Today’s guest post is brought to us by Jerusha Clark. Jerusha is an author, speaker, wife, and mom.  Her newest book Every Piece of Me: Shattering Toxic Beliefs and Discovering the Real You (Baker, 2017) is a book that reminds us that God never meant for us to focus on whether we are “enough” or whether we measure up. He made us–every piece of us–to be just as He is.  She calls us to an identity fixed on Christ alone while leaving behind fear, bitterness, busyness, and toxic thoughts that steal our joy and limit our power.

I’m giving away one copy of her book today. To enter to win, leave a comment sharing one takeaway that you needed to read from today’s post.

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It would be hard to pinpoint exactly when it happened.  Maybe when my kids started school and an invisible hand seemed to press the fast forward button on my life.  But that was over a decade ago.  My kids are teens now.  Shouldn’t I have figured out how to answer the question, “How are you?” with something other than “Crazy!” “Busy!” or “You know…just tryin’ to keep up?!”

At some juncture, most of my mommy friends went from answering cordial, “How’s it going” queries with a polite form of “I’m fine, thank you,” to using the opportunity to bemoan how busy our lives had gotten.  No matter where I was—at the pick up line at school, waiting for gymnastics practice to end, checking out at Target—I couldn’t get away from one thing: the ever present, ever pressing weight of my own schedule.  Can I get an amen from any other mamas out there?!

For a while, I honestly believed it when I told friends and family, “Things will quiet down after ________” (insert here any number of possibilities, including “the holidays are over,” “competition season ends,” “I finish this book,” etc.)  But nothing ever changed.  And it finally occurred to me:  I’m supposedly the master of my own schedule, but I’m actually a slave.

This did not sit well with me.  And if you’re even the teensiest bit like me, it shouldn’t sit well with you, either.

Enter one amazing friend and one life-changing conversation. 

Michelle told me about a book she was reading.  At first I listened with mild interest.  A book on rest.  How nice.  Then the spinning world of my own scheduling came to a screeching halt with these words:  “Jerusha, I had the biggest ‘aha’ when I read this: ‘Slaves don’t rest. Slaves can’t rest. Slaves, by definition, have no freedom to rest. Rest, it turns out, is a condition of liberty.”

Uhhh…

Rest is a condition of liberty.  Rest and freedom are inseparable.  If you can’t rest, you’re a slave to something.  Christ died so that you and I don’t have to keep going, going, going until we keel over.  And long before that, our loving Heavenly Father perfectly modeled the balance of fulfilling work and embracing rest when he made the world and took a Sabbath to enjoy it: For in six days, the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea and all that is in it, but He rested on the seventh day.  Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and He made it holy (Exodus 20:11).

 Bottom line, I had scheduled myself out of rest.  Sure, I knew how to binge watch Netflix to “detox” from a tough week.  But I never really felt rested after that.  Okay, so I knew how to plan an amazing getaway or vacation.  But I often returned home in need of a vacation from all the craziness of adventuring.  Essentially, even though I knew how to be entertained, I didn’t know how to rest.  Maybe, like me, you’re better at being entertained or zoning out than actually resting.

But that all changed for me after that conversation with Michelle.  I began studying the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus.  As a good Christian girl, these claims—e.g. “I am the Light of the World,” “I am the bread of Life,” “I am the Good Shepherd,”—were tucked away in my spiritual subconscious, but I’ll be honest: they weren’t really manifest in my daily life.  Looking intently at Jesus as the Good Shepherd helped me to break free of slavery to my schedule.  The girl who couldn’t stop began practicing Sabbath.

I know, I know.  That sounds so Old Testament.  But, sweet friend, I wish you could have journeyed with me as I learned to rest without simply looking to “escape,” as I discovered the joy of tech-free and noise-free moments, as I unwound the tension of my overscheduled mind and heart and found freedom to savor the world God created: good food made and eaten slowly, leisurely love-making, long, unhurried walks that weren’t about getting my sweat on, but just about enjoying.  Um, why had I waited so long to embrace this?

Because I didn’t believe that I could get everything done in six days.  Deep down, I worried that something would fall apart if I didn’t keep juggling seven days a week.  I fretted about saying no to people—including my kids—who didn’t really understand why mom I started saying strange and mysterious things like, “No, I’m not going to drive you to the mall today; that’s the opposite of rest for me.”  I even worried that I’d miss out on something really good because I was “resting” (which, back then, kinda sounded like a punishment).

Perhaps, in reading that last paragraph, you caught on quicker than I did; maybe you realized it was fear that kept me a slave to my schedule.  Fear of not getting enough done.  Fear of disappointing people.  Fear of missing out.  Fear, even, that rest (and especially Sabbath rest) would be boring.

But I don’t want to be a slave to my schedule.  And I most certainly don’t want to be a slave to fear.  So I started small, trying to take a couple hours to rest.

And it was challenging.  I felt so restless trying to rest.  I didn’t like saying no to things.   I’m one of those “activity makes me happy” kind of girls.  Slow is not my style.  But, interestingly enough, I learned rest didn’t have to be slow.  It was so full.  So freeing.  I felt expanded, not held back.

I’ve discovered that living beyond my limits leads to perpetual exhaustion, not a better life.  Living with limits—the limits of rest that I chose (and keep choosing!) to embrace leads to what Jesus described in various renderings of John 10:10 as “abundant life,” a “rich and satisfying life,” “more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

More and better life than you’ve ever dreamed of.  If you’re ready, join me in embracing rest.  Don’t be afraid.  If God can literally create the entire world in six days, don’t you think he can manage your stuff in six days?    

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Jill’s note:

This has been a place God has really been growing me. If you follow me on social media like Instagram or Facebook, you’ve seen more sunsets, pics on the beach, and time with friends and family. That’s because I’m intentionally balancing out my work with rest. I’m slowing down and savoring, refusing to be a slave to my “to do” list.

You can find practical ways to start embracing rest in “The Unforced Rhythms of Grace,” Chapter Seven of Jerusha’s new book, Every Piece of Me: Shattering Toxic Beliefs and Discovering the Real You (Baker, 2017).

For a chance to win a copy of Every Piece of Me, leave a comment sharing one takeaway that you needed to read from today’s post.

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