Finding rest…

Lately I’ve noticed when asking people, “How are you?” that frequently their quick response is, “busy!”

It even seems that it’s proudly worn like a badge of honour. If I’m busy I must be successful! Really? If we’re not frantically busy, are we failing in life? Like, how dare you not be bathed in stress, sleep deprivation, worry and on the brink of a burnout? Is that really what being a ‘productive’ human who is making a difference in life looks like?

Murray Smith

Nothing should ever define our identity to the point that perpetual busyness assures us of status, of feeling validated or worthwhile. Is an equation being formed here that people who aren’t super busy are useless?

It’s sadly commonplace to trade the value of having a life of genuine quality, for a life of ‘quantity’.

I think that what I’m describing broadly fits our culture – we are restless. Restlessness displays itself in so many ways. Being overly absorbed and occupied in multiple details and tasks, starting things but not sticking with them to completion… being easily distracted. A notable feature I see occurring in many lives is the fundamental detachment from basic moorings – losing who we were born to be, what it is that defines us and what life is supposed to be about.

The restlessness we’re born with propels us into experiments… the flitting from one experience to the next. A faster paced life, re-inventing our identity or seeking it through achievement, in a new relationship, or in affirmation or a new amusement. Interesting, the word ‘muse’ as a verb, means to think or meditate in silence. When the letter “a” is used as a prefix it renders a word into its negative form. So ‘a muse’ means to distract or divert attention from thinking.

I’m suggesting it’s worth stopping to think… is an inner restlessness propelling you to pack life full, to strive to be recognised as someone known for their performance and productivity? At what cost? Are you living a sustainable lifestyle, chasing outcomes that are exacting a negative a toll on your wellbeing?

I heard a certain chest thumping alpha male say, “I’d rather burnout than rustout!”  But why do either? It’s so profoundly empty and no achievement will fully satiate the ‘thirst’ and restlessness of a human being.

I’ve been convicted of the need to ‘live in rest’. I know what goes with the territory of restlessness- waking in the small hours when sound sleep flees to leave you wrestling with situations, churning over things that seem so huge in the hours of darkness. With it comes anxiety, agitation, uncertainty… lack of peace… anything but a state of rest. It effects mood, sound judgment and provokes a heightened sense of ‘busyness’ when ironically you’re actually accomplishing less.

The total answer is found in personal relationship with God. The Bible states, “In repentance and in rest is your salvation.” Forsaking self-reliance, there’s a rest which restores balance and poise to life, that is not driven, but fully satisfies. Jesus extends this invitation, “Come into me all you who are weak and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11: 28).

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