on forgetting how to rest

Posted: March 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

One of the very first things that attracted me to G was how hard he worked, and how cheerfully – he’s a great worker.  He only knows how to give everything he’s got – he doesn’t conserve energy throughout his day by hanging back a bit where he may, and he can’t fathom saying the words, “That is not my job.”  He is this walking explosion of willing servanthood, and that caught my eye big time.  This wonderful trait has proven true at home, not just at work – the guy is serious about getting stuff done.

But unlike many hard workers, he also knows how to rest.  G is really, really good at rest.  When it’s time to rest, he’s in full chillaxin’ mode.  He takes the biblical instruction for Sabbath rest very seriously.  His Sabbath is on Saturday; left to his own devices, he luxuriates into rest that day.  Since he works every other weekend, he is intentional in making his day off through the week a substitute Sabbath.  G knows about rest.

The whole “rest” gig – the Sabbath – is one of the ways I struggle to practice being a Jewish wife.  I mean, I know that Sabbath is not ONLY a Jewish thing.  But how many Christians do you know that are serious about an actual day of real rest?  Certainly it’s not a thing I have felt strongly admonished to in a lifetime of working out what it means to follow Christ.  While it’s not a thing that NEVER has come up as I’ve studied and been taught, it sure doesn’t come up much.

None of that is to blame my lack of ability to rest on the church or on any of my spiritual leaders – that would be total bull puckey.  I’ve read the scripture, I HAVE heard/read some instruction on the subject.  I am without excuse, where teaching is concerned.

I can’t mark the spot where I started forgetting how to rest.  I know that once upon a time, I was good at it.  And then there was a passage where I “rested” too much – though it wasn’t so much rest as the inertia of depression.  Then there was massive, sweeping change in my life – a total rewrite of my script and even of who I have understood myself to be.  Then I got productive.  And more productive.  And MORE productive.  I was an efficient multi-tasking machine, astonishing myself and others at what I could pile into a day.  Even then, I was still fitting some rest in there – maybe not an intentional once-a-week thing, but some.

Somewhere along the way, though, I lost my grip on rest.  I am almost constitutionally incapable of a day of rest at this point.  When I get a day off, I fill it with tasks that I say are “restful for me.”  Things like organizing the basement, cooking a week’s worth of food, cleaning the garage, scrubbing walls and ceilings.  Sometimes I fit in things that might really count as rest – puttering around the yard, riding my bike, going for a walk, writing…but it’s hard for me to allow those things unless I also do the getting-stuff-done things as well.

I’m pondering all of this today because yesterday was my 3-month check-in with my chiro/functional medicine practitioner, whose help is giving my life back to me after fatigue had locked itself in to steal my life in increments of both 2 extra hours of sleep needed daily to function, and also a constant weariness that made me wish I was in bed basically every hour of the day that I was not.

When we meet, she requires me to turn in a several-page document that updates her on how I’ve been feeling and also what I’ve been eating in the past couple of days.  The bulk of our meeting is going over that document with me talking and her very actively listening, questioning, drawing more information out of me.

These meetings have been bubbly-happy on my part since I started seeing results within a couple of weeks of starting with her and continue to see remarkable improvement as we go.  Yesterday I noted that things I didn’t even ask her to address are being solved along the way – things I lacked the imagination to suppose could ever be different.

I was gushing along, telling her how amazing I feel, and also pushing in my questions.  I’m down from needing a 10-hour night of sleep to needing just 8 hours, but I wanted to know:  how soon until I can sometimes push that back to the occasional 6 hour night?  With G’s work schedule, we really must be in bed by 7 PM to get an 8 hour night, and that’s cramping my style.  I stay up a full extra hour one day a week – sometimes even two –  so that I can attend at least the beginning of evening events at church; when I do so, I pay for that one missed hour of sleep with fatigue for a day or even two afterward.  I’d like this to change.  When will it change?  I also let her know that I’m thrilled that my arthritis is so much less painful these days that I’m able to walk daily for exercise…but I want to get back to running.  I giddily told her I’m sure I will be running again very soon.

She let me bubble on a bit, celebrating my remarkable recovery with me, but soon she brought diplomatic redirection.  “Slow down there, Skippy,” was the content of her urging, though she said it much more professionally than that.  She reminded me, as she always does, about the need to be gentle with my recovering body.  To go slowly.  To allow for healing before bolting off into the next bit of busyness.

Those six-hour nights I want to be able to run on?  She kindly pointed out that these are the kinds of choices and attitudes that backed me into the corner of adrenal fatigue.  I need to choose differently.  I need to be wise.

My exuberance to get back to running?  She’d like me to hold off on that ’til the 6 month mark.  Give my body some more time to recover from what was almost two years of struggle.  Regroup first, and then go forward.

That stuff is hard to hear, partly because I seem to have folded getting-stuff-done into a defining personality trait for me.

But it is also a giant relief to get these instructions.  Part of what drives me is the expectations of others that I feel pressing in on me.  Many a loving, well-intentioned friend has urged me to basically buck up, buttercup both while I was in the morass of fatigue and especially now that I am doing better.  I make my apologies for needing to get home to bed, and from time to time it is made very clear to me:  others don’t get it.  They think I’m being inflexible or maybe lazy, I don’t know.  I get attempts at correction via gentle teasing, and I feel the pressure.  Why can’t I just muscle through and stay up late for cool events?  So I’m grateful for my doc, who insistently drags me back around to remember:  proper rest is a prescription for me right now.  It’s not really optional at all.

Now…if I can just start relearning what real rest (not just sleep) looks like.


  1. Jaclyn says:

    Oh my me too!!!! I need to do better!!!

    Sent from my iPhone


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