Friday, August 5, 2011

Give me rest

I am not very good at resting.  In fact, I am terrible at it.  Resting in people, in my own company, in God's company: I seem to have lost the knack.

A friend who helped me move recently told me he'd be glad to come help me assemble a piece of furniture this weekend but that he'd also be happy to spend some time NOT assembling furniture or doing anything but sitting and talking, for that matter.  I looked at him blankly, remembered that he's a people person who likes to be social, and wondered if he would mind me unpacking while he talked, or if that would be a problem and he would feel like I wasn't being properly social. 

Now it's true that I'm not really a social person (understatement), but the main reason the idea of just sitting and talking threw me is because it wouldn't involve doing anything, and I just couldn't handle that.  He said he didn't want to think I was just using him for cheap labor, which is understandable since the only times we've interacted outside of singing and a club we belong to have involved moving-related activities, but I just couldn't imagine having someone over and not doing anything when there's so much that I need to do. 

Today, someone else asked with an accusatory, threatening, and motherly gleam, "You're good about taking the time to rest yourself, right?"  I had a moment of guilt and thought, No.  I feel guilty when I'm not doing anything, so guilty that I don't let myself just sit and rest and do something I enjoy because that would be nice and I shouldn't do anything nice if I'm being lazy and not doing the things that need to be done.
The thing is that these tasks don't actually NEED to be done right now.  I mean, no one will die if they aren't completed.  Why this feeling of urgency?  Merely the weight of the number of things on the list? 

Maybe some of it is my growing frustration with how lazy folks in the church are in this country on the whole.  They don't seem to be doing much for others at all that I can see.  Many churches seem more like country clubs where people go to comfort each other in their minor inconveniences and mourn their tiny discomforts.  "I have no energy to do anything except care for my husband and kid."  "God doesn't want me to burn out." "I work full time; how can I possibly have time to volunteer or work in a ministry?"  I don't just hear these phrases; I see them.  It's hard to go to church. 

What logical flaw is this:
  1. They're not doing anything to minister to others because they're selfish and lazy.  
  2. I'm not doing anything to minister to others.  I have an excuse, but maybe they do, too.
  3. I can't just go pointing out the lack in their lives when it's present in mine.  
  4. I must be selfish and lazy, too.
  5. If I'm ever going to confront this problem in my church, I can't be guilty of it myself.
  6. Overcommit!
Or maybe I'm just afraid that if I stop, I won't be able to muster the forward momentum to get moving again.  Let me tell you, once you stop,  it's hard to get started again.  I learned that in physical science class and in the school of life, I guess.

I've been bogged down before.  I've been trapped in a place where I can't do what I want (lack of sleep for years is a killer), so I just block out what I should be doing because I have no energy for it and I don't want to deal with the guilt and thinking about it all it won't make the pain go away and won't make me able to do all that needs to be done.  Avoidance!  Distraction!

When that happens, I feel like I am being lazy.  I am afraid of being lazy, of being seen as lazy.  I am terrified that I will have to try to live with this reduced ability to function for the rest of my life, that I will use this as an excuse to do less than I could.  I'm afraid of my own weakness, afraid that it will lead to getting weaker in some sort of psychological spiral I'm already living physically.  (These are realistic fears.) 

Maybe I'm trying so hard to avoid stopping and confronting that side of myself that I just keep pushing when I shouldn't.  I can't tell any more.  Am I really waiting for some sort of breakdown to serve as an epiphany?  If so, why?  I mean, that's just silly.  I wouldn't let anyone else get away with such harmful self-disrespect (unless they were having their own epiphany).

When did I get to this place where I feel guilty if I stop moving and insufficient if I keep dragging myself on when I shouldn't?  It's not like I feel I'll be punished by an authority; I am an adult living alone, so the only person who can punish me is me.  And that guilt monkey, apparently. 

I wonder why rest = laziness in this messed up head of mine?  I wonder how much of it has to do with the fact that I just have no energy to do things that are good and right and true.  Maybe I feel like using what energy I do have to rest or do something I enjoy is a sort of betrayal of some kind.  But of what?  To whom?

My God is a God who says, "Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."  I want rest so bad, but it's beyond my reach with this chronic-pain related insomnia, and it's been beyond my reach for years. 

I do not call my God false for promising this and not delivering it right here right now.  Rather, I look forward to the rest that is to come, and I enjoy the rest now of knowing that my worth in His eyes is not based on what I do, how much I do, how long my to do or already done list is.  At least, I'm supposed to be enjoying that rest.  I know that's true.  I'm not completely miserable, which I would be if I were trying to prove my worthy by what I did.  So why this unease with ease? 

Maybe I need to attack this head on.  Maybe I need to schedule some time to rest, chores and responsibilities be darned.  I mean, if it's on my list of things to do, it's legitimate, right?  I'll try setting aside a day I force myself to rest and tell that feeling of guilt it's not needed every time it pops up . . .

That doesn't actually sound very restful . . .

Do you feel that guilt when you stop?  What do you do to rest?  How can you tell when you need rest versus when you just want rest.  Is wanting rest laziness?  Any thoughts on all this?

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