When we find ourselves in the midst of turmoil, crisis and difficulty, we want to quickly find a way out of the anxiety, fear, uncertainty and uncomfortable feelings that hold us captive. We want to be doing something, anything that will take us out of that space.
But sometimes we are asked to do nothing. We are asked to stop struggling; stop running around in circles, stop the frantic thoughts of have to, must and should that exert enormous stress and pressure on us to do something or we will not survive. We are to just STOP.
Years ago, when grieving the loss of my husband, I remember asking God, “What am I supposed to be learning and doing in this valley of tears – this desert of dead dreams and barren futures.” And I heard His quiet by powerful voice say to me, “Rest – you are learning to rest. You are not to do anything or try to make anything happen – just rest.”
I remember thinking, Rest? What does that mean? How can I find rest in the midst of all this turmoil? How am I supposed to find rest when all I want to do is get away as fast as I can from this space and find someplace where I can be happy again?
Since I had asked for and received a directive, I decided I needed to think about rest and what it meant. I knew that when I kept busy the distraction kept my mind diverted so I wouldn’t have to feel my loss. Was that rest?
I thought back over the years. When did I experience rest? As a young housewife my days were filled with juggling schedules of three children, two with special needs, and a husband who worked several jobs. Rest then was a time to quietly finish folding the laundry, do some creative sewing or work in the garden when my children were playing or asleep.
Later, when I went back to school to complete college degrees, the schedules became even more complex and demanding. Rest was those times when I could study for class instead of cleaning the house. Even quick weekend trips away with my husband were often filled with activities giving only temporary reprieve from the pressure of ongoing life and work.
I began to realize that I could make “rest” just another item on my “to do” list, or I could actually rest. I believe what God was trying to tell me during those days when I was coming to grips with my loss, was that I was to just “be”. I wasn’t supposed to do anything. I wasn’t to run away from, ignore, or try to resolve my situation – I was to simply rest in it.
Jesus said, “Come unto me, all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest”. If we bring our heavy bags of pain and troubles to Him we need to put it down and leave it. We stop the resisting, the non-acceptance. We stop the struggling.
Rest is learning that we are still okay within our pain. Rest is allowing ourselves to be in the moment. It is accepting that fact that we might never find all the answers or solutions we want. It doesn’t mean we stop trying to solve problems or look for solutions. It means we are still okay if we don’t find them.
And in that acceptance and rest, we discover peace. In that peace our spirits and hearts are healed.
When I actually allow myself to rest, I can feel God’s spiritual arms around me. I hear His words of reassurance and comfort. When I rest in that peace and comfort, I am letting go of stress, uncertainties, pain, loneliness, anxiety and fear that continues to accumulate when I struggle.
I can sit still, breathe quietly and deeply and feel my body relax. In that spot, I do not need to ask for anything. I do not need to do anything. All I need is to “be” – be quiet, listen, absorb the sights and sounds of the moment, and allow peace to permeate every cell in my body healing all wounds.
©2012 Marlene Anderson, MA, LMHC, NCC