Rest. Sometimes we act like it is a four-letter word. We avoid it like the plague. We beat ourselves up when we must do it. We judge others when they engage in it and don’t work as hard as we do.
Why do we do these things? Often, we think we must work to prove ourselves. What does that mean? Our worth is based upon how much we can produce through our work. We feel good about ourselves if we produce and are successful. We feel very poorly about ourselves when we don’t live up to our expectations. Our self-esteem, our feeling good about ourselves, our happiness and joy and based upon our ability to work.
Fear is also a part of our over-working. We are afraid of not measuring up to our or others’ expectations. We are afraid of what might happen if the job is not completed as we think it needs to be.
Work is certainly important. We need to take care of our homes, be responsible in our jobs, and take care of our other responsibilities. However, work becomes a problem when we focus on it at the expense of caring for ourselves and the other people in our lives.
Rest is a word with four letters, but it is not a four-letter word. Rest is a good word, and a good thing to do. It is a primary way we gain new energy so that we can take care of our duties in a responsible way and enjoy them while we are performing them. When we are rested, we can think more clearly about how to do our work. Rest is also a way of recognizing that we can do some things while leaving appropriate responsibilities to other people. We give them the opportunity to be active when we resist doing their work for them, and they feel better about themselves because they have taken care of their duties.
In Jesus’ world was a religious group called the Pharisees, who expected themselves and others to work all the time at keeping the rules they came up with. They carried very heavy loads and expected others to do the same. As a result, they were judgmental of people who did not try to meet all their expectations. Jesus, however, did not have such expectations of himself or others. He provided an invitation for people to trust in Him and to live their lives in a relaxed, joyful manner. Jesus said, “Come to me and I will give you rest-all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke…for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens.” (St. Matthew 11: 28-30, The Living Bible).
Oh, yes, even God rested. After working for six days creating all things, God rested. Hopefully we can give ourselves permission to rest as well.