But I am So Exhausted

Busyness.  We've talked about it a lot as a church, as a culture, and definitely from the pulpit.  But the fact of the matter is that no matter how much we talk about it, it continues to knock our lives out of balance.

Psalm 51 is famous amongst students of the Bible for it's confession of sin.  But there is a plea that we'll focus on this week:

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

Restore is an imperative verb—David is begging God to return to him the joy he had prior to his "big fall."  It feels like many of us have been praying this prayer for the last year and a half.  Covid has taken away much of our joy, and now that we are trying to get back to normal, we don’t feel like normal may ever happen again.

For some of us, we may be trying to cram everything we can.  Make up for lost time, or out of fear of another lockdown.  

For others, our rhythms changed, we became less busy, and now to try and become busy again out of necessity.

So let's ask two questions in regard to rest and balance:
1.Why do we need it?

From Sarah Bessey:

“Today I’m wondering again at how much pressure we feel to sanitize our stories so that they don’t make people uncomfortable, how we anecdote our experience with the lightness or the healing or birth or new life alone in order to make it acceptable. We simplify and sanitize and so we miss the healing we could have if we only spoke the whole truth....It makes me wonder how much of our collective trauma or sin or grief or devastation we have still not dealt with yet. I wonder about the effects of the pandemic, both the intensity of the first two waves and this newly politicized wave, the grief over the ones we have lost and the anger at each other. I wonder about purity culture and spiritually abusive churches, celebrity “pastors” and the damage we did in the name of God, toxic theology and the vulnerably caught in the spokes of the wheels of “progress.” The stories we’re sanitizing right now. I wonder about the reckoning, the apocalypse, as we are simply carrying on, carrying on, even cracking jokes, modelling our resilience when the whole time, well, somewhere our body, our spirit, knows it’s not quite that simple. I wonder about the places in our lives where the truth is tapping us on the shoulder, patiently waiting for eye contact."

2.Where do we get it?

- Sabbath: Any time we find ourselves feeling exhausted or exhibiting signs of burnout, if we take God's Word seriously, we must ask ourselves honestly, "Am I giving myself the gift of complete rest, one entire day per week?"  If not, we may have discovered the source of our exhaustion.  How might we respond?
 
- Cultivate mindfulness: "Mindfulness Meditation" has become popular, and while we may not see it per se in the Bible, it is not necessarily antithetical to how Jesus lived and taught.  As Christians, we might be more familiar with calling it something like "Quiet Time" or "Devotional."  If you're unaccustomed to making daily time for quiet, reading, and prayer, then start small.  Try taking breaks throughout the day to simply breathe quietly.  Remember this wisdom from N.T. Wright, that Jesus did his entire ministry at a walking pace -- a "3 mile per hour" pace.  Why would we try to do life any faster?

Consider this poem:
“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
and every common bush afire with God;
but only he who sees, takes off his shoes—
the rest sit around picking blackberries”
--Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Here are a few practical tips to try this week:

- Give yourself permission to say no
- Understand the limitations of others, as well as yourself
- Help other people in your community also find rest

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