to train children to fight sleep, resist napping or sitting still. This is all things we naturally struggle against. In spite of the fact that it is the best thing for their growing bodies, children delay sleep as long as possible, until their little bodies just drop like a call in a dead zone. Some of us are much like those children. As adults, we have figured out how to—however temporarily—circumvent rest. We tank up on high voltage coffee, sugar or energy drinks, and power through. Many more of us work too-long hours with no breaks, and forgo sleep.

 “He makes me to lie down in green pastures…” is a verse in Tehillim 23:2 and sounds like the words of a reluctant child whose parent insists that he rest. If I wanted to last for the long haul, then balance was going to have to be more important than busyness. Rest more important than remuneration.

I began noticing that those super busy folks around me were suffering with fibromyalgia, heart problems, aches and pains, gastrointestinal ailments, gall bladder flare-ups and other mysterious pain issues. Coincidence? My own life felt frantic and on the edge of collapse and undergirded with the feeling that I was forgetting something. I read an article about time affluence and started thinking that busyness really isn’t where it’s at. (See Forbes link at the bottom of this page.)

Knowing how much sleep I needed to function may have saved me. Still, was I pressing my luck? I’d failed to cut my hours when I launched my business. And, as if on cue, because my attention was now on it, the work faucet began dripping instead of gushing. I made exactly enough to pay my bills and not a dime more. I couldn’t help thinking something bigger than me was behind it. All the signs pointed to rest, but I struggled with the very idea of it. A simple principle kept coming to mind so I looked it up.

And Elohim barak (blessed) the seventh day and made it qodesh (holy), because on it He rested from all his work which He had made. ~ Bereshith 2:3

I couldn’t remember the last time I had allowed myself to rest, nor could I say with any conviction that it had ever been my practice to do so. But maybe I had to rethink this hamster-wheel of endless working. Shemot 20:8-11 Elohim is very clear: we are commanded to rest. What would my life look like if I did this? Would I fall behind on my work?

What does this mean for you?

You may be among the wise few who plans to have time away from work. In our culture, it can feel like a badge of honor to say “I’ve been so busy” instead of “I finally got the rest I needed!” We can get away with bad habits for so long and then we pay, most often with our health. Additionally we miss out on time with family and friends. A day of reflection is good for the soul. It allows us to disconnect from the frenetic pace and re-evaluate what’s important. We might be surprised to discover how refreshing it is once we try it.

One day a week, from sundown to sundown the computer gets unplugged. No email, no internet. I participate in no work-related activities, spend no money, and don’t go shopping. I’m chilling with a book, taking in a spiritual teaching, or prone with a pillow. I purposely don’t even think about work.

The outcome has surprised me. My work load has increased considerably, and I’m able to accomplish in six days, more than I could in seven. I don’t feel overwhelmed. There’s more time for family, friends and fun. I have peace and health. I draw strength from and fellowship with those who find this important to their lives as well.

Where do you fall on the spectrum? How important is weekly rest to you? How would you evaluate your health? Maybe you’re working two or more jobs. Are you able to give yourself 24 hours to unplug and refresh?

In the comment box below, take a moment to weigh in on this conversation. I’m curious to hear your perspective. How do you relax? Do you relax? Did the Forbes Article impact you in any way?

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