Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Realistic Rest

We're all feeling it. "End of term-itis" mixed with the dark evenings and pitch black 'middle of the night' mornings produces feelings of weariness and fatigue. This term has been a long, drawn out one, and now the end is in sight we are all longing for it (even though, on the first day of the holidays I'll be wishing they were back at school). The boys are exhausted and we are having to wake them all up every morning (apart from weekends, when they are as sprightly as the duracell rabbit at 6:30am). They are swinging on a pendulum of extreme grumpiness to extreme hype and hysterical giggling. Even if they can carry on like this, I can't. I cannot bear the walking on eggshells and the screams and cries everytime I leave them on their own in a room together. We are ready for some time off.

It has got me thinking though. Reading the bible with the boys a few days ago, we came across the ten commandments. Oh yes, call me old fashioned, but actually they made alot of sense. To our detriment, our society has slowly and quietly pushed to the side the good things that God introduced, thinking in our 'wisdom' that we could do things better.

Instead, we have produced a culture which doesn't know how to rest. Of course, you can book into a spa for a day, or have a relaxing holiday once a year. By the time we reach that stage, we are always burnt out, exhausted and ready to crumple in a heap. This isn't real rest, this is desperate rest. God's idea was to put rest into our weekly diary, so that we don't actually reach the exhaustion stage. A whole day, each week, where we don't do any work? How can we realistically manage this in our 24 hour society with our children who need constant entertainment, our homes that need constant updating, our emails which require constant reading and our jobs which can take over time at home as well as time at work? I don't have any clever answers, I just know we need it.

Is it possible to have a whole day each week where we live simply? Although this was the historical day, Sundays are no longer sacred with shops closed and families together. Perhaps another day of the week is a better day. Church leaders often choose Mondays for their days of rest, scheduling church activities on Saturdays and forgetting that this is often the day of rest for people who work on weekdays. How do we say 'no' to such honourable activities without feeling that 'rest' is not a good enough excuse? The ideal lifestyle seems to be one that is as packed and busy as possible.

However, this was not God's intention. He wants us to rest. He wants us to schedule rest into our diaries. Not just a 'once in a while' occurance, but every week. He doesn't endorse burn out. He doesn't clap his hands in admiration when we have filled every moment of our diaries with 'good, healthy activities'. He wants us to enjoy guilt-free rest.

As I think about the new year, I am pondering how to put this into my diary. How, with three active boys, do I find a whole day each week in which to rest as a family? How can we make that day more simple? Do we eat more simply on that day? Can I manage not to do any jobs around the house? Will we play games together, go for walks in the country and relax together? For each family, this will look different. But I am becoming more firmly convinced of the necessity and as our lives become even more busy in the year ahead with our new business, we will need to make the time to rest a priority. After all, it's God's idea, not mine.

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