I spent some time this weekend reflecting on the month of September. I like to do this at the end of each month as a sort of rhythm or rule of life. I’ve found reflection to be a powerful tool in my spiritual practices toolbelt that has helped shape and form me as a person more fully alive to the Spirit of Christ.
As I contemplated and allowed memories of September to surface and the feelings those memories stirred, I acknowledged them and allowed myself to be curious. Being curious is one of my core values, next to presence and honesty, and being curious about the realities of life has also vastly influenced my spiritual formation. As I allowed myself time to examine the thoughts, feelings, and circumstances of the last month, I kept coming back to the thought that “I’m just so tired.”
As a practice, I usually take the deepest need I uncover during my time of reflection and allow it to shape my focus for the next month. What is it that God desires me to change or be in order to be formed more fully into the likeness of Christ?
I’ve learned that I can’t do all the things, all the time, in every season, and this simple practice of choosing one focus for the month helps me to avoid striving or growing discouraged. It allows me to be okay with all the ways I’m not and focus on what I can change, or grow toward. It gives me a way to filter the inevitable influx of decisions and ask the question, “Will this move me in the direction I want to go? Is this thing I want to do or say yes to going to help me move toward Jesus’ heart for me or away?”
For October, all I kept hearing was “Just take a nap.” To which, my insides screamed, “But God what do you want me to DO?” We’re currently praying and discerning God’s direction for our family with our next season of ministry, and I couldn’t understand His Word to just take a nap.
Aren’t there relationships I need to cultivate? Aren’t there phone calls you need me to make? Aren’t there books you need me to read? What research do you need me to do? To which every answer was a resounding, “No. You need to rest. Just take a nap.”
One of my goals for this year is to pursue deep creative and physical rest. To some, this might not be a proper goal, but for me it is meaningful. As someone who has spent most of her life striving to be enough, to experience the deep rest of the soul is my heart’s longing. I am tired. I am just so tired. And in this place, I think I’m finally ready to surrender. I think I’m finally at a place of such deep trust in my Heavenly Father that I will just lie down and take a nap this month.
As I was writing these thoughts in my journal yesterday, I couldn’t help but recall my baby’s birth story. Mathias did not come into the world the same way his brothers and sister did. He didn’t fit the pattern. He didn’t play by the same rules. My fourth child came into this world while I napped. Whenever I moved my body, tried to get labor going, or took matters into my own hands in any way, labor would completely and totally stop. However, if I lay down, the contractions would begin again, and eventually, this baby was born from a state of rest. During my entire pregnancy, those were the words I would hear from the Lord as I prayed over my unborn child, “This baby is going to teach you rest.”
Here we are nearly three years later, and I’m again on the cusp of another birthing (not of a child but of something else God is doing), and He’s asking me to simply lie down and rest. Just take a nap. Of course, there are things I need to do this month, but “just take a nap” is what will filter each of my decisions and actions toward doing good work. Is this thing moving me toward rest and trust in Jesus? Or is it me striving, trying to take matters into my own hands? Will this thing physically deplete me or restore my physical strength? If it doesn’t move me toward rest, I will graciously turn away and go lie down. For now, this is what is being asked of me, and to be honest, I’m not really sad about it.
Where do you sense God leading you this month? What are you picking up or putting down?
Resources for developing rhythms of life that minister to the Spirit of Christ in you:
- Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth Haley Barton
- Crafting a Rule of Life by Stephen A. Macchia
- The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel
- The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer