Processing Rest by Sarah Bryan


If you guessed that I would be writing about rest today, you would be right. I’ve learned with time that the more you circle an idea, the better you can understand it. So, I circle. I’ve talked all ready about how rest is an intentional action. We choose rest, setting ourselves to the effort with the same sense of purpose that we set ourselves to work. In order to rest well, however, we must have humility enough to relinquish our need to be in charge of everything. We must open our hands, cast down what we cling to, and receive the ease that comes with true rest. As we grow in our ability to rest, our inner outlooks become better, and we begin to celebrate life with greater freedom and joy. What a wonderful thing!

Those are universal concepts about rest, and they’re great. But how do we approach rest on a practical level? How do we take it from theory to real life reality? First step: deal with the things that keep us from rest.  We may understand that rest requires intentionality and humility, but we can’t practice either until we work through the issues in ourselves that make us afraid of rest.

That’s right, we can be afraid of rest. I know I often am. Rest is beautiful and desirable, but I don’t practice it well because, deep down, I’m a little afraid of it. So, before I can practice rest, I have to get to the root of my fears about rest. All fears are rooted in lies, so I’ve been asking myself some questions to uncover the lies that I believe about rest, busyness, and my need to carry everything on my own:

  1. What do I fear about rest that makes me shy away from it?
  2. What do I believe about busyness that makes it so much more attractive to me than rest?
  3. How did these beliefs develop in me?

Yes, these questions are as fun to answer as they seem. I did my best to give honest, gut instinct answers, and what I found wasn’t always pretty. Fear of failure, fear of waste, and the nagging suspicion that maybe I don’t have what it takes all surfaced. Yuck. The reality of my off-base mindsets isn’t always pretty, but uncovering my messed up thinking is the first step to bringing in the truth. And the truth always bring freedom.

I didn’t stop at just the icky answers, though. That’s just Step One. Step Two is the good part: asking God to help me unravel the lies and replace them with the Truth. And He does. He brings the Truth to replace the lies, and He gives me hope for moving forward. Hope like this:

“Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. . . Learn my ways, and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me.” (Matthew 11:28-29, Passion Translation)

Once we work through the fears, we can start learning how to make rest part of our lives. Here are some questions to help that process:

  1. What are the negative rest influences (i.e., stressors) in my life? How can I minimize these or deal with them in a healthy way?
  2. What are the positive rest influences in my life? How can I embrace and cultivate them more?

Again, Step One is to answer the question. Step Two is to invite God into the process of using your answers to change your outlook and situation. Ask God to help you make rest an active part of your life. He understands all the details of your life, and He can help you loosen the tensions and make room to take more ease.

Now, Step Three: practicing rest. Understanding your issues with rest and inviting God to help you deal with them is great, but it’s meaningless if you don’t start practicing rest in your day-to-day life. Take those answers from Step Two and look for practical ways to apply them. Don’t worry about whether you are practicing the right way; rest comes in as many forms as their are people. I rest by reading, journaling, and doing quiet things by myself. You may rest by going hiking, or going to the movies (my father rests by doing yard work). To each their own, but all must make rest an intentional practice if they want to reap its benefits.

So, here’s my challenge to you: Take some time this week to really consider how you relate to rest. Ask yourself the tough questions, and seek out the true answers. Then, start practicing. Make real time within your real life to practice real rest. I’d love to hear about your process and practice in the comments, or on the Bright Ideas Facebook or Twitter pages. Good luck and good rest!

Sarah HeadshotSarah is the co-founder of Bright Ideas, a designer by trade, and an artist by passionate choice. She was born and raised in South, and delights in sharing Southern culture with anyone who cares to learn. Sarah collects creative hobbies; when she isn’t making art, you can usually find her on the dance floor. Follow her creative adventures on Instagram and Twitter!