Rest

I took God up on His offer to rest, wish I hadn’t waited so long.

Let’s take a deep breath and rest.  Rest.  What a loaded word that has been for me.  In the past, someone would say “get some rest” and immediately I’d think I don’t have time.  I did not know how to rest. There was too much to do.  If I don’t do it who will?  Anyone?!  I’d actually get jealous of other people’s free time wondering how they had less to accomplish than I did.  Strong words for such a small idea wouldn’t you say?  Especially when you look at some of it’s synonym’s  like take a break, breather, breathing space, calmness, coffee break, comfort, holiday, leisure, nap, siesta, time off.  Where did that come from, that idea I was so busy I couldn’t rest?  I’d hear my inner voice say: rest is for the weak and lazy, there is too much to do, I don’t have time, just one more thing, then I can sit down.  That is a lot of importance and pressure to put on one’s self.  Does any of this sounds familiar to you?  Be encouraged.

Let’s try that again.  Take a deep breath and rest. Okay that wasn’t so hard.  Some of you may be relieved to know I’ve learned a thing or two about resting and I’m getting better and better at practicing it.

I still struggle to prove to myself how much can I accomplish in a days time.  That’s just it though, what am I trying to prove and to whom?  If my self-worth comes from the things I can accomplish, I’ve set myself up for failure.  This wasn’t something I figured out on my own.  It came from exhaustion of keeping the fast paced schedule for decades.  Raise the kids, keep the house, PTA, church, volunteer, be the perfect spouse, friends, family, holidays, the next move.  Then add in a part-time job.  Oh that was fun and I found out I liked working.  Work full-time?  Sure!  Exciting!  Welcome to 50, now start exercising so you can still feel 30.  Now I’m really laughing at myself.  Sure I feel like 30 in my heart and head,  but I could not keep up with the pace I set for myself.   I kept adding more to do and didn’t take anything away.  It was tiring.

Last spring my Bible study was using Open Your Bible by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams as our guide.  This study is a very practical tool to help women realize that “God’s Word is for them and for now.”  In short, how to open the up the Bible, read it, and meet God in His word.  I’m not new to Bible study.  I’ve been in studies for years and I love it, especially when I’m caught off guard and learn something new about God.

In this particular study there was a lesson about resting in truth.  I knew that the Bible mentions resting in many places.  Exodus 34:21 Work six days but on the seventh day you  rest or Matthew 11:28 Come to me who all who are weary and I will give you rest.   I knew that, in my head anyway.  This was different.  What I was hearing from God; my “ah ha” moment, was God wanted me to let moments of rest lead me to moments with Him.  I was finding my self-worth through my accomplishments.   I didn’t want that.  My worth is based on what God thinks of me and He loved me before I ever came to be.  In that week of study I finally took up God’s offer to rest. I wished hadn’t waited so long.

In quiet moments of rest, God doesn’t have to compete with my busyness.  He can whisper a kind word to share with a stranger or bring up a memory of a sweet time.  In moments of rest He gives me the strength to get up and give it another try, whatever that “it” may be.

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I Am a Runner

It’s about living life with a group of people that lift you up when you need it, about those friends you call family and not only the ones who run with me.

I am a runner.  That always makes me smile when I say those four words.  Yet, I like to call myself that.

Six years ago on my journey of doctor visits to find relief from chronic headaches I didn’t find relief for the headaches, but was diagnosed with Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease (UCTD).  This is a big long name that means somethings wrong is with my autoimmune system, not enough to give it a name anyone has ever heard of but enough to start treatment and a journey to stay healthy.  The best way I can describe the condition is it’s like the light switch of my immune system was turned on to fight something, which is exactly it’s job, but is has never turned off.  Which means, even when I don’t have a cold or some other bug for the immune system to fight, it is up and fighting against my healthy cells and organs. It is such a surprise when you are at the doctor for one thing and they tell you something new. That was an unexpected diagnosis. Now anyone with a medical background that may be reading this and is cringing at my description of this disease, please forgive me, I must dumb it down for myself. It is one of my coping skills.

I was caught off guard by the diagnosis.  What did that mean?  What had I done to myself that caused this?  Hey God, really?  All I was asking for is a cure for headaches and I get this?  No answers just more questions.  Doctors couldn’t attribute my headaches to the UCTD either so that added to my discouragement.  I was prescribed medication but more than that, I was given direction for some lifestyle changes. Change the diet, reduce stress, rest, etc. I was also told to exercise more.  I exercised two days a week, and broke into a sweat sometimes. Wasn’t that enough? What did more really mean? I did not want to do more but it was worth a shot to get some relief from the headaches. Which brings me to calling myself a runner.

Well, more than that, it brings me to tell you about my friends who said they’d exercise with me.  “It will be good for all of us” they said.  What started out as walking five days a week turned into, let’s do a 5k.  “I can’t run a 5K!”  Oh but we did and then some.

This story is really more about my friends than about me calling myself a runner.  It’s about living life with a group of people that lift you up when you need it, about those friends you call family and not only the ones who run with me.  Those friends who know me at my worst and still love me.  It’s a lot like God.   He uses people to show His love to us; how we show God’s love by helping others.  Despite our failures He loves us anyway and calls us to Himself. How will anyone know God if we don’t show His love?  Rm 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

That’s part of the lesson God has given me when my health didn’t live up to my expectations.  Life isn’t to live alone.  What I wanted to keep to myself was easier to bear when my friends came along with me.

Ecc 4: 9-10 Two are better than one because they have a return for their labor; for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.