“Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?” Mary Oliver
When I was younger, I didn’t believe in rest.
Especially as a new mom, my reserve didn’t feel empty because my heart felt so full. When I was tired, a nap made everything better. I was good to go again.
But with age I have changed my tune. I have seen firsthand how not making time for rest leads to burnout, exhaustion, loneliness, emptiness, and lost joy.
Some exhaustion can’t be cured with a nap, a vacation, or traditional ideas of self-care. Some exhaustion seeps deeply into our bones, and only time with God and healthy lifestyle rhythms can truly restore us.
Sadly, we often feel like we can’t rest as moms. We worry that if we stop moving, we may crash or lose momentum.
And what then? Who will hold the family together? What if it all comes unglued? What if our rest leads to chaos – and we end up more stressed than before? Nobody knows the family juggling act quite like mom, so we stay in motion and resign ourselves to living with overwhelm.
Clearly, this isn’t sustainable. And when we stay in this cycle, our family feels like a burden. We get irritated as they enjoy themselves while we work hard.
Moms, it may be hard to believe this, but the world will keep turning if you rest. Your family won’t go up in flames, and you won’t lose momentum. Instead, you’ll recharge. You’ll gain distance from your stress and problems. You’ll feel lighter and happier as you bond with other moms over the highs and lows of life.
In the Bible, Jesus said to give our burdens to Him. He modeled healthy lifestyle rhythms. Since people always needed Him, He set boundaries around His time. He showed us how to rest, even in times of pressure.
- Before choosing the 12 apostles, Jesus retreated to a mountaintop to pray all night. (Luke 6:12-13)
- In the middle of a fierce storm with His disciples, He fell asleep on a boat. (Matthew 8:24)
- After hearing about John the Baptist’s death, He withdrew on a boat to grieve in a solitary place. (Matthew 14:13)
- He ate His last meal before death with only his disciples. (Matthew 26:17–29)
- He kept the Sabbath holy. (Luke 4:16)
Rest is essential to long-term health. It recalibrates the soul, amplifies God’s voice, and brings peace. But rest has never felt more elusive because we live in a world of unrest. Besides family, work, and personal responsibilities, you face 24/7 demands for your time – nonstop emails, beeps, and notifications – that make everything feel urgent.
When I grew up, it was considered rude to call someone after 9 pm. Families had a buffer that let them to rejuvenate at home. But now that buffer is gone. It’s no longer taboo to reach out at a crazy hour. Today’s world has no boundaries, and this presents more ways to spend your time – and compare yourself to other moms.
The good news is, it’s not all urgent. With God’s help, you can prioritize what is important over what is urgent. What someone else considers “urgent” may not be part of His plan for you, and rather than let external demands drive your schedule, you can pause and listen to Him.
People who know me well may laugh that I’m writing about rest. I am, after all, the quintessential busy bee. But as I approach my 50th birthday, I’m gaining perspective. I’m aware that humans tend to veer toward burnout or inaction, and Type-A personalities will crash, burn, or snap if we don’t pace ourselves. The traits that people applaud us for — responding quickly, working non-stop, thriving on activity, and keeping an impossible pace to feel accomplished and stay in others’ good graces — ultimately take a toll on our health and soul.
Countries like America glorify the hustle. We treat busy like a badge of honor. But if you ask me, it’s clear we have a problem based on the many best-selling products and trends that promise to ease our stress. Weighted blankets, CBD oil, essential oils, melatonin tablets, diffusers, therapy dogs, sound machines, yoga, meditation, aromatherapy candles, silent retreats, and popular apps like Headspace and Calm are all a sign of our times. They show how desperate we are to escape the frantic pace of society and the restlessness inside our minds.
We all have crucial work to do, and we all want our lives to matter. But we’ll never be our best selves if we live with our hair on fire. To go the distance, we need grace and downtime. We need to stop, breathe, pray, and give thanks for the life we’ve been given.
One comfort of the Christian life is knowing how God works with small offerings. He values your heart over your output — and multiplies what you give Him. Like His miracle of turning 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread from a young boy into a feast for 5,000 people, He’ll work through you at any capacity. So if you’re tapped out, it’s okay. Just bring what you have to the table, and let God take it from there.
Mothers need rest for the reasons everyone needs rest: Because we are human beings, not human doings. Your value comes from being a child of God, not outward success. Even on your best days, you have limits. You need rest and renewal. Value your health as you hope your children will value theirs. Help the next generation learn from our mistakes — and understand the cost of a life that stays perpetually busy.
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My new book for girl moms AND boy moms is coming soon! More Than a Mom: How Prioritizing Your Wellness Helps You (and Your Family) Thrive, will release April 5 and is the perfect Mother’s Day gift. Pre-order now to get the lowest price between now and April 5 and amazing pre-order incentives. If you love audiobooks, you can pre-order on Audible, where I am the narrator!
My other bestselling books, Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter , 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know and Liked, have been used widely across the U.S. for group studies.
Posted by Kari on February 28, 2022