Erin E. McEndree
Don’t be deceived in 2023. See it differently.
Is rest one of the things you long for in 2023? Is your mind racing with work responsibilities and tasks at home? Are you trying to figure out how to put in more 'self-care'? Are you planning to exercise? Do you strive to pray more or read more? Do you want to fit in a walk in solitude? Well, I want to help you see 2023 differently.
I believe that REST has nothing to do with how much activity you have going on at work, home or in your mind. Rest does not have to accompany quiet, walking in the woods, a bubble bath or a sleeping baby. You can rest at work, getting dinner ready, in the car pick up line at school and in the committee. Rest does not have to depend on your work load, your location, your list to check off or that long moment when no one needs you.
Rest is like joy in the sense that we talk about joy even in trials. 2 Corinthians 8:2 says, "In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity." You can also have rest even in the busy, in the trials and in the chaos. James 1:2-3 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."
Rest can be achieved in any situation when you relax and find contentment regardless of circumstances.
Proverbs 19:23, "The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble."
How can you be untouched by trouble?
We are called to imitate Jesus. He is humble and gentle and learning those characteristics would serve us well. Matthew 11:29 says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
Learn the art of humility. That means you are considerate of other's perspective. It means not getting offended when others express something you don't agree with. Oh how peaceful it is when you do not allow yourself to get offended. It destroys any power they may have over you. It is the ability to relax while someone is passionately telling you why you are wrong or why you should believe what they believe. It is having confidence in what you believe regardless of any outside pressure. We want to fit in and be validated and accepted so much, but being humble in disagreement lavishes peace and contentment over your spirit and rest for your soul. Jesus took this to the extreme and was humble when being beaten, spit on and nailed.
Learn the art of being gentle. This means you are not harsh or violent. You can be kind in any circumstance. But don't think being gentle means being a doormat or pushover. Actually the opposite. Being gentle in overbearing situations is actually the sign of a mature person who can show self-control. Being gentle when every fiber of your being wants to lash out is actually stronger and harder than giving into the explosive behavior. Think of it this way: It's more impressive that a bomb does not go off after the fuse has been lit because it does not happen often. It's like lighting a bottle rocket, running away in anticipation and nothing happens. It was a dud. The situation is totally defused and unimpressive.
Being at rest is easy when you are at the beach, on the porch swing or on vacation, but more impressive is finding rest during disagreement, disrespect, disappointment and discouragement.
I challenge you to pre-plan your responses by writing down a list of your most challenging situations and people. Then, write how you will react, respond and the words you will use that are humble and gentle. When you learn to act counter-culture, counter your feelings, you will truly find out what it means to be free; free of fret, free of regret and free of grudges. And that allows you to rest, relax and be content in a world that is nothing but the opposite.