I have to admit that I have been struggling.
With the new year came a fresh perspective, a desire to start anew and rid myself of all the negativity that last year brought. A new year can mean new adventures, new stories, and new chances. I was ready and motivated to embrace all of that. I was starting over on a number of different levels.
It has felt great. Since the 2012 began, I have been more motivated, more organized, and more productive. I have finally settled into a routine that I have been trying to perfect since I started working almost a year ago. My daily planner is being used, tasks are being crossed off lists, the house is staying relatively orderly and those hidden messy parts of my life are very slowly being chipped away to reveal something liveable.
I feel great: fresh, positive, optimistic, and accomplished.
And yet, I am struggling with one key aspect of my life.
I have been thinking a lot about rest lately. In fact, I have come back to the notion of rest again and again over the past two years. Motherhood is all about seeking elusive rest. Being a mother means giving of ourselves, often more than we ever imagined was possible to give. It means giving our bodies, our time, our sleep, our energy, and our work to nurture and provide for our family. Often our needs come last if they come at all.
And as joyful as it all is, it is also exhausting.
So the topic of rest has been present in my mind since my baby boy came into my life. I sought rest. Not just physical rest (sleep), but also mental and spiritual rest. Sometimes I made rest a priority, often to the detriment of other aspects of my life, and other times it has slipped from my grasp to be replaced by something else that needs doing.
The routine I am most comfortable with has me going to bed later and waking up earlier. But even with these late bedtimes and early mornings, my goal is to achieve rest. I go to bed later so that I have time after Cameron’s bedtime to clean up from dinner, straighten up the toys, and prepare the house for the following day. These tasks allow me to start each day fresh without the stress that clutter and rushing cause. I have vowed to wake up earlier because it is the only alone, quiet time I am able to find in my day. It is only before the dawn cracks that I can find a moment to sit, sip a hot drink, and delve into my Bible and prayer without any distractions. Through this routine I am accomplishing mental and spiritual rest –
– but not physical rest.
And then the transit strike hit. My schedule changed. My routine changed. I was taking on the roll of both a full time working Mom and a full time stay-at-home Mom. There was absolutely no way I could wake up an hour earlier than required for my quiet time. Many nights I even found myself crawling into bed before my husband kissed Cameron good-night. I had completely lost any grip I had on rest. I was anxious, physically tired, and spiritually drained. I was suffering. More than ever.
I have always believed that God will give rest to those who seek it. This is one of those truths that I held onto dearly after becoming a mother. The Lord wants me to be restored to rest. I am so often comforted by verses like Matthew 11:28* and Jeremiah 31:25**. I have clung to these verses like never before since becoming a Mother. I need this to be true.
But sometimes I wonder where that rest is. When will it come? I am weary. I carry heavy burdens***.
There is a place in my life where taking just one more step seems too exhausting. In this place, patience is non-existent, frustration abounds, anxiety soars. My body feels weak, my energy drained, my thoughts aren’t coherent, and my emotions are sunk. Tired doesn’t begin to explain this place because going to bed isn’t the escape route. This place is seemingly inescapable exhaustion.
Motherhood has brought me here many times.
I remember being in this place a month ago. The demands on my day were too much for me to handle. My routine had been thrown off on this one day and I had arrived to work after a rushed, stressful morning. My to-do list was a mile long. I was overwhelmed. I sat at my desk wondering how I would possibly get through my day when I heard twittering of chatter flow across the office. Everyone seemed to be affected by one common issue. The Internet was down. As I looked through my to-do list, I realize that everything required being online or in my email account. So there I sat, with nothing to do.
I was given a moment to catch my breath. I was given the opportunity to stop and pray and recharge. I was granted just enough rest to be restored from that exhausted state and continue on with my day refreshed and renewed. I was weary and I was given rest.
But I am a mother. So of course rest began to elude me once again. And once again, I wound up in that place, able to do nothing but the bare minimum to get by in my job and at home. The only way out of my situation was completely out of my control. As each day wore on, I grew increasingly more discouraged. I was weary. Burdened. I had no idea how to find rest.
And then, rest. Just like that my doctor put me on sick leave – an option that hadn’t even crossed my mind. Suddenly, everything that was weighing down on me had been lifted and I was once again restored. I am now just starting my second week home on leave and I am feeling so much better. The struggles are different, the tiredness remains, but my health and my stability are starting to return.
Jesus said, “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.”* This promise is my motherhood anchor. Without it, I don’t know how I could continue on through this exhausting journey. Motherhood, and all the rest of life that surrounds this position, is an incomprehensibly impossible task. It takes everything. It is okay to be tired. It is understandable to be tired. And for me, I can’t get through it without this support that continually comes through for me.
And so I watch this weary, burdened, imperfect body receive restoration once again. And again. And again.
*Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
**For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.” (Jeremiah 31:25)
***Or maybe I just carry an unborn child and a toddler, but sometimes that makes me feel burdened enough.