I grew up making lists. Our family motto was “Lists are our friends!” Every Saturday we would make a “To Do” list. When I was in high school I would make a list of things I had to do each day along with a list of what needed to be done sometime that week or even later that month. When I got married I kept on making lists: grocery lists, wish lists, to do lists, idea lists…I even had lists to keep track of my lists! As if my list-making skills needed any help, my husband introduced me to the world of Franklin Covey & the amazing schedule/list system that not only helps you make lists, it shows you how to organize your to-do items into categories such as Urgent/Important (pay electric bill or do laundry or my kids won’t have underwear for school tomorrow), Urgent/Unimportant (shopping- sale ends today or water my plants before they die), Important/Not-Urgent (Vacuum, clean bathroom, or other housework when no visitors are expected), and Not Important/Not Urgent (slacker stuff like watch TV, take a nap, read a book). I started to feel like if the majority of my day was taken up with “Not Important/Not Urgent” activities then I would be considered a slacker.
But life in a ministry family is unpredictable. My husband does not work a M-F 9-5 job. We write our schedule in pencil because it’s always changing. We are not guaranteed to have a day off every week…yes, my husband does work more than just Sundays. 🙂 This past week I decided to be a slacker. On Tuesday & Wednesday I took the day off. The house was clean(ish), the laundry was done. We had just finished a very big church event on Sunday and were worn out. My husband did some studying at home but other than that we just took it easy. But while I was sitting in my recliner reading my book, I began to feel guilty. What if someone stops by the house and finds me still in my pj’s? What if someone calls and asks me what I’m doing? What if God is watching me sit here when He knows all the work that someone needs to do in this community/nation/world?!? I’m such a slacker!!!! I need to get up and do something! How dare I sit here and watch Netflix with my family on a Tuesday morning? I’m burning daylight! My grandpa would be appalled!
But in my “slacking” I came across a wonderful blog on my favorite PW website. The writer was talking about margins…leaving space in your life & schedule for quiet & rest. Making sure you don’t fill out all the spaces in your planner so that you have room for the unexpected or even unexpected time to be still. I LOVED that! (You can read it here.) I took a deep breath…and settled back into my comfy chair for the rest of the day. And I’m so glad that I did.
A couple of days later my fully rested husband and I traveled 2 hours to the University of Louisville hospital to be with a church member who was having major surgery. We had to leave our house at 4:30AM! We stayed at the hospital praying, talking with the family, and sending updates to the rest of the church all day. The surgery lasted much longer than we expected and we ended up not leaving the hospital until 11:30 that night! We finally got home & in the bed around 1:30AM only to have to get up at 6AM to be at another hospital for another important surgery. It was very tiring, but we made it through without becoming too grouchy or falling asleep at the wheel (though we came close…). But think of how tired we would’ve been if we had not taken Tuesday & Wednesday morning to rest? Would we have been able to help these families through their ordeals if we had been exhausted from busy work in the days before? If we had not intentionally been slackers at the beginning of the week, we would not have been able to minister at the end of the week.
I’m so thankful that God says “There still remains a rest for the people of God” (Heb. 4:9). Rest is not evil. Slacking off is not a sin. Lists may be our friends, but they are no longer the boss of me! From now on I’m gonna cut myself some slack and be intentional about being still. (That is, until the laundry piles up and my husband is out of socks again…It’s a delicate balance…) 🙂
What about you? How you do “be still”? What do you do to find rest?