Before the summer started, my goal for the 3 months following were to rest. I went swimming a lot. I stayed up late and slept in. I took naps. I took trips. I skipped church a time or two (oops). I took prescribed Vitamin D pills. And I ate a lot of junk food. For some reason, however, I just didn't feel rested when school started.
It was a day before students were coming, and I felt that I was more tired then than I was when my previous year's students left back in May. To say I was aggravated would be an understatement. "Rest!" I would yell at myself. "Just rest!" But how do you "rest?" What in the world does that mean? How in the world do you do that?
I gave up on the idea of rest. I decided I was just going to live life in a downright busy manner and just deal with the fact I'm always tired. But a girl can only take being tired for so long until she just gets snappy.
For starters, I pulled the E-brake on the roller coaster my heart had been on for 6 months. In getting that buried, I put on the black robes for all the minor bumps in the road I had been encountering as well. It seemed as if the moment I spit fury in the face of the roller coaster's operator, I was on a roll.
Somewhere between starting a new school year and retrieving my heart, I learned the word "no." It seemed at times that I forgot what the word "yes" even meant. No, I don't want to hang out tonight. No, I just don't have time to call you back later. No, I can't eat dinner. No, I won't be there this weekend. No, I really wasn't wanting to date you. No, for real.
So, maybe snappy doesn't completely define what I was being! But in saying no and laying it all out there in brutal honesty for people, I have found myself doing the things I loved. I am loving every moment of teaching. I am loving the afternoon workouts and geocache dates with friends. I am loving going to bed early and even getting up before I have to in order to get to Jethro for breakfast.
I spent the entire day at my parents' house, which I have dubbed "God's country." It really is God's country to me with its serenity and unique beauty held by the Ozark Mountains and Mulberry River. We hiked through parts of the National Forest this afternoon partly to geocache but moreso to just enjoy the day. Mom had a roast in the crockpot for dinner when we got home, and she topped that with a brownie treat that Dad and I literally inhaled.
We sat on the back porch eating dinner and watching for deer in the hay meadow. That's when I found the most precious cache of all: rest. It hit me tonight while sitting in Mom's new lawn furniture that rest didn't mean sleeping or being lazy. Rest simply means finding rest within yourself, having the ability to say no to things you don't really like, and going full force with the things your heart passionately desires.
It was a revelation for a young woman like myself to discover this secret to life. In Bible study this summer, the oldest woman in the group said she would sum up her life's present situation in one word: rest. I envied that. I couldn't fathom how she could be so at peace. And I longed for the day I too could retire in order to rest. But what I discovered today was that rest is an inner quality that comes with the enjoyment in life...not some 30 year from now fantasy that I can only have once I have given my life to everyone and everything I never really wanted to entertain.
Rest. I believe that one simple concept will not only slow my life down, it will also open it up for even more ideas that life will throw at me. It's about resting in geocaching. In breakfast. In work. In dateless nights. In political debate. In lesson planning. In attending Amish church. In drinking sweet tea. In canning pickled okra. In writing. In making a surprise visit to see my niece and nephew. In celebrating a close friend's accomplishments. In sitting. In standing. In walking. In running. In singing. In not saying anything. Because pure rest is not in what you do or don't do. Pure rest comes when your heart has opened itself up to release the burdens that have kept you so tired. Then doing becomes less tiresome and sitting becomes less gruesome.