My days blurred together when my first child was born, and the first month of her life was one of the single most difficult months of mine. It required coming to the end of myself in so many ways and in ways I had never experienced before. Those painful feedings throughout the night mixed with the desire to impress my husband with a spotless house, folded laundry, a home-cooked meal, and otherwise left me drained and exhausted. I lived under the false pretense that I could have it all together if everything was all together around me, but instead I suffered burn-out.
I truly wanted to bring joy and rest to my husband, my firstborn, and myself. Instead, my offering became a burden and my attitude became negative. Emotions swirled around me and my husband received the brunt as soon as he made it through the door. Every evening showed my ugly self in some form-the tears, the rants, the throwing myself on the couch, and I'll just leave you with those few details. It was a full on temper-tantrum. Life as I knew it had changed by bringing new life into the world and the change couldn't be described in any amount of words or emotions.
In full attempts to give my best, I gave my worst.
Oh friends, how I wish I would've taken the message so often repeated by loved ones for a season they remembered all too well. "Make sure you rest." Our greatest offering comes when we have allowed ourselves to rest. God himself rested on the seventh day for the greatest offering of all: creation. Yet, I failed to nap when the baby napped because of my running list meant to bring joy and rest.
Our second child later, and we've recently left the newborn phase again. What a difference it has made to carve out intentional time for resting! As soon as my toddler went down for a nap, I fed our baby and then settled in for a nap myself. Dishes piled high, toys spewed on the floor, and laundry sat in the closet. Those things would have to wait. When my husband returned from work, he either brought dinner home or made dinner for us. Afterward, he washed the dishes with our oldest while I fed the baby, and never once with complaint. I have tears in my eyes as I unfold the beauty of a man who cares for his wife, who loves her without conditions, and who rises to the occasion to offer rest to the one he is one with, the one his soul loves, tenderly cared for as though he were caring for himself (Eph 5: 25-30). Difficult moments occurred, of course, but we were much less stressed and able to enjoy the first month with our sweet second, all because of a little rest and a few tasks left untouched.
So how do we bring joy and rest to others? First, we recognize the joy in our own lives and we give ourselves time to rest. After that, we ask ourselves how we might bless a friend, a coworker, or a stranger, and we do the thing that brings them the joy and rest that we all need.
Before you take on the next task in your day, here are some verses to remind you that it's okay to rest. In fact, if you are feeling a bit burned out, I recommend that you forfeit from trying to bring joy and rest to others and carve out a little time to rest yourself. God rested. Jesus offered rest. This rest is critical in every season, especially the ones that bring you to the end of yourself. And now, the scripture as promised on my Facebook video yesterday:
Genesis 2:2-3: God rested on the seventh day and sanctified the day of rest.
Genesis 8:9: A beautiful illustration of Noah offering rest and a safe place for the dove just as Jesus offers us.
Ruth 1:9: Naomi prayerfully offering rest for her daughter-in-laws in their future homes.
Psalm 37:7: A reminder to rest in the Lord.
Isaiah 30:15: Rest is critical.
Matthew 11:28-30: Jesus offers us rest with him.
Luke 23:55-56: The women who prepared the spices for Jesus' body rested.
Revelation 4:8: A powerful image of heavenly beasts who never rest because they are continuously worshiping God. That's a hard one to even picture.