"If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit." ~ Banksy
When the twins came home from the hospital and our family ballooned from four to six life changed pretty dramatically. It was my honor and privilege to serve them around the clock. Seriously. I slept on the couch right next to them in their bassinets, their little bodies hooked up to machines to alert us of any breathing irregularities. I got two three-hour sleep cycles every 24-hours and it was enough even though it wasn't. Want to know why? Because I knew that I couldn't do it on my own. I fell asleep praying and woke up praying, I gave God my weariness and crabbiness and my not-enough-ness and just rested in Him.
Then the twins started sleeping through the night and I started sleeping, too. Somehow, this was supposed to be the magic formula for me to start living in my own strength. I loved them with all of my heart and I could handle life serving them. It was just dishes and laundry and homework and shuffling kids around - easy stuff. I could handle it. Round the clock, I could handle it. I was up with the kids at sun up and folding laundry until the middle of the night some nights. And again the next day/night. And the next. Because I loved them. Because I could handle it.
Friends, can I tell you a secret? I can't handle it. You probably already knew that.
Can I tell you an even bigger secret? The things I do I didn't do with love in my heart anymore. I was empty, just a shell. I forgot how to laugh and how to play. It was as if every need my family had was over-drafting the bank account of my soul, which was completely depleted. Even though I was surrounded by people who loved me, a beautiful home and all of the luxuries of suburban living, I was living in poverty. It turns out there is more to me than this physical body that just needs food, water and sleep. Well huh.
I remember sitting on my patio chugging cold coffee (coffee that unintentionally got cold, not iced coffee. There's a difference.) I was trying to muster up the strength to break up one more argument with the kids when I just stopped. I couldn't do it. Not even with the kick in the gut from cold coffee (Oh, I drink coffee now. Having twins will do that to you.) I just stopped and left.
DON'T FREAK OUT. Yes, I left, but I just went to the YMCA down the street. I hadn't been there in years, it was my safe place in college. But it was different now. The layout was different and the machines were different (I suppose that can happen over the course of 15 years.) I couldn't figure out how to work the TV on my machine and the only alternative was to stare at a brick wall while I ran away from my life as fast as the machine would allow me to move. (The irony that I was running towards a brick wall is not lost on me.) So I stared at the brick wall and listened to a podcast to escape my Great Escape.
Spoiler alert: God moment!
The podcast next in my queue was about Sabbath rest. Oh. Come. On!!! Yeah, it was one of the ten commandments and all, but I was responsible for four small children, there was no such thing as a full day off every week no matter how holy of reasons. But Sabbath rest doesn't mean I don't care for my family; it is a time where stop our work, enjoy rest, practice delight and contemplate God. It is deliberate time with God and it can be a part of every day.
God didn't say I have to get to the bottom of my to-do list before I can rest if there happens to be time left. My husband didn't. My kids certainly didn't. I did. I enslaved myself. So once a week or once a day I can post a "No Trespassing" sign on my mental to-do list and just sit with God and enjoy His presence.
Fast forward to another morning on the patio with the cold coffee in hand and kids nearby. This time I'm sitting with Him and enjoying the rest with Him, practicing delight in His creation that is all around me, and contemplating His goodness. It seemed so fast, and to come out of nowhere and everywhere all at the same time...
I was not loving my family. Not really. Not the way love was intended. It was obligation masked as love.
I'm going to give you a minute to read that again. Obligation masked as love. Obligation is slavery. Slavery is death, spiritually speaking. By relying on my own strength and answering to a to-do list that no one created for me other than myself I was dying. And believe me, I felt it in my soul.
So now what? Love. Genuine love. Love is light and love is life-giving. Our Heavenly Father is the only true source and He gives it to us abundantly, all we have to do is ask.
This has changed my world. I mean it. I've been made new.
I can love and really love my family, but I can't do it in my own strength. When I feel that choking feeling, it is a sure sign that I've slipped back onto the obligation treadmill. It means I need to take a moment and rest in Him. It may even mean (gasp) asking someone else for help so I can take a minute. He is always faithful in overflowing my heart when I ask Him earnestly.
I feel so blessed to have received this message from Him, and even more so, to share it with you. Are you resting? I mean really sinking a "No Trespassing" sign in the ground and resting in Him? Are you loving your people or are you dutifully doing your piece out of obligation masked as love at the expense of your soul? Trust Him with this. He is faithful to you and He will give you what you need.
Genesis 2:2-3 The VOICE
So now you see how the Creator swept into being the spangled heavens, the earth, and all their hosts in six days. On the seventh day - with the canvas of the cosmos completed - God paused from His labor and rested. Thus God blessed day seven and made it special - an open time for pause and restoration, a sacred zone of Sabbath-keeping, because God rested from all the work He had done in creation that day.
Matthew 11:28-30 The VOICE
Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Put My yoke upon your shoulders - it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
The Lord's Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. They kingdom come. They will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.