“By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing, so on the seventh day, He rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.” Genesis 2:2-3
Picking blueberries in the forest, summer sunlight at 11 p.m., sauna time. Three of many wonderful things that can be experienced here in Estonia. My all-time favorite thing, although I’ve never participated in it, are the long summer holidays that my Estonian friends and colleagues sometimes take. Seeing out-of-office messages that read that they would be gone from July 1 to Aug. 1 suddenly became a trend. Surely this must be a typo. To be able to take off weeks at a time to just vacation? Staring at such messages may have well been me staring at a unicorn. I’ve heard of such things but I know it’s just crazy to think it’s reality.
All dramatics aside, my American trained mind could not fathom being able to take off four weeks from work to just hang out. Furthermore, I couldn’t even believe that this was allowed! I’ve been working for many years now and while not as unheard of as a unicorn sighting, taking extended holidays in American culture most certainly isn’t widely encouraged.
However, if I’m very honest, I did try this three-week break once. Several years ago, I took a three-week vacation to visit my parents in Europe to relax and have family time. While I was on vacation, I managed to get sucked into the unpleasantness of still checking work emails, answering work-related texts and taking phone calls. My parents looked at me like I was crazy, in fact, they may have even called me crazy. I was their overachiever of a daughter allowing herself to keep working while on vacation. I just shrugged off their judgmental stares thinking they’ve been “Europeanized” and have now forgotten what it’s like to be an up-and-coming professional in America.
I flew back to the U.S. on a Thursday evening and by Friday morning, I was up and making my way to work. A friend had mentioned this was so bizarre for me to do. “Who goes to work on a Friday after taking a vacation; why not wait until Monday?” Clearly, they didn’t realize that I was (in my mind) important. So there I was on a Friday morning, at work, walking across the lobby floor full of intent and purpose to “make things happen.”
And it was there, mid-stride, that I fell and broke my ankle in superb fashion. I actually dislodged my entire right foot from the leg. I’ll spare you the painful details. Just know that after one ambulance ride, emergency surgery that very day, to be followed by a second hospitalization days later because I developed blood clots that traveled to my lungs which if went to my heart or brain could have been deadly, I learned several valuable lessons.
The most important of which is this: I had to get out of the business of being busy. If I wasn’t going to take the advice of people who loved me and told me to simply relax and be still, well… the truth is, life has a way of slowing you down – whether you are ready for it or not. I spent three months in the initial stages of recovery in a cast with a walker, on pain medications and blood thinners, a year in physical therapy, and countless hospital visits. It was tough.
The best part of recovery though was that I spent a lot of time having conversations with God. When my ability to move around was taken away from me, I had no choice but to be still and take inventory on my life. I prayed. A lot. I was scared. So I prayed some more. I asked God to heal me, to show me how to live better, how to take better care of myself. I’ll also tell you what I didn’t do. I didn’t answer any work emails, or texts, or calls. As a matter of fact, they managed to do just fine without me. My office didn’t fall apart or melt away into chaos. Did this mean I was any less valuable or important to my team? Absolutely not. It just meant that I had a great team that was capable of continuing on without me.
This scripture about rest is one that many of us fail to adhere to. Maybe your business of busy isn’t being a workaholic. Perhaps you’re very busy with other things. Maybe your busy comes in the form of Facebook, Instagram, or perfecting the perfect face for the new Snapchat filter. Maybe your busy is video games, being at the gym, going out to parties, hanging out with friends. Maybe your busy is serving in church all the time, doing charity work, feeding the homeless, being a parent or a spouse. Please understand that you being in the business of busy doesn’t mean that the activity has no value or merit.
After all, the word of God says that after He created the world, even God himself rested. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of anything that I can possibly do that’s more important, magnificent, or worthwhile than what God did. And God just didn’t find time to rest. It wasn’t a free day that just popped up on His smartphone. No, He created a separate day to rest. God is powerful, wise, and all-knowing. Simply put, if resting is not beneath God, why can’t I commit myself to do the same? Why can’t you?
I submit to you that long holidays aside, finding balance, honoring Sabbath and slowing down a bit to take care of yourself is beneficial to a happy and whole existence. It’s necessary, in fact. Years later, I can say that I am well, recovered and healed. Furthermore, I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned. There are times I find myself tempted to jump into many activities and things because I want to help others, but then I’m gently reminded to slow down. It’s like they tell you on the plane: in the event of an emergency, please put on your oxygen mask before you help the person next to you. You are no good to others if you aren’t good to yourself. Don’t wait until you have a life-changing accident or there is a crisis around you to get out of the business of being busy. Let the wise word of God supersede culture norms, family preferences or self-imposed ideals of success. Let your heart, mind and soul rest. Trust me, it’s worth it. Better yet, trust God, He knows best.
– Mena –
Mena is a believer & a follower of Christ who wants to encourage others to live out a God sized life & destiny.