I am not a relaxer. Countless times I’ve been gathered with my sisters, friends, or any combination of our family of seven and looked around the room wondering why I can’t just “veg” out. As I’ve gotten older (read as tired), I’ve definitely learned how to indulge in the occasional “veg”; but it almost always comes in binge form and with feelings of guilt.
As a teacher I’m granted significant seasonal bliss called summer. But, this summer was a little different for me. I was tired all summer long. I mean really tired. My standard answer to “how are you?” became…
”I’m good. Tired, but good.” I couldn’t ignore the theme of the responses. Whether these were people were close to my inner circle or more on the edge. The echo was similar — “Well of course you are tired. You are always up to something.”
So, I listened. I considered this, and I stopped “doing.”
After the first couple of days I stopped twitching and involuntarily reaching for my phone. After a few more days, I found myself laughing out loud with my family and no longer watching the clock like my very life depended on it. Then, an uneasiness set in and I found that unless I was actively tuning out and relaxing, I was still anxious. No deadline, no appointments, no physical demands, and yet I was restless.
Although physical rest and inner (emotional/spiritual) rest can be done at the same time, they are not interchangeable. They are two different things. Somewhere along the way I tricked myself into surviving on just one. When I knew that I was going to have many physical demands (travel, long hours and heavy lifting), I would give myself a little extra soul care so I could “hold it all together.” When I finally had time to physically relax, the relief I felt made the surface level so comfortable that I didn’t want to feel anything deeply. Somehow, relaxing also meant numbing the gnawing feelings growing in my heart.
As long as I was providing myself with either physical or emotional rest, I could stay just this side of a complete and total breakdown.
Then, after days and days of “not doing” — the “relaxed me” had a total meltdown. This was not just a healthy sob that you wipe off the tears and put your big girl pants on. This was — can’t pick myself up, ugly cry, full on meltdown. I realized that although I had been training my brain to let my body relax, my soul was still anxious.
Just in time for summer to wind to a close I found myself at a crossroads. A necessary and scary crossroads. The crossroads where my physical need for rest and my spiritual need for rest collided. At risk of said breakdown, I finally gave in from all my stubborn perseverance and let the meltdown happen. It was a little ugly. No, truthfully — it was a lot of ugly. But although the tears flowed in an ugly cry the heat with which they spilled down was a cleansing fountain. The truth that followed is one I can hold on to. One that gives me freedom.
I must regularly experience physical rest and inner rest at the same time.
There it is. That simple. Be still and know…
From R7 to you —
Be a blessing.