I recently found myself in a beautiful little bed and breakfast, away for the week on a speaking engagement. I travel a lot, and it’s such a privilege to meet people around the world as I speak about relationships, men, women, marriage, and what will help us thrive. But there I was in the middle of the night in my room—awake and coughing for hours. I’d been sick, battling a miserable sinus infection and laryngitis, and now it was moving into my chest. I was so tired. I don’t have time for this! I thought. My calendar was packed, racing from city to city to speak at retreats and corporate meetings, cranking on writing and research deadlines and, oh yeah, I had a new book about to come out!
It’s laughable, really, because here I was, feeling sick and weary and flat-out exhausted, and I was getting ready to launch a book about finding rest.
Oh, how God must have been quietly chuckling at me.
Because this new book is designed to help us women soak in and live out a very important truth: Jesus promises us we can find rest even in the middle of a very busy life! Many books tell us to “slow way down,” “take time off,” and so on—which is a great solution for a short time but not realistic for a lifetime. Life is just busy!
But there is a solution for a lifetime—and it involves a mindset shift that I had to preach to myself first and foremost. During that time of crisis my team rallied around me and told me in no uncertain terms that all non-essentials were pulled from my calendar. They removed me from emails, took tasks off my plate, and virtually sent me to bed (from across the country because I WAS traveling after all) with a bowl of frozen yogurt, a box of tissues, a fun beach novel, and loads of prayer.
Road Testing Jesus’ Promise
Clearly, this subject of finding rest required road testing—actually doing what God says to do and trusting Him with the results. I had to remind myself: if the promises of God are true, then those road tests will succeed!
And the promise from Jesus here is pretty spectacular: that we can find rest while we are busy! Seriously, take a look at Matthew 11:28-30. (“Take my yoke upon you . . . and you will find rest for your souls.”) A yoke is fastened onto a horse or oxen so they can plow the field in the heat of the day! Jesus doesn’t say “here, let me take off your yoke and send you back to the barn to find rest.” No, the promise is that we can find rest for our souls—we can feel that sense of peace, and rightness, and a light burden—while we are in the middle of our normal lives. If we are wearing the right yoke and learning from Him.
Glorifying Exhaustion Is Not The Right Yoke!
Exhaustion has become the social norm amongst busy women. And let’s admit the hard truth: we often find ourselves glorifying the busy schedules, giving ourselves a pat on the back when we squeeze one more commitment into an already too-packed day, and admiring others who seem to handle the juggling act as if they were a professional in a three-ring circus. Even crazier, we also tend to consider ourselves lazy if we want a break from our busy schedules!
As we push ourselves beyond what we were designed to bear, we also overlook the physical and emotional signs that we’re doing too much. We rush at breakneck speed right into stress that God never intended us to bear. Remember? He gives rest to His loved ones. There are basic elements of self-care—diet, exercise, and sleep—that will help create balance in our lives. We need to do those things. But they don’t solve the problem. We have a bone-deep exhaustion because we are trying to be Superwoman.
We were not designed to do it all. We were designed to have to make choices. To prioritize. To realize that above a certain threshold, which is a whole lot lower than we like to think, every extra good thing we take on is a net negative for us and for God’s purposes for our lives.
Yes, we are busy—but we are not designed to be Superwoman. We need to let that idea go. (Can I get an amen from all my fellow exhausted sister soldiers out there?) You and I are racing from here to there, taking care of family members and homework and board meetings, juggling responsibilities and priorities. But it doesn’t have to come at the price of exhaustion, stress, and worry. Jesus promises us real rest on this crazy, wonderful journey called life. Yes, even on a business trip while fighting a terrible cold, a laundry list of to-do’s and a roomful of people counting on me. Let’s find rest together. It’s there for the taking—God’s word says so.
Excerpts used with permission of iDisciple Publishers from the book FIND REST by Shaunti Feldhahn
Popular speaker, best-selling author and groundbreaking social researcher Shaunti Feldhahn wants women to know that true rest and peace ARE attainable, and in her first devotional, Find Rest: A Women’s Devotional For Lasting Peace In a Busy Life (iDisciple Publishing, March 26, 2018), she leads women on a 60-day journey through scriptures and reflections that focus on eight essential elements of rest.