At Home with God - Rest
In the beginning God created and then God rested. God considered rest so important that He blessed his day of rest, the seventh day, and declared it holy. For humans, rest is physically, emotionally and spiritually necessary to remain healthy. But how often do we think of rest as holy?
Creating rhythms of rest as individuals and families can be a challenge. Many distractions vie for our attention. Our culture permeates our experiences and tempts us to run at top speed even in our leisure activities.
In the midst of the noise, God still calls us to rest. The Good Shepherd provides green meadows and peaceful streams for us to lie down and be quiet. Can we hear God's invitations? How might we make rest a priority in our family life and enjoy God's blessing in the experience?
During this season of COVID-19 many of our normal activities have been cancelled. We have a natural pause to reflect on our pace and consider how we might include times of rest into our schedules.
Many of us are feeling our tiredness at deeper levels. Our emotional and mental energies are drained from keeping up with the rapid changes in health regulations, school and work requirements, and more. Our awareness of weariness can be an invitation to pay attention to our bodies and souls and respond to our need for rest in new ways.
Here are some opportunities to consider:
- Notice what you and other family members do when you are tired. Maybe you gravitate toward processed or sugary foods to relieve stress or use screen time to pacify boredom. Or perhaps one of you loves a good nap. Reflect on the aftermath of these and other coping choices. Do you and others truly feel more calm and rested over time when you engage in these activities?
- Notice how you might be avoiding true rest. Humans seem to resist the rest they need. Babies fight sleep. Toddlers get hyped up when they are tired. Bedtimes are received like punishments by most kids! Many adults also seem to downplay the idea that they need regular rest to renew their bodies and souls. Pay attention to times when you or other family members are avoiding rest which your bodies, minds or emotions need.
- Establish practices that create a rhythm of rest. Make it a priority to engage in regular activities that restore you. Have some fun with it as a family and talk together about how you feel when the activity is over.
Here are some ideas on how you can include times of rest into your family rhythm.
- Establish regular bedtimes for family members. This is a simple practice that can have great impact on quality of life. Consider adding extra time for sleep or naps during this season of added stress.
- Schedule 30 to 60 minutes each day for family members to engage in an activity of their choice that is restful and quiet--drawing, reading, coloring, listening to soft music, naps or quietly lying down. Avoid screen time in this hour.
You can choose to do these activities in a room together, or in separate corners of your home. At the end of the hour do a short family check-in. Have each family member evaluate their tiredness before and after the activity. Help children notice which activities bring them refreshment.
- Lean into spontaneous opportunities for quiet togetherness. Notice when a family member reaches out for a hug or a cuddle on the couch. Whenever you can, stop what you are doing and enter into the moment. Enjoy the quiet together in the security of your love. Bring your full presence to the experience.
Be aware of God's presence, too. Pay attention to any images that come to your mind or feelings of comfort. Try to be present to the quiet without controlling or manipulating what happens.
The next tool we suggest you put in your toolbox is some kind of small object you can manipulate like a stress ball, a string of beads, a smooth stone, or small soft cloth. For many of us, especially children, being restful is easier if we have something to hold in our hands.
You may choose to put two or three items in your toolbox depending on what different family members prefer.
- Avoid objects that children view as toys.
- Look for objects that fade into the background but help calm the wiggles without becoming a distraction.
- Keep these special items reserved for meeting with God.
Quick Tip: Consider how these tactile tools can be used in a variety of spiritual activities to help family members focus. They could be held during Bible reading or prayer times as well as times of quiet and Scripture mediation. Below you will find sources and simple ways to make these tools.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
He leads me beside peaceful streams.
Psalm 23:1-2 (NLT)
How can we find God in our need for rest?
- Establish a family narrative about rest that honors God's view of it. Rest is not something we "have" to do. It is not a necessary evil. Rest is a gift from God that is blessed and holy. God, himself, gives us an example of resting. We are like God when we rest. God provides us a place to rest--in nature, in our beds, in the quiet, in his presence. Talk about these truths as you go about your day and as they weave into your activities.
- Establish habits of talking with God about your family activities. How many activities can you engage in as a family without sacrificing rest? How do you prioritize activities as a family that take into consideration everyone's needs? Take these questions to God as a family. Look over your calendar during prayer time, considering your opportunities with God. Discern these decisions together with spiritual health in mind.
Here are some links for acquiring and making tools that support rest:
You can get stress balls on-line at Amazon. Here is one example.
Bead strings are a great resource for your toolbox. Consider how you and your family might use the beads to quiet your spirit, gather your thoughts, pray and rest. This video by Kaisa Stenberg-Lee shows you how to make simple strings of sliding beads at home.
Bonus: If you want to think through other areas of self-care at home during this crisis time, this article leads you through an assessment of what your family may need.