I know I am not the only one out there who struggles with stress. I am a planner, organizer, champion to do list maker...and this is my personal blessing and curse. I am constantly finding myself being crushed under the weight I place on myself. When changes or unexpected events come my way, I tend to panic and slowly spiral downward into a tragic, emotional mess. This is not a healthy way to live, for myself or for anyone who can relate. So as I have been reflecting on this idea of rest, I am forced to face the enemy of it...stress. I feel as if stress just breeds doubt in the Lord's faithfulness and ability to provide. When I am stressed it is usually because I am wanting control or have lost control...I sink deeper and deeper into my flesh in order to "try harder", "do more", "be better", in attempts to regain control. All the while I am ignoring the authority and control of my gracious Heavenly Father who promises to clothe me as he does the flowers and care for me as he does the birds. These 5 ways to find rest are a result of reflection on one of my biggest struggles.
1. Go outside
I have been learning so much about the role Creation should play in our spiritual lives. It should be something we turn to in order to learn more about Jesus, the Gospel and salvation in the same way we turn to our Bibles. Everything in creation points beyond itself to something deeper. The trees show us the order of the gospel--plant seeds, water, nurture, allow for growth, then drop more seeds and multiply...that is the core of the Gospel. The bird's song reminds us of the Lord's promise to provide. The wind reminds us of the Lord's presence...it all points to him. So go outside, and rest in the Father's world that he has created for us and bring him glory by stopping to delight in that world.
2. Put away the planner/to do list
I love my planner. I love my lists. I get true joy from crossing things off of my lists. Sometimes this really can become oppressive. I can find myself being ruled by or enslaved to these practices. I want to have freedom from my own self inflicted agenda. So I challenge myself and you to set your planner down from time to time, throw away the to do list...and rest.
3. Unplug + Retreat
Ah, this is so hard for me. I love my social media, I love my blog friends...I love the good that can come from the Internet. However, I can often miss the here and the now because of my nose being glued to my iPhone. The other night my phone just randomly cut off and stopped working for a few hours...I was so distraught about it. You could ask my husband, I really was upset. Ben reminded me in the midst of my panic about my phone that it was just a phone...and that this happening was a good reminded to me of what place it needed to hold in my life. So let's unplug from time to time and retreat. Retreating does not have to mean going on a trip somewhere (though it could mean that). Last night, unplugging and retreating for me meant, going to our church's monthly women's gathering, putting my phone away for the whole time, sharing my struggles, burdens and praises with godly women of all ages...and resting in their community and fellowship. It was so good for my soul. So...step back from techno world and live in the right now.
4. Find a hobby
This is huge. My hobbies or passions help me to set aside my anxieties and focus on my gifts. Whether that is crocheting, baking or working on some type of design in Photoshop, my hobbies help me to rest. They help me to remember to praise the Lord for the ways he has gifted me. Most of all they help me to step back from whatever is stealing my peace and rest and to refocus my mind and spirit on something else.
5. Remember the Gospel
This is the most important way to find true, genuine, and lasting rest. The Gospel of Jesus Christ frees us to rest. It tells us that it is not through anything we have done, not one single thing, that allows us to be called a child of God. So running around like a chicken with your head cut off attempting to conquer the world apart from Jesus and his Holy Spirit is like trying to sail across the ocean without a boat...it can't happen. When we separate ourselves from the Gospel and begin sinking into our flesh...we will be stressed. (If I am sounding kinda preachy it's because I am talking to myself. I still have to preach the Gospel to myself DAILY) So let us rest in the victory of Jesus, he has died for our sins, become our ransom, atoned us, and calls us his own. That is a reason to sigh a deep breath of relief. He has accomplished it all! I mean, can I get an amen?
So let's seek rest, and not chase after stress. (poetry? haha) I love this quote that our pastor used on Sunday. Stress is the enemy of clear thinking. I would go a step further and say setting our minds on the things of Jesus will lead to rest and clear thinking.
Happy Wednesday friends! How do you find rest in your life?
P.S. I have added an online address book to my 101 in 1001 list next to #79- Send 50 handwritten notes! I would love to send you some snail mail, happy mail...any kind of mail. The address is totally private and only I can see it! I would love for you to add yours today! Click to add your snail mail address!! :)