Thanks to the band Europe for the post title. (If you don’t know the song, head to YouTube immediately).
Twenty-four inches worth of snow covers my area, with more falling as I type this. Long, fat icicles hang off of the rain gutters. Paths snake this way and that through the drifts in the backyard, blazed by doggy paws. The roads are covered with a thick layer of ice, turning a simple trip to the grocery store into a death-defying event. I am inclined to stay home, curled up under a blanket.
I sense the Spirit stirring within, drawing me to something different. I’m not usually one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I know He’s guiding me to make certain changes. For example: Buy an alarm clock and leave the phone in the living room. (He’s quite specific).
Everything within me responded with, “Oh, yes.”
I’m tired of busy. I’m tired of being constantly connected. I’m tired of not being able to turn off my mind. I appreciate technology (obviously) but I want some space. I want some quiet. Because who cares if I miss a Facebook message? I can answer it tomorrow. What does it matter if I don’t keep up with the Twitter feed? Or see the Instagram post? Or get the text immediately?
For two nights I’ve read a book in bed instead of scrolling through a social media feed. And it’s fantastic.
I need to unplug.
Another thing I know I need to sort out has to do with building up a skin barrier thick enough that a certain person isn’t able to get under it. (No, I’m not referencing my husband). My temper is the long-fused, slow-burning sort. It takes a lot for me to get genuinely angry. In this situation, with this person, the flame is dangerously close to the powder keg.
We’ve all got someone like that in our lives. Someone who just knows how to press all the right buttons. It’s awful. I’m tempted to set aside my pacifism and just get in one good punch. (I’d probably break my hand).
I need mental distance.
In the last twelve months I’ve done more writing than at almost any other point in my adult life. Between this space, guest posts, The Book Project of Which We do Not Speak and my private journal, the words pour out. And I know that I am being gently, painstakingly led to say “no” to some stuff, some good stuff, in order to devote more time to the words.
I need courage.
All of this is wrapped up in a single word: Rest. My life looks nothing like that of those around me – and it’s perfectly fine. In fact, it’s even designed by the One who spoke the universe into being. When I lose sight of that, when I stray into the swamp of keeping up with others or into the desert of comparison, discontentment drops like a hammer.
It’s time to step away. Get quiet. Listen.
So, dear reader, as we mark out the last days of 2015 and step into a fresh year (with no mistakes in it, as Anne Shirley would say), my encouragement to you is this: Rest. If you need a nap, take one. If you need to go to bed earlier, crawl under those covers. If you need to say “no,” do it with firmness and don’t look back. If you need to get out of a toxic relationship, go. Turn off the computer, ignore the phone, catch that episode another time. Remember:
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
– Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)
Don’t pick up what He has not asked you to pick up. Lay down the heavy loads, the worries that keep you up at night. Be you, the you He has made and called you to be (Ephesians 2:10). Most importantly, get your focus off of yourself. Look up. Look around. See what there is to see. Find where He might use you. Because somehow, in doing the work we were designed to do, in letting go of the other, the greatest rest is found.
Let’s leave the old struggles behind. Let’s make the choices we know we can make in His grace and power.
You and me together, walking the road of faith.
Following close behind the Lord.