A Perfectionist Learning to Rest Well

I have been quiet online the last couple of months because my schedule was so overwhelming – in good and hard ways. Our family grew (two family weddings!), we’ve had to say some really tough goodbyes, and I’ve been soaking in as much family time as I can.

And now I’m sitting here, writing out my schedule for the first week of school next week, and I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

I had hoped I could rest between weddings, enjoy the time away from school, and come back rejuvenated and motivated to get started with my busy routine. It hasn’t happened quite that way. I came home to a long list of things to handle and the pressure to show up when all I really needed was a few nights (or a month…) of extra sleep to make up for the many 4-hour nights that have happened lately.

I’m trying to figure out what it means to rest well when everything around me says there is no time.

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Part of me craves rest. The other part of me craves my busy schedule because it makes me feel important. It makes me feel like I’m doing something, I’m making progress, and my contributions are valued.

Resting gets pushed down on the list until I’ve accomplished everything else first. My schedule needs to slow down before I slow down.

But life is never going to slow down.

I’m probably always going to come back from a vacation more tired than I left (don’t we all?). Taking a break from my email and social media is always going to make me more burned out because there’s so much to take care of when I get back. Pushing important things to the side always makes me more overwhelmed because those things have to be done eventually.

That keeps me from resting.

I seem to keep learning that hard way that taking a break is good. I need to have a little time every once in a while for a few unscheduled hours. But if resting is completely dependent upon not having anything on my to do list, I will never get the rest I need. There will always be something to address, coordinate, or do.

I do rest (sometimes), but I don’t always rest well.

I’m not sure how.

I don’t know what it looks like to have a full schedule and still take a moment to not push myself to check things off the list.

When you’re the kind of 9 to noon Sabbath observer that I am, resting can feel like a foreign concept. By 12:30 on Sunday afternoon, I’m usually back to work, counting down the days until my next break from school, hoping it will finally give me a moment.

Resting feels like a luxury in our society – one that not many people can afford.

But it’s not. Resting is a necessity. The Lord knows we need rest, and He taught us by example.

He spells out clearly that our over-achieving efforts are pointless.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.

(Psalm 127:1-2)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started my week with the overwhelming thought that there are not enough hours to do all that needs done.

But this verse I need to remember. Because I push myself to stretch my time and effort farther, sacrificing rest. And none of it can make a difference because I am not enough.

Yet, He will make the hours adequate, and if I am faithful with using well the time He has given me, I will do all that He wants me to do.

This gives me space to rest. The work will still be there in a moment and the work will still be done in time if the Lord is in this.

So as I start next week with a fresh 60-hour school week, 3 doctor’s appointments, preparing for an event at work, and taking care of so many post-wedding tasks among a lot of other things, resting is at the top of my list.

Making room for quiet moments.

Letting my mind absorb the Truth that the time He has given me will be enough.

Knowing He will help me do everything He has called me to do.

I’m still figuring out what that looks like. I’m still working on putting as much effort and determination in protecting my time to rest as I do in every other project I take on. I’m still finding out how to give myself permission to not do everything, be everything, and always strive for perfection.

In the meantime, He will give strength to accomplish every good thing. He will nudge my heart to put it down for a moment to be still. And know.

He will show me what it means to rest.

He will give me rest.

Am I the only one here? Do you struggle with taking time to rest? What do you do to protect the priority of resting?

7 thoughts on “A Perfectionist Learning to Rest Well

  1. Nora K says:

    Thanks for sharing, it was such a good reminder and encouragement. I’m so forgetful and prone to wander leaving me anxious and burnt out. I’m still learning as well how to trust and lean on Him! Thank you MaryLynn!

  2. Raven Niewoehner says:

    Rest has been on my prayer list the last few months so I am so grateful for your article! So God-led and moving! The Lord has shown me everyday I will, by my nature, assume I need to do a bunch of things I don’t need to do so I pray intentionally over that at the start of the day when I remember. This may be tough to hear but I get more rest by cutting back what I do. Listening to hours of scripture at a time while I work allows me to hear God’s voice in terms of what does NOT need to make my do list. My heart tells me everything needs to be on it lol. Also as Jesus did recognize the Sabbath a general rule for me and my husband is that if we can’t do a 24 h Sabbath then we need to change our schedule. I started resting on Sundays during ivy league and it changed my life-really SAVED my mind. We have been dealing with chronic illness in marriage and our marriage would be sunk without it as well. God be with you all!

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