We can't love like Jesus unless we rest—in Jesus and in how he made us.



Confession: I don’t love summer. Sometimes I even hate it. I dislike high temps and the reapplication of sunscreen. Cooking makes my home hot, so I don’t. (My kids adjust to a more hunter-gatherer lifestyle, foraging for meals and subsisting on mini-bagels and cream cheese.) Every member of the family sees a fairy land of fun activities. I see a tsunami of dread: unlimited options plus my everyday ordinary life responsibilities feels nothing short of paralyzing. Most of all, I feel added pressure to connect with people around me morning, afternoon and evening every single day. Summer feels more like frazzled chaos.

Confession: I struggle with “not doing enough” year-round, but in summer this feeling is exacerbated. In my neighborhood, our backyard borders a courtyard of nine houses. From my front porch, I look directly at another four houses. Thirteen houses. Thirty people. All with an immediate connection to our home, and this is just the beginning of our ties in the neighborhood. I love my neighbors. Truly. I feel blessed. But, when more than ever I need to hunker down and have soul space, I feel less like I have the right to do it. People are available and I could give every minute to it.

Confession: I am a limited person with limited time and limited physical, mental and emotional energy. I consider myself a social introvert. I enjoy long conversations and small gatherings. But without chunks of quiet, I am not an authentic version of myself—more like a zombie going through the motions. Summer was not created for people with an innate need for quiet. What I seem to need most is grace for myself. To breathe deeply and rest in who God made me. I cannot be all things to all people. I can’t live as if I’m trying to meet a good neighboring quota. My choices need to be from a well deeper than a must-do or should-do.

I can do no better than follow Jesus’s example:

 

But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. (Luke 5:15-16)

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. (Mark 1:35-39)

 

He withdrew before a day began. He withdrew after a day had finished. (And I assume he took some naps, too!) He made space for isolation and quiet in order to minister to the needs around him — to love well.

Confession: I want to be available to love well. I recently listened to an interview with Kristin Schell, pioneer of the Turquoise Table Movement. She said this: “Generous hospitality is directly related to our general availability.” What if what I can do is simply be available? To sit on my front porch, be in my backyard, walk in my neighborhood without feeling pressure to create and pursue social everything. For this season, is it okay to do what comes easy? Can lavish generosity co-exist with self-imposed limitations? Am I free to rest?

 

Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength. . . . It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less. (Charles Spurgeon)

 

Do more by doing less. For much of my Christian life, I’ve operated under a certain theology of “what is difficult is most spiritual.” Please don’t misunderstand: I know from experience that God has placed me in many circumstances and seasons far out of my comfort zone. He has asked for my trust to do what I would not choose to do. This has been right and good for the shaping of my soul. Still, I believe that some of my feelings of “not enough” come when I operate in my strengths but feel burdened to be more than I am, to do more of everything that doesn’t feel natural.

God has gifted me with skills and strengths that come as naturally as breathing. There is a value in accepting who God made me and not how I wish he had made me.

Confession: I love my neighbors and want to be present with them.

 

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. (Romans 12:11-13, The Message)

 

How does this look for me? I like to sit on my front porch—reading books, sipping tea, eating meals, doing projects, and hanging with my kids. We chat with people passing by and people coming to get their mail. I like to make iced coffee and lemon scones; my kids like to deliver said baked goods and tasty beverages. I like to take evening walks with my family—we become seen and recognizable. I like small spontaneous gatherings—grabbing neighbors for grilled pizza and chocolate lava cake. This is what I like, this is what I can do with ease.

How we spend our time is a faith journey all its own. I want to breathe in the grace and freedom that I have because God knows me. I believe that he will nudge my heart when the order of the day is out of my comfort zone. I am also free to have days of radio silence, knowing this will allow me to love better, from a space of encouragement instead of obligation. My summer offering feels meager—a few loaves of fish and some stinky fish. But I will entrust my offering to God, and more than this, I will entrust my heart. I will rest in his knowing of me—that he loves me and sees my heart. A heart that wants to love well.