by Jennifer Osborn
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
I’m one of those types of people that fights the notion of a being defined as either an introvert or an extrovert. Can there be a term called “middlevert”?
I love being around people of the same passion, who push me to the place of discovery and inspiration. When those moments happen, I am screaming inside “those are my peeps!” Like-minded folks reaffirm the path and calling God has put me on and actually fuels me to devise new ways of applying myself. There is nothing like it.
But I also find that if I’m around people too much, I become moody and frustrated. I need my alone time, or rather my “me” time to methodically unravel, to paint and write and play as it were. I know my play times are really about processing creativity. Introspection is a happy place for me.
The thing about passions -- whether you process them alone or with others -- is that if the fire of that burns too long without being fed, it will become a destructive force. Visionaries, parents, entrepreneurs, and creatives tend to push beyond the normal human boundaries because of their love of what they are building.
I know when I stop working on those things that I love, I wrestle with guilt as a result. The nagging voice in my head tells me at 9:00 at night, I can get one more thing done, or send out one more email. Mind you, these are about things I love. Well, okay, there are a few things I don’t actually love, but need to be done.
But am I being spiritually healthy?
I know that answer before I even ask it. It’s a resounding “no”.
While I play with the notion of being a middlevert, what I’ve come to understand is that the times of alone to play and rest are exactly what God calls us to for our well being. We are not called to run head long into non-stop work with no rest even when we love it. I see leaders who are heralded and praised for their drive to push to take more ground without regrouping or “restocking” the supplies of self or in others who are below them.
Resting feels contrary to the intuitive nature for more.
It’s much like taking a toy from a toddler who is falling asleep while playing with it. You slowly try to extricate it from their grasp while they doze off, only to find they jerk awake and cry with anxiety at the removal. But you have the perspective to know they need to sleep.
When we see the examples of Jesus, he was constantly going off by himself, away from the crowds and resting and connecting with God. When he worked, it was powerful, and when he rested he operated from the very command to stop.
I know I’m learning that lesson. But I also realize the very real struggle that surrounds me from the external forces that I keep going -- that I add one more hour of work, that I answer one more email, that I actually blur the lines of start and stop.
I sacrifice sleep.
I blow past set boundaries.
I succumb to the demand for more around me.
But God is calling me to rest. Not just calling me, but commanding me. Isn’t it an interesting thing that the call to rest was so important it was an actual command and not a suggestion? To paraphrase God, “You might really work hard six days, but that seventh day is a day in which I want you to put down your toy and rest.” God had to command us to do it because in our very human nature that drives us to accomplish more and more we wouldn’t stop until we collapse.
So what is your toy that you refuse to let down? Is it your job? The demands from your boss? Your kid’s overbooked schedules? The new business you are trying to start? Whatever it is it can either rule you or you will rule it.
I’m committed to disappoint a few people in order to refresh. I want to be found right in the center of God’s rest as he has commanded me to do. As a leader, I want to model that to those under my watch as well.
So today, I challenge you to start making hard lines of “rest” for yourself in your hectic schedules.
Take time to journal what is it that drives you to the point of no rest. Ask the Holy Spirit into that conversation and begin to build your boundaries of stop and start.
Join me in being an middlevert. :)
Jennifer Osborn is the director of communications for My 31 Sisters, Founder of Conversations of Hope, artist and teacher. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @jenosborn89.