Even before I had kids when I was a super tired college student and then a super tired teacher, I often woke up looking forward to rest later in the day. But now, with two kids breaking up my sleep, I dream about uninterrupted sleep (except I often don’t dream because I’m up so much in the night).
Recently I started doing the Bible study, Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood. It is SO good. In the first section, the author asks us to read some Scriptures and consider our purpose (which is to glorify and enjoy God). Then she asks, “What have you spent your life working toward?”
I used to hate workbook-style questions. They seemed so formulaic. But this one really got to me because I realized that the answer is so clear. Rest.
I never realized my strong desire for rest. I am often working toward a time when most (if not all) of what needs to be done will be done. It’s why during my teaching days, I dreamed of going to Starbucks with a book to read just for fun. All my time then was spent planning and grading, and the idea of taking a book for pleasure was enticing. It would mean I was done—caught up with the work that always eluded me.
As a mom, that’s not my dream. Now I long for a well-managed home where I could play with the kids in perfect cleanliness and have clear, easy plans for meals and time to write too. I long for a smooth, undisrupted rhythm of life.
Sometimes this keeps me from doing more or enjoying more. I will view on out-of-town trip or an extra activity as another thing that prevents us from finding this rhythm. Yet the goal of just resting in this perfectly-crafted home and life eludes me. Every interruption frustrates me—from a toddler who throws a tantrum right when I feel like we have a good plan to a baby who refuses to sleep to even my own lack of energy.
I hate when something disrupts the ordinary days because I feel that if I have enough, I will finally figure it all out. But that’s a lie.
I read Hebrews—about the Israelites whose unbelief kept them from entering God’s rest. But the verses go on to talk about the promise of rest for those who trust in Christ. The seventh day—the day of rest—seems to have continued until the Fall, when Adam and Eve disrupted those glorious days on end of just walking with God (I always think of summer days as a little girl when we went out in the early sunshine and morning dew and played all day).
My heart longs for rest—not necessarily sleep but rest—that day in and day out enjoyment—the work without the thistles. It’s why getting to the woods for uninterrupted time to write seems so appealing to those of us who admire Thoreau.
And ultimately, that’s good! This is a promise God has given us—a future rest when the thistles are gone. But there’s also an aspect of rest now. God has given me rest—I can rest from working for His favor and grace. He gives wisdom freely and is with me even in the thorns and thistles.
And YET the thorns and thistles are still there. I don’t have uninterrupted time to write or clean. I never get done with my work. My brain never feels fully clear or uncluttered. But I can do my work with confidence—even if it’s just folding one load of laundry or writing for a few minutes. An upset toddler is part of my work, as is an over-tired baby.
I’m afraid that the thorns and thistles often keep me from living. But escape is not the answer (nor is it possible). I’m promised future rest—beautiful and perfect.
I often am either enjoying moments so much that it’s painful—I don’t want them to pass—or I’m counting down to the next thing or plotting ways to accomplish what needs to be done. My striving for rest is intense. But I don’t have to live like this. I can find rest and confidence and God and His promises both now and for the future.
His Word is the solution as I strive. I rest from works and yet I strive to do the good work He has given me—it’s a holy challenge. It’s not always easy—today I feel tired as I barely slept last night. But I can still do all my work today with confidence that He is with me even in the thorns and thistles, and He is a God who gives true rest.
P.S. I really liked this short book for encouragement in the daily work that feels like it never ends.