By Julia Amting
I love Christmas break. Currently it is 9am, and I am still in my bed, reading and writing some words for you guys. This hasn’t happened in months, and it is so refreshing.
In the past, breaks have always been a much anticipated thing for me, but always kind of a let down. With no schoolwork or any work to do, I always felt a little bit lost, and culpable that I wasn’t spending my time doing something productive. I would still spend most of my time watching movies and reading books that I’d been meaning to read for months, but I would have this underlying and unrestful sense of guilt about it, like I was wasting time. And then going back to school and routine would be a relief.
Maybe this is a common thing, or maybe I’m just the weirdest teenager in the world. I don’t know. But these days of break have shown me the importance of rest. For our bodies, for our minds.
I am a busybody and an extrovert. I love creating things, accomplishing things, and having something to show for it. I love getting to know people and cultivating close relationships. Which is all fair and good, but I have found that these sort of inclinations can become pretty unhealthy if unchecked. These tendencies become destructive when I put my worth into them, when I come to define myself by what I accomplish, by how good my relationships are. I feel like a vacuum, searching for something good to grasp onto, to give me comfort and validation and personality.
I have always had little respect for laziness, doing nothing when there is so much that the world offers you to do. And in this effort to abolish any sense of laziness in me, I exhaust myself, and get mad at myself for doing nothing, for not living up to my potential. Now that I type this out I realize how steep and unrealistic of an expectation that is to set for oneself.
So why then, is it easy to work but hard to rest sometimes? Because it when we rest, when we are by ourselves, that we are truly alone with ourselves, our thoughts, our ugliness. It is just us and God in the stillness, and it’s uncomfortable. If we did indeed find our worth in the activity, then once the activity’s gone, the sense of worth and value has evaporated as well. We are forced then, to look into ourselves, where true prayer is, where the God of Peace exists, waiting for us to find Him, to bring in our vacuums from around us. And it is scary and weird, to be forced to be naked and vulnerable before Him. I have come to see how necessary it is, to be in silence, and just process. Process events, and feelings, and uncertainties to find the root of them. And in the root of them, we will find God. God being there in the good things, or conquering the bad things. This is not the same as overthinking or analyzing things to death. It is letting our thoughts and feelings catch up to us and then offering them to a God who makes everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
True rest does not only have to happen when we simply do nothing. If we allow God to be at our center, our eye of the storm, our peace while the world of to do lists, stress,struggles, and pain whirls around us, we will find rest anywhere. We must refuse to become a part of the storm. St Francis de Sales (my confirmation saint) sums of the imperativeness of this.
“Never be in a hurry, do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”
When I hurry or am stressed, I have a tendency to do things halfway, to not do things well, or experience events to the fullest. I think we all fall into this. We feel it so necessary to get to the next thing as fast as we can that we don’t efficiently accomplish our present occupation. We rush through conversations that could be valuable. We breeze through experiences that could be formative.
Christ says “Come to me all who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) Instead of just staying busy all the time, let us remember to take productive 10 minute breaks from life to just breathe and to just be. It is good to let ourselves do this, because we probably would have spent 10 minutes on social media procrastinating anyways. This can become a spiritual exercise as well. To allow the Lord to rejuvenate us, to speak to us, to prepare us for going out into the world to spread his light. We must, after all, have a strong light of our own before we can share it.
I think this is especially important during Advent as well, a time where preparations for Christmas can easily become overwhelming. Saying that, I hope you all have a rejuvenating, peaceful and joyful last few days of Advent, and a Christmas season full of blessings!
Also, take a second to listen to this song by Audrey Assad. So beautiful, and its lyrics speak so clearly to my soul.
Also, be sure to check out the brand new Instagram page for The Living Tabernacle!