Restless at times.
These are some adjectives I would use to describe my days. Some are filled with me constantly over-extending my mind and body to the point of collapse. While others don a more carefree manner in which I find myself hammocking, driving to see the sunset, with the spontaneous stargazing excursion here and there, and the like. I prefer the latter, but in all honesty I’m not sure I would find so much satisfaction in the days filled with unscheduled adventures and rest without the former.
For class last week, I read an article called The Disease of Being Busy (attached at the bottom). It discusses this idea that we are created to be human beings, not human doings. So often we busy ourselves and adopt the mandate that says it’s ok to push ourselves and consume our hearts with a hurriedness so that we can quickly get from point A to point B in order to move onto the next thing and we don’t even realize we are drowning. We check things off our lists, we are quick to formulate responses without hearing the questions, and we don’t think to take in our surroundings as we walk from here to there. When someone asks how I am doing, my predisposition says to answer with what I am doing or what I have done that day. My answer hinges on my external circumstances that I allow to define my day and my heart. Well…that person didn’t ask what I was doing, they asked how I was. Oh…
We live in a world that is rapidly expanding and yet, we are scarcely finding ourselves in deep, enriching relationships with our fellow humans. Why are they so hard to come by? I will be the first to admit I have not emerged unscathed from this existence. I continuously find myself trapped in it, only recognizing my fixated state once I reach a point of complete exhaustion and burn-out. That’s never a fun place to find myself.
My spring break mission trip to New York taught me many things to which I am always open to grabbing coffee or a blanket to lay out on in order to dive in depth about. A crucial point towards the end was our discussion on the Sabbath, which biblically refers to a day set aside for worship and rest for God. The Bible holds that Creation was formed in six days (relatively speaking), while the Seventh day was consecrated and set apart, holy for God. Christianity expresses the great need for this Sabbath, because it is built into our human design to feel complete and whole in the presence of God, knowing and being known by Him. With this in mind, one Sabbath may look entirely different from someone else’s. Rather than envisioning a Sabbath day as rigid with regulations and rules, it is quite the opposite. Rest is about establishing a pattern, not following guidelines or blueprints. It is created to establish rhythm, not be legalistic in nature. Our society teaches us that the Sabbath does not fit into our schedules, however we should not work to rest well, but rather we must rest to do work well.
The Sabbath also teaches that we do not have to do anything to become right with God – Genesis 1 & 2 hold that when Adam and Eve were created, they had not even done anything when God declared “This is good.” Similarly, we as human beings do not have to do anything to be “good.” Does this sound similar to the idea of human beings, rather than human doings? I hope so! Resting is a form of worship – of being in communion with God. Its essence involves loosening our tight grip on control and surrendering to trust. It’s about eliminating busyness, slowing down, and spending time in silence and listening. It should be life-giving.
To quote the article “What happened to a world in which we can sit with the people we love so much and have slow conversations about the state of our heart and soul, conversations that slowly unfold, conversations with pregnant pauses and silences that we are in no rush to fill?” Many conversations that have transpired this week with friends and family members have guided me towards this idea of creating margin in my life. Establishing buffer zones and breathing space. Cutting down on my involvement in things. Leaving room to be still and to listen and to be able to give of myself what I have received through rest.
I encourage you to a state of vulnerability and honestly within yourself as you read these words. Our academics, our organizations, our work, our extracurriculars – they can be good. But once you find yourself in an inflexible position of over-extension and over commitment, these turn from life-giving to life-sucking things. I won’t pretend they are easy lines to navigate, by any means. But I hope to provoke thoughts and meaningful discussion on the subject to which you find yourself asking where can I create margin in my life?
I am not defined by my works, but rather am a work defined by my Creator.
Not I do.
“I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye, touch one another, and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing? I am taking the time to reflect on my own existence; I am in touch enough with my own heart and soul to know how I fare, and I know how to express the state of my heart.”