‘Rest is God’s invention.’
I’m quoting myself here – it’s a phrase I’ve used writing articles and in Forgetful Heart. ‘Rest is productive,’ I also like to say. Not a necessary evil, or the default position of doing nothing. Rest has purpose.
In rest we recharge, restore, regain what has got a bit lost and confused.
But it’s more than this, too. Rest teaches us to listen. It also teaches us to be alone with ourselves. Alone with ourselves, and with God.
Rest can be very, very hard. You could accuse me of not practising what I preach, and you’d probably be right. Although I don’t think I have ever claimed to be any good at it.
Regular rest, restorative rest is essential for all of us, and even more so when facing chronic illness or limitation. But when the busyness addiction compels us forward, when an achievement culture drives us on, when actually the last thing we want to do is be alone with ourselves ….
We get so used to noise we don’t know how to deal with the silence.
Sometimes, we need to go cold turkey. I’ve had a cold turkey weekend. The fatigue would not be muted any longer; it was determined to roar at me. Battered into listening to my body, I stopped. Which meant really stopping, curled up in bed allowing the withdrawal symptoms to rage, but too tired to get my busyness ‘fix’ any longer. How can someone with Chronic Fatigue/ME have a busyness fix? Oh, easily. More easily, perhaps, because it’s not so noticeable. My busyness won’t be as busy as yours. My level of activity may seem below par, and it is, compared to ‘normal’ (whatever that is). But for me, it’s been too much.
Too much pushing beyond my natural baseline and in the end my body let out a squall and I was forced to admit: Stop. Before this leads you into that place you don’t want to go. The place that makes you shudder. The place where you need to crawl, not walk, up the stairs and are too tired to stand up in the shower.
So, I stopped. My mind hissed and burbled, initially, but its protests were muted by the raging fatigue. Eventually it slowed as the craving to fill every moment with another distraction eased.
I’m not there yet; I need to take steps to reestablish the rhythm I neglected, to stop pretending I’m not that tired, and allow myself moments of intentional rest.
Will you pray for me? I don’t find this easy at all. Limitations chafe at me, even after my long experience of this illness, which has fluctuated over 20 years. There has been healing; there has been relapse. There has been a kind of ‘bobbing along’ somewhere in between. I have hated being defined by it and therefore try and ignore it. Which sometimes helps, and sometimes doesn’t, depending where I am on that scale. I’m not one of these inspirational bloggers who regularly pours out both honesty and great insight about their illness. I just confess it, every now and then, when it no longer allows my silence.
Ah. This is one of those posts which can’t find an ending. But then, who knows where it ends? The discipline to rest is tiring in itself, initially. And shaking off the ‘guilt’ imposed by a sense of ‘I should be’ is exhausting, too.
But I pray I can learn to rest with intention, and in it find solace, strength and maybe, even, God.