I am not good at this, this resting and waiting. But yet, this morning as I laid in the tub (I do a lot of thinking in the tub), this is what I heard God say to me – “Rest.” And then when I pushed harder, when I challenged that idea with the list of things I had to do and the ways I could “help” (help God, I guess), I heard “rest and wait.” Now the phrase is running through my head – the reluctant mantra of my day.
So much of me rebels against this idea. I’d like to blame my resistance to stillness and quiet on my culture – Americans demand busyness and activity, a solid individualism and independence that will “soldier on” through anything – but I know the truth is more complex than that. Part of the reason I don’t want to rest and wait is because I don’t want to – it’s that simple. I’m just not good at this.
I like to be busy. It’s easier to be busy, then I don’t have to look inside at the mess that is my human existence. Then, I don’t have to feel the pain or look at the lostness I feel. Then, I can avoid it.
I like to be moving forward because moving forward makes me feel like I’m in control. I like to do things because, well, then I’m doing something, not just waiting, not just expecting something to happen. “Make it happen” is what my former in-laws said to my ex-husband, and I live that message. I can make it happen if I just try hard enough.
So this resting and waiting thing, yeah, it’s really hard for me. As soon as I heard this command (because I need to face that I’m also struggling with the idea of obedience here), I began to formulate a list of all that needed to be done today – library, post office, bank, tutoring, prepping class, cleaning, etc, etc. I could walk to the library to get books on refugees for the article I’m writing, and then I could loop over to the post office to mail packages. Then, into the car (or for a walk) the ten blocks to the bank . . before coming home to tutor, prep, and email people about interviews for the article. I can do this. This is me in the bathtub, trying to soak for serenity and getting myself in a tizzy so fervent that my chest started to ache.
Because the truth is that I need to rest in more ways than one, and I just don’t want to. I need time to just idly think – not with a goal in mind – but just the kind of idleness that Anne Lamott talks about when she says we need to lay on the couch and stare into space more. I need physical rest, too (and here is where the walking is a really bad idea) because I have tendonitis in my foot from walking too much this weekend. My own busyness has injured me, at least physically if not psychologically and emotionally, too.
So today, I am resting. I will tutor, as I am contractually obligated to do. Then, I am taking to the touch with some books, some hot tea, the remote control and yarn. It sounds luxurious, right? And it will be, if I can just let myself do it.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” — Matthew 11:28-29