Recover Your Life

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Rest is not my normal bent. I am an Enneagram 8 with StrengthsFinders cheering me on toward activation and achievement. Add in a solid dose of extroversion, and being still doesn't come naturally. Faster, more productive, and more efficient are more my language that "rest".

Perhaps you can relate. If not, carry on, you rested soul. You don't need what I'm about to serve.

A few months ago during a particularly hectic season of life, my buddies from Stuff You Can Use asked me to be a guest on their podcast (Youth Ministry Answers) about rest. I laughed. OF COURSE!! It's one of the eye-rolling paradoxes of my life because while rest doesn't come naturally, I know how crucial it is to living a whole-hearted story. So, I got a little vulnerable and bold about how necessary it is for my - and our! - soul.

Here's a bit of what I said,
but if listening is more your style you can check out the podcast HERE.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
— Matthew 11:28-30

Unforced Rhythms of Grace. 

Those 4 words literally did not compute to me. That phrase, put all together was like a foreign language. I didn't understand what that phrase meant, much less how to experience that gracious invitation. But that passage has been a primary guide for me to move away from a chaotic soul and toward a more centered way of life.

REST DEFINED.

Rest looks different for everyone. Ultimately, rest is whatever reconnects and re-energizes your connection with our Creator and others. Rest reminds us who we are and how important (and non-essential) we are to God and in this world. Rest brings us back into alignment to who we've been created to be. Rest is flexible and contextual. Rest is relationally centered. 

 "My bench" at The Montage -- my deepest place of rest for a decade

"My bench" at The Montage -- my deepest place of rest for a decade

I took a deep dive into learning about rest, because (well, if you know me at all) that's how I roll. Before I became a mom, I used to take monthly days of silence and solitude at The Montage resort in Laguna Beach, CA. For nearly 10 years I came to this bench for a full day to re-connect with Jesus and learned about these unforced rhythms of grace. These days, practically I can't get to this spot every month for a full day of silence and solitude. 

Different seasons call for different rhythms of learning rest. Yet no matter the season of your life soul, daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly/annual rhythms are necessary for you to be whole and thriving. If you want to live "future forward" from a well rested place, not a frantic, hair-on-fire, empty, and frazzled place, rest is required. It's not a luxury, nor is it optional.

RESTFUL RHYTHMS.

Since we're all different in how we rest and our unique seasons of life, here are some thoughts as you determine how to recover your life:

DAILY - What brings you joy and helps you feel alive? Do at least one of those things every day. It may include:

  • disconnect from technology
  • speak gratitude for 3 specific things
  • meditate on truth
  • work out
  • practice a hobby
  • create something beautiful

Mine currently includes "coffee in the morning, wine at night". It's a daily rhythm of grounding myself in simple gifts from God for my body. I've also learned to listen to my body's needs and support it with essential oils. Our bodies are our vehicles for personal transformation and increasing love in the world, so I'm learning how to care for my body as a restful rhythm. Articulating 3 things I'm grateful for every day is a newer practice that is rocking my world. When the world feels especially heavy and unjust, I amp up my gratitude list. These have been my game changers to breathe more deeply and reconnect to my truest self.

WEEKLY - Take a Sabbath. Sabbath is a specific kind of rest. Think a 24 hour period, not just a day of the week. It can vary in the day from week to week, because - DUH - life. During a 24-hour Sabbath, you interrupt the pattern of your other 7 days. You stop producing for the benefit of someone else and posture yourself to be reminded that you are enough. You are loved. Who you are isn't what you do. For 24-hours remember that the world will keep on spinning without your help.  Sabbath practices may include:

  • go to places that energize you
  • eat well and move your body
  • spend time with life-giving people
  • do ordinary, unimportant work like gardening or cleaning the kitchen
  • put "do not disturb" on your phone
  • use an "out of office" email until people learn to stop asking you for things on a day off
  • participate in a worship service with other people of faith

One of my favorite quotes from John Ortberg is "sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is sleep". The Sabbath is a great time for a nap.

MONTHLY - This is a great rhythm to get creative! For some of you a day at your version of the The Montage resort would be a good practice for you every 30 days. For others, it may be intentionally creating space to read, listen, pray, meditate, and soak in love beyond what you do on a daily or weekly basis. I've known folks who do a monthly massage or pedicure so they reconnect their body to God and feel loved through some physical touch. 

QUARTERLY / ANNUAL - Vacate your life. Intentionally taking time away from your daily routines and responsibilities gives you perspective that you canNOT get in the hustle and flow of the daily grind. Be strategic about when you do this. This may mean a weeklong vacation, but it could also mean shifting up your daily routine, taking time off from work and intentionally planning excursions that cultivate wonder, mystery, and playfulness. It doesn't need to cost money, but you may want to plan your finances so you can invest in something that will fill you in ways that won't happen otherwise. 

Whatever your rhythms look like, anchor them in grace. If rest results in you living more freely and lightly, you'd doing it right. It doesn't matter if it's different than the religious ways you've learned about it. Know you're loved. And rest will remind you of that truth.

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April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, she’s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.