When life gets heavy and anxiety starts to make its way into my mind where peace should live, I run. Literally, and physically, I run. As an Enneagram 8 who craves intensity, I find my release when I move my body. So I reach for my headphones, throw on my running shoes, press ‘play’ on that Spotify playlist, and head for the door. The second my feet hit the pavement, my mind goes blank to the world around me as I focus only on the road ahead, and that’s when I temporarily find a rhythm of peace. That momentary distraction has the power to change the course of my entire day, and for some reason, that’s how I was created. I was created to find Jesus in the steady rhythms of movement. It’s where I find my strength, as my body grows tired, and the challenge of the road ahead pushes me forward.
A crisis has a way of pulling the need for movement out of me and turning it up to a level 100. And when my run or workout doesn’t do it for me, I clean my house, incessantly. Kitchen cabinets are organized to the nines, floors are swept and mopped… and my closet? Forget it! There are bags and bags full of clothes that are screaming to be donated. Then, when all is said and done and there isn’t a corner left untouched, I sit. I sit, but I don’t rest because my mind is racing faster than my feet on that pavement.
When my world feels unhinged, my anxiety becomes unhindered, and the voice of Jesus who whispers, ”Rest in me,” is overshadowed by the intent to distract myself. To distract me from my lack of control and the emotions I don’t want to face. To distract me from facing the fact that when I go into crisis mode, my body goes into overdrive, which only leaves my soul hungry for sound peace.
These past few months have been difficult, and you guys, before this virus, rest was already something I had to be intentional about! I would much rather work, move and strive than force myself to sit and face how I’m feeling or acknowledge that actually, I’m not in control of anything, especially the changes that have been thrown at me lately, or ever! So my response to chaotic hardships has always been to overcompensate by striving in the areas I can control; my home, and my body.
But here’s the deal, friends. Jesus warned us that troubles would come. In John 16, verse 33 (NIV), He keeps it real by saying troubles will interrupt our lives. Jesus wasn’t in the business of sugarcoating anything, but at the same time, He graciously spoke hard truths. Because just as our minds fixate on the meaning of the words, “crisis” and “trouble”, He interrupts our train of thought by derailing us with hope.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.
That small, simple statement has impacted me in tremendous ways this week. As I have been striving, His whispers have been getting louder, ”Beloved, rest in my hope. Rest in me.”
If it’s not COVID-19 that’s stealing our joy and robbing us of our peace, something else is going to try. Fear and doubt have a way of slipping in when a crisis comes, and it can be easy to run ourselves into the ground with the intention of distracting ourselves, but that’s when we miss out on the blessing of rest.
Rest is essential during a crisis. It’s how we recover and prepare ourselves for the next battle. It’s how we discern the truths from the lies, and it’s where we remember whose we are and the unfailing hope available to us through Jesus. If we are constantly avoiding rest by distracting and striving, then we miss out on the opportunity to sit at His feet and draw nearer to Him. Fear roots itself in the absence of time spent with the Father.
So, in an effort to come alongside you in this battle for rest amidst the storms and wars of life, I want to give you some practical tools that have helped me lately.
- Remember Whose You Are.
The second fear creeps into your mind, seeking to steal your rest while the “what ifs” start flying, take a breath and turn to Isaiah 43. Wherever you are, read the first 13 verses. The entire paragraph is a solid anthem and oath from your Heavenly Father proclaiming that you are His. A promise that says when you pass through deep waters they will not overtake you and that when you walk through the fires of hell on earth you will not be defeated. Why? Because the hope of who you are in Him is far more powerful than any storm that could ever threaten to consume you! Friend, anchor yourself, not in what the world is screaming at you, but what the Lord says over you! Rest in His truth and listen to His voice in the midst of your battles. Fight for the unshakeable truth about who you are in Him rather than give in to the momentary fear of today. You are His, a Child of God! And because of this truth, it doesn’t sit well with Your Heavenly Father when His children are being trifled with. So look at your storm with holy confidence and speak to it about the mighty power of your God and the hope you have in Him.
- Be Intentional About Searching for Joy.
Personally, I have been challenged in this season to intentionally search for joy amidst my own chaos. Friends, the storms of life will never be able to hinder the blessings of Jesus. He is not swayed or intimidated by your battle, and as He comes alongside you to lift you up, He aches to bring you joy through His everyday blessings. Resting is much easier when we adjust our mindset and remember that God is good and He wants us to unwrap the gift of His joy every single day! To remind myself of this, I keep a journal. I call it my “Joy Journal” and its sole purpose is to record the blessings I find each day. Every day I give myself a goal of listing 3-5 things that bring me joy in my Joy Journal. I’ve found that when I’m intentional about looking for His blessings, I’m much more able to clearly see how He has abundantly blessed me! The smallest, simplest thing has the power to remind me of who He is…Good. Nehemiah 8, verse 10, reminds me that ”the joy of the Lord is my strength.” Training myself to keep my eyes peeled for His blessings found in my everyday moments is helping me to rest in His goodness and find strength in His joy.
- Find Balance.
This one is difficult because giving into the habit of distractions like drinking, running, working, cleaning, and ignoring, is far easier for me than facing reality. We over-consume to forget, but how funny is it that it leaves us so empty. Running and working out can positively help you destress, and binge-watching Netflix isn’t always bad! A glass of red wine with Reese Witherspoon’s ”Sweet Home Alabama” is a great way to spend any day! But guys, when we use the very things that are meant to bring us moments of happiness and turn them into excuses not to deal with our present situations, these things become unhealthy. When we are running so hard that we’re mentally, physically, and emotionally drained, we’ve fallen off balance. We’ve forgotten to seek the Lord’s voice and hear what He says over our storm, and because of that, we run dangerously on empty. I know it’s hard, but I encourage you to let go of your clenched fists aching for control and give in to the sweet whisperings of Jesus. Find your balance at His feet, and you will find rest for your weary soul as you trust that He is enough in every situation. You can’t find rest if you’re not facing reality, and you can’t face reality without finding balance. And balance begins with seeking Him.
Life’s storms will come, but take heart, because His hope never fades and His love never fails. It’s possible to find rest amidst the chaos, but it takes intentionality and a level of trust as you let go and give into Jesus.
Sister, Jesus will always be waiting to give you rest if you would only take a second to pause and listen for His voice. It’s a soft yet powerful thunder that commands the waves of the sea to still and the swaying of the boat to cease.
Go to Him no matter how big your battle, unhinged and unhindered, and you will find rest for your soul.