The Practice of Active Rest

Are you tired Mama?  I know.  I’ve seen the look too many times, the frazzled, absent look, the far-off gaze of a million different thoughts and worries running behind your eyes like a never-ending To-Do list.  I know Mama.  I’ve been there.  So many times, I hear moms say “I’m just so tired.”  And I know they just want to collapse.  The tired is bone deep, it settles between the shoulders, it feels like a heavy blanket draped over you.  How can you possibly keep it together Mama?  How can you possibly manage it all?  Let me give you the freedom here to admit that you can’t.  You weren’t meant to.  You need rest.  Deep sigh.  Doesn’t that sound nice? 

Last month I was right there.  At the end of January I had had enough.  I felt like an overripe peach, any pressure and I bruised, weeping at any slight, easily frustrated, short temped, lack of sleep.  I was done “adulting.”  I was done parenting alone.  I was done worrying if I’d have money next week for rent.  I was done with family problems, work issues.  I wanted to pack up my bags and run.  Sitting awkwardly at a child’s table in the middle of the Read Aloud Children’s section of Barnes and Nobel looking vacant and glossy eyed, frazzled and dark circled, I had a mini mental temper tantrum with God.  With balled up fists and stomping feet I threw myself on the floor and protested, “I’m done.  No more.  I’m just so tired!”  Even as I said this, I knew I was being ridiculous and I’m so grateful for a God who invites me into a real relationship with him.  I imagine he can handle my fits of anger and frustration.  I imagine he, like me, can spot an overstimulated, under napped Mama just like I can tell when my daughter needs a nap and not another chocolate candy.  In my frustration, I demanded, “Your word says, ‘Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’ I came Lord, I’m all in.  I’m doing what you’ve called me to do, now where is my rest?”


What is rest anyway?

I clearly needed some understanding about what rest really meant.  What is rest?  Why do I not feel rested?  What am I doing wrong?  I needed to understand what this word meant.  I needed to get a clear understanding of what I was so longing for.  I have vegged out, I’ve Netflix binged like the best of them.  I have girls-nighted, beach walked, window shopped, date-nighted.  All of that but I still feel overwhelmed.  I’ve napped and woken up and felt just as unrested.  The rest that I am after, the rest I need as a woman, a mother, a friend and a ministry leader is the real rest.  The rest that goes with you in every situation.  The not for a moment, but the all-the-time-every-waking-moment rest.   Exodus 33:14 says, “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.”  BINGO.  That’s what I’m in search of.  Now where is that and how do I get some? 

Rest is necessary.  It keeps us going, it keeps us level headed and grounded and ready to respond to the world, our friends and family and to problems positively.  We were never mean to work so hard, we were originally designed to work enough and to be in rest and fellowship.  That was our original design.  Somewhere along the line our culture has esteemed being busy.  How many times have you responded to the question of how you are as, “We’re good, busy.”  And somehow busy is the qualifier of good.  The world “hustle,” is so popular.  You’ve seen the shirts, the ceramic mugs, the cute wall art, “#hustle.”  When did hustle come to mean meaningful?  It’s the opposite really.  The enemy wants to keep you right there.  Busy.  Busy equals exhausted.  Exhausted equals defeated.  Are you spiritually, physically, emotionally depleted?  Then you are right where you are least effective.  I bet you’re tempted to check out on social media streams instead of real socializing.  I bet you’re staying up at night thinking of all the many undone things you just don’t have time to do. I bet you need a hug.  A nap.  A bit of freedom and fresh air.  Maybe you’ve put on weight, like I have.  Stress eating that good 10 extra pounds, pass the carbs, quick foods and massively caffeinated drinks please!  I need something to keeping me going.

So, this month I drew a line in the sand and I accepted God’s challenge to rest.  Despite what my gut told me, because rest is counter-intuitive when facing difficulties, I made a deliberate choice to REST.  Let me tell you, God really showed up.  I had one of the most productive months, and have felt so incredibly better, more engaged and restored.  Here are a few truths God revealed to me about rest. 

Truth 1:  Rest Requires Action

I suppose I had an idea that rest just would happen supernaturally.  Somehow, I had gotten it in my head that the harder I worked to do the right things God would just give me the rest needed. I realize this was foolish thinking, but it was an untruth that I really clung to.  I thought if I get to a certain place in my life, or if my kids were a bit older, or if I had x amount of money, I could then take it a little easier.  But that isn’t the truth.  To rest right now Mama, you don’t need more, you need boundaries. 

Find a time in your schedule for you and protect it with your life.  For me I figured out in my schedule that I could drop my kids off at school and fit in 30 min for a walk each morning.  I changed my schedule to only accept meetings at 9 am.  I started wearing my yoga pants to sleep so I was ready to go in the morning.  I’ll be honest the first few days I made excuses. I even parked on the street and then drove off making up some sort of excuse about having to go to the bank early.  I felt guilty for carving that time out for a walk?  Shouldn’t I be #hustling?  But eventually I made it out there and I can’t tell you how that has changed my days.  Grace will take you places hustling can’t and by spending time walking, connecting with God and getting on page with him, in the fresh air I found I’m more productive, creative and refreshed.  And, admittedly the first few walks my mind raced, but I put those things out of my mind and changed my thought pattern.  I’ve had more seed ideas for helping women with children, then I ever have.  It’s been like having a power meeting with God every morning.

Active Rest Challenge: Find some time, get with God and guard it with your life.

Truth 2:  Learn to Say No

Busyness is a choice.  I don’t care how you want to justify it.  Not everyone needs you all the time.  That’s just plain egotistical thinking.  Learn to say no and say it without guilt.  Here is the thing, I constantly felt I needed to be there for everyone, that I had to bend backwards for others and make peace constantly even if it was at my own expense, happiness or energy.  Once I started saying “No” I felt I could control my calendar my calendar no longer controls me.  I was fitting people in 7 pm meetings and speaking engagements.  Come on now! I have a family!  I don’t have a partner at home to pick up where I leave off.  I saw myself like a battery cell, I only have so much power in a day.  If you see yourself as a finite being, you will be more selective in what and who you devote your energy too.  Way too many single moms are trying to do the role of two parents.  You must stop, you can’t be both, you weren’t meant to.  Your kids will understand, they’ll still love you if they’re not in every sporting, extracurricular, music class, club etc.  Over committing only results in exhaustion or letting people down when you can’t keep your promises because you aren’t as available as you thought you were.

And while you’re at it, say no to social media.  Set some restrictions for yourself. Social media is proving more and more to be the cause of comparison, discontentment, depression, disconnection, isolation and envy.  None of that justifies your need to check in.  Your family and your home is just there waiting for you on the other side of that screen.  Put it down, stop clicking “yes” to every event invite. 


Active Rest Challenge: Say no to one thing that is extra that is weighing you down, and at the very least turn your phone off in the evening for one week.  Push through the awkwardness and withdrawal of the phone and I promise you will see a difference.

Truth 3:  Confess When You’re Stuck and Lean into Your Community

God has surrounded you with people who have so many strengths where you are your weakest.  I was having trouble with financial issues, the worry was weighing me down.  It was keeping me up late at night, I was trying way too hard to do it all on my own.  When I finally confessed my need, I had two friends step in and help.  They asked what I needed and encouraged me that they would do what they could to support me.  Suddenly I wasn’t alone anymore, I immediately felt relief and I immediately could sleep at night.  The word encourages us to bare each other burdens (Galatians 6:2).  We aren’t designed to do this life alone and we need others.  If you’re part of a community group, this is where you are invited to speak into your life.  We allow others to do ministry with us in our small groups and where we reflect the body of Christ.

Active Rest Challenge: Find a small group and start being honest with those things that keep you up at night and you’ll find a place for you to share your passion and strengths with others as well. 

So, Mama’s take the challenge and sit down and be honest with yourself with what you need to implement the practice of “Active Rest.”  Active rest allows you to be invited into life and not charging ahead getting stuck in the need to do.   It goes beyond self-care, it is soul care and you Mama need it.    

By Brandi Dailey

Thrive Single Moms

www.thrivesinglemoms.org