Why does rest feel so hard?

I laid in bed, awake and longing to sleep. My head hurt and my body drained. It was Sunday. Again.

For some reason I think that I experience emotional and relational exhaustion the most on a Sunday. My body and heart finally yell, STOP. And so I stop. Perhaps it’s because I have the most space to stay home.

Feeling relationally drained is painful because as an extrovert I long to being with others. So being home alone and ‘resting’ when I feel at my lowest hurts. It’s hard. It’s lonely. I’m then forced to face the questions of, “why do I feel empty?” It’s a temporary emptiness, my cup needs to be refilled and I’m learning to discover what fills that cup best.

After experiencing this cycle week after week, season after season, let me share that hours of mindless Netflix doesn’t refill that cup. It doesn’t help me feel loved, connected, and valued.

Here are 5 things I’m learning about rest:

Rest is hard. It forces me to stop and break my busy lifestyle and that’s uncomfortable. I love filling my days with people and activities and whatever helps me feel ‘accomplished’. Is accomplishment addictive? It can feel that way when I’m tempted to fill my life with more, more, and more. I find misplaced purpose in that place. It’s resting and stopping that fights against that.

Rest is elusive. It’s always changing and looks differently each day. It also feels like something I’m constantly striving for, but it’s not quite within my grasp. Sometimes unwinding after work is done best at home alone with a book, or a tv show. Other moments, rest looks like investing in my body and going to the gym. I’m discovering that my empty emotional cup is best refilled when I do things that help me feel loved, connected, and valued. But in the moment it can be hard to make a wise choice about how to pursue those things.

Rest is attainable. I’m surprised sometimes when I come away from an activity feeling more full than when I began. Often it will include some emotional encouragement. That’s always good for my soul. Some serious relational connection time. Or time in my garden. There’s a hands-in-the-dirt connectedness that helps me feel rooted and grounded. It’s healthy and helps me view life more objectively too.

Rest is relational. This is easy for me because I’m an extrovert - most of the time. I think I’m actually an ambivert (right in the middle). It’s real I promise! But rest is more than just human-to-human relational connecting. Rest looks like connecting emotionally. Sometimes I would find it in my dog, or a good friend - but they’re not always around. There’s a promise in the Bible where God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) When I know that God is with me always, even in the moments when I feel most empty and alone - I can find comfort. He doesn’t abandon or reject me, even in my most real-and-honest painful moments.

Rest is a gift. More often than not, the work will never be finished. Not until the world ends as we know it I guess. In my relationship with God, I am given rest as a gift. God says, “you can stop and heal your body, heart and mind. You don’t need to be striving constantly or try to do it ‘all’. I’m here. I’m in control. I’m holding onto the world and your circumstances. I’ve got the night watch.” Rest is a gift of grace that lets me acknowledge that I can’t be 100% on, all the time. I don’t have to perform each moment. I’m given permission, and granted the freedom to stop.