A few months ago, I heard someone say, “You can either choose to rest or you will be forced to rest. You’ll rest either way.” I have rolled those words around and around in my mind.
It seems silly now, but I had never considered this reality before. Of course it’s true: I can choose to take breaks, breathe, and rest–or I will eventually begin to crumble physically, emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually, and I will be forced to take breaks, breathe, and rest.
The past six weeks have been a little chosen rest and a lot of forced rest for me. The majority of 2018 was overwhelmingly positive, full of growth and lessons learned in every area of my life. However, the end of the year was incredibly difficult for a variety of reasons. October, November, and December wore me out all the way around.
A season of forced rest
Because Riley takes off for the end of December and beginning of January each year, I had planned on closing my Etsy shop and lightening my work load for that period of time as well. As it turned out, I wouldn’t make it to my scheduled, chosen rest date. By mid-December, I was a mess.
Anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, and struggling, I just…fell apart. My eye was twitching (a symptom that shows up when I’m overly stressed), my stomach was in knots, I wasn’t sleeping, I was battling anxiety every day–you know, an all-out mess. It was then that I realized that I had to take a break because my going-going-going was negatively affecting me so profoundly. And so, I was forced to rest.
Shortly after my period of “forced rest” began, three days before Christmas, I pulled my neck out. The pain was excruciating. Riley had to help me do everything. The forced rest continued.
Christmas came and went. It was relaxing and lovely.
Then, Riley got sick. More forced rest for the two of us. All of our Christmas break plans went out the window, and we lounged on the couch watching movies in front of the fire instead.
On the first day that Riley felt back to himself, I came down with something too. Back to the couch we went. More forced rest.
The gift of rest
There were, of course, a few moments over the past few weeks when I was frustrated by my utter lack of productivity and, when I was hurting and sick, my inability to even choose to be productive.
But I was reminded that, in fact, rest is a gift.
We simply were not created to go nonstop. Like the dailies, the necessity of rest is a precious reminder of our humanity, of our fragility, of the gift of life. People who are alive need to rest sometimes. Doesn’t that make you exhale?
I’m grateful for both chosen rest and forced rest. I truly do my best to schedule breaks as a part of my daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly rhythms. I strive to live a life as slow-paced as possible. Sometimes I fail at this, and that’s when my internal warning lights begin to signal.
Instead of resenting my occasionally anxious mind and weary body, I’m trying to work on being thankful for both. They are not-so-gentle warnings to take a step back, reminders that I’m alive, and that people who are alive need to rest.
Standing here at the very beginning of the year, assessing all of the months to come, I am both surprised and pleased to say that I am walking into this year with a sound mind and healing body. A month ago I was so overwhelmed and undone that being in this place felt impossible. But, as always, God met me in my mess and guided me back to solid ground.
I genuinely look forward to the days that will comprise 2019. I look forward to the joy and love and laughter, the hard conversations, the honest, shaky moments, the new friendships, the big decisions, the moments of confusion, the growth in my faith journey–all of it. Because it’ll all add up to another year of precious life, of learning, of growing, of becoming me.
There will surely be both chosen and forced rest in this new year, just as there has been every year. Although I much prefer chosen rest because it can tuck nearly into my schedule, I welcome the forced rest too. I’m going to rest either way.
// Have you ever walked through a season of “forced rest?” What did you learn through it? How do you choose rest as a part of your life’s rhythm?
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Taylor Whitsell says
This post was so well timed for the season of life that I am in! I am currently in a season of life where I am constantly going and have found that it is difficult for me to rest without feeling guilty. But over the past month or so, I have had several experiences that have forced me to rest and have really been digging into how necessary rest truly is. Thank you for such a well timed and thoughtful reminder!
Blair Lamb says
Thanks for reading and commenting, Taylor. I hope you find some time for good rest in the coming weeks. xo
I have been thinking on this very subject for the last few days as I struggle to get back to “real life” after the break of the holidays. Thanks for putting the sentiment to words. So glad you are feeling better. ❤️
Blair Lamb says
Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Emma. xo
I used to be gracious to myself with rest. Then kids happened. There seemed to be no time for rest because my oldest stopped napping at 3 months old (seriously) and I was working full-time by the time my youngest was 2 months old. Last year I watched the movie “Bad Moms” and Kristen Bell’s character wishes to get hospitalized (but only for something minor) so she can get rest – which is ridiculous because hospitals bug you every 2 hours. But it’s the same idea. Too many of us do not make time for rest or recreation. As someone who works from home, it’s so easy to pretend to rest while you are actually working – to write from bed, for instance. It’s a privilege and 21st century/first-world complaint, sure, but it isn’t rest. It’s still work, just horizontal. Last year I made an effort to work in time each week for my own rest and started planning opportunities for recreation for my family (hello, Disney World!). It’s still not as much as I need, or as much as my husband gets, or as much I had before kids, but it is a start and it has helped.
Blair Lamb says
“It’s still work, just horizontal.” YES. Good for you for starting to find great ways to add rest into your busy life. Thanks for sharing, Jennifer.
This has always been one of the hardest things for me. Much like you, I’m more of a “go go go”-person. I tend to feel guilty when I’ve not been “productive” for too long. It’s still a struggle for me, and often I need the people around me to warn me that I might be overdoing it again. But slowly, I am trying to change my mindset, so that taking “rest” and “re-sourcing” is also something productive, something that I can allow myself to do…
Blair Lamb says
The productivity monster is so real. I’m working on changing my mindset, too. Thanks for reading!
Taylor Binnix says
Thanks, as always, for your honesty, Blair. Such a good reminder.
Also, I read this article recently, a good reminder that we’re not alone when we experience burnout, and how our culture has created a generation in us where forced rest is perceived as our only reprieve. Interesting! https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/annehelenpetersen/millennials-burnout-generation-debt-work.
Blair Lamb says
What an interesting article. Thanks so much for sharing, Taylor!
Ashley at Armadillo Bulldog says
This resonates with me so much! I had a period of near burn-out (ok, let’s be real, I was definitely burnt-out…) this past Autumn. I was short on sleep and on patience and just falling apart all around. It took someone saying the same thing to me about needing to rest before I actually set aside some time to just slow down. The week long break was just enough to get me through until the holidays, where I was conscious of how much time I spent “celebrating” versus “recuperating”. I’m glad to hear that you are similarly revitalized and ready to take on the year ahead!
Blair Lamb says
Thanks so much for reading, Ashley. Let’s do this 2019!
This resonated with me a lot. I am in a season of forced rest myself at the moment. This year was wonderful but also full of challenges. My boyfriend and I got engaged, my dog got very sick, I was planning a wedding, my job became much more stressful and much less enjoyable; it was a year of highs and lows as it always is. Through all of this I had very little chosen rest and towards the end of the year I completely crumbled physically. I was sick for 2 months back to back with various relatively minor illnesses (colds, strep, etc) and then just as new new year started (while I was on my bachelorette party trip) my chronic illness flared up and I’m now out of remission for the first time in years – it may take months for me to achieve remission again. But in a way I am grateful for this forced rest, I need to be kinder to myself and my body, I should choose and plan rest, and I have been reminded of that. As you said, I will rest either way.
Blair Lamb says
Thank you so much for sharing some of your story, Erin. I’m so sorry to hear that the chaos of last year ended up with you feeling unwell. I’ve been there (recently ;)), and I know how overwhelming and exhausting it is. It’s wonderful to hear that you’ve turned such a challenging time into a lesson learned. Well done you! Thanks again for sharing. Sending love.
This is so true, and speaks to me so much! I’m definitely the person who goes non stop until I can’t anymore. I don’t know where 2018 went (planning a wedding and getting married will do that to you), and have tried to slow down in general. I’m trying to make time for myself each night and started a challenge to journal every day this year in hopes to slow down! Thank you Blair for reminding me how important it is to take time to rest, and I’m happy your are feeling better now!
I’m so glad you’re doing better. On more than one occasion I have had my body crash on me which forced me to slow down for awhile and take time to relax. It’s a constant struggle to find that balance. Looking forward to all of your content in the new year!
Katia Cooper says
I don’t know why but it resonates me so much! I think maintaining the balance is a constant fighting. I am a regular follower of you. Please continue the good work.
Point Content Marketing says
Reading your blog makes me feel like a weight has lifted off my shoulders. Thank you!
Lisa Ellen Blogs says
My husband has been telling me that I n! it is hard for me to do as i have a son who is on the autistic spectrum and I have a lot of work things to do. i really enjoyed this article Blair, Thanks!