How does one give advice on rest when they’re not resting well? Because I’m not resting well. It’s a priority on Sundays, to be sure—though somehow, even on Sundays lately, I’m running late on my daily prayers, dragging myself through them, dreading the work of Monday rather than feeling refreshed and prepared for it. And, just to be clear, I normally love my work.
I’ve been learning more about our human need for rest, discovering different kinds of rest, listening to one after another program offering aid in learning how to rest, and learning which sort of rest works for the person that I am. And to be honest with you, I’m worse at it now than I was when I began.
All those things are nice. They can be good. I can only assume they might work very well for other people. But evidence shows they’re not working for me.
I know this is true of at least some of my friends, as well: the “quest for rest” can become just another task to check off the list, another thing to get done among other daily tasks. I very quickly fall into this mentality of “Well, I rested today, so that’s enough of that.” Or, “I haven’t been resting well, so I’m just going to cram in some rest from 9 to 9:30, and if I rest really hard during that time, I should be set for a few days.”
As I’ve admitted before, I’m bad at this. Like, I’m really, really bad at this. I don’t have a program to offer you. I don’t have a list of skills I’ve developed or tools I can lend. I just have Jesus.
As I write this, I’m sitting in an evening of adoration that almost didn’t happen. I was tired. I was beginning to resent that my parish even offers First Friday adoration. I requested it over a year ago, trying to create more opportunities for people to come to Him to adore Him. Usually, only about two people show up besides the priest or deacon. Always, I’m one of those two. And I was doubting whether this time, this day, this hour of the month was even a good or fruitful time for my parish. I was starting to wonder whether I was just wasting an hour every month, whether it was time to give up or try to schedule for a different day.
At the last minute, I almost asked for a sub to fill in so I could go to Latin Mass with my friends (something we’ve been trying to plan for months). But I showed up, almost late, hoping that maybe my lateness—since I expected to be the only one to show—meant adoration would be called off, and I could go back home.
The doors were locked. And for the first time ever, a bunch of other people showed up, too. They showed up for Him. Because they loved Him. And I was the only one with the phone number of the deacon who’d forgotten he needed to be there.
It wasn’t really me, though. It isn’t. It’s just Jesus. He knows me. He knows how much joy I have in being able to help others come even just one step closer to Him. And He knows that the quickest way into my heart when I want to shut it against the stressors in my life is to remind me to love His little ones, to remind me how much they need Him, to show me how He wants to make me a vessel of that love. And at the same time, I see my own need reflected in them.
That is, most certainly, the thing that’s been missing in most of my attempts at rest—the only thing that’s absolutely necessary. I don’t need an hour at the lake, unless I’ve gone to find Him there. I don’t need a day with family, unless it’s to see Him in them. I don’t need a movie night, unless it’s a time spent resting in the art of filmmaking for the sake of His glory.
I don’t need to just “do” the rest. I need to pray about where, how, why, and when He wants me to rest. In what ways is my soul most desperately thirsting for His love? In what areas has His spring of eternal peace become a desert in my heart? What are those things—maybe even everything—that He wants me to drop, to let go, to walk away from, to make room for Him to find rest in me?
I don’t have answers today. Just Jesus. He is whatever wisdom I could tell you. He is whatever peace I could direct you to find. He is the only place where I can expect to find true rest.
The focus of our theme for this next editorial cycle is being Carried in the Shadow of His Wing. The emphasis is to retreat from the heat of the summer and to rest for a time in Our Lord’s shade before going out for the next part of the mission He’s calling us to. In presenting this theme to the team, I wrote, “When we need a rest from the work He’s sent us to accomplish, He is the shade in which we rest. When we’re suffering in the midst of the daily grind, it is He who guards us from the elements. When we’re uncertain of where to go next, it is He who guides our every step.”
But while in the beginning stages of launching that, it became clear that our team is in need of a time of genuine rest. So in order to take the Holy Spirit’s advice that came through this new theme, we will be taking a break from blogs for the next few weeks. With some exciting things up and coming (stay tuned!), we look forward to this time of rest, so we can come back refreshed and ready for the work the Lord has in store for us.
We’ll be back on Our Lady’s day to celebrate the Assumption, which is thematically fitting, being the day when Mary entered finally, fully, into that eternal rest of heaven. Of course, “rest” when she’s continually interceding for all her children throughout age after age of the Church probably looks a bit different for Mary. But then, I’m not entirely sure I know what real rest is supposed to look like.
I do know, as Our Lady knows, that we can only find true rest in Him. He is our rest. He is our refuge. And to be “Carried in the Shadow of His Wing” is an abiding in rest, where we are continually reminded that we’re doing the Lord’s work, not our own. So I invite you, too, to rest a while in His shade.