So often the idea of rest, of being still, is seen as lazy from the North American mindset. We brag about how busy we all are and use that as an excuse to avoid seeing people we don’t want to, exercising and taking care of our bodies, choosing foods that fuel our body, and reading scripture or spiritual materials that fuel our soul. Resting and being still simply means to take a break from the busy, from the rush, from the anxiety producing activity that is inauthentic with reality of human rhythm.
While here in Haiti I have wrestled with all of these ideas. When I first came down here I had a project to work on and in the midst of research, had a deadline that was 3 weeks into my trip. So, I worked day and night on the project, asking lots of questions, writing, researching, and preparing for a successful outcome. When everything was complete and submitted, I looked up and realized there were 4 weeks left in my trip!! So, for the first time since staying home with my youngest after he as born, I was without an agenda. Um, what? It has been interesting for sure. There were a few things that I wanted to experience and see while here, so I started asking around. That was an exercise in itself for me, and a growing experience. Since being here I’ve been to the beach, the mountains, to a coffee farm, to a sugar cane factory, to different parts of the city. I’ve gone to a couple different types of church services, and home group. I’ve ridden in a truck, a caged truck, a tap-tap, and moto. It has been exhilarating to adventure these weeks.
This trip came at a point of burnout.
The biggest way I can tell when I am at burnout is that I simply don’t care. When my mind knows that I should exercise compassion and empathy, grace and mercy, and all of the things that are part of who I am, and I don’t care that none of that is there. When my heart has hardened, and my mind is numb, burnout has occurred. It is time to make a change. I don’t think I realized the extent of the burnout until I was away. There was a knowing that things were at the edge, but finally being away has allowed space in my soul, mind, and body to breathe, think, and decompress.
It’s interesting how pervasive the North American mindset is. DO this, DO that. We are judged on our doing. On our producing. On our busyness. On how many activities we and our children are involved in. On our bank account, our retirement, the size of our house, the names on our clothes, and the list goes on. To not strive for those things, to rest and take a slower pace of life is to be seen as lazy, as not worth taking up space, as a waste of resources. And the message that is sent is that those people are losing at life.
This is the battle that has raged in my mind during this time of rest, that I should be “doing” something. I should be producing something. I should be solving all of the problems that are before me. What will I have to show for my time in Haiti? Will I be able to prove to others that this was valuable and needed, and not just a selfish adventure away from responsibilities.
Human BEING or Human DOING
One of the surprising realizations is that “being” is the best version of “doing” that needs to happen right now. Guilt free, condemnation free, simply being. Taking up space, taking up thoughts, journaling, conversing without an agenda. Listening, learning to hear again, allowing others to share their story without interjecting mine all over the place. These activities do not produce tangible, quantifiable results. What they do is allow for connection, with self, others, and God.
This trip has been a sabbatical in a sense. A time to reset. To reset the mind, the soul, the body. A place of disruption and restoration. A place for grace, compassion, and mercy towards myself. A place to wrestle thoughts, ideals, and ideas. A place to converse with people on all sides of the conversation. A place to see the different sides and give humanity to all. A place to regain the confidence in myself. This confidence comes with a feeling of purpose, a knowing that I don’t need to fit a mold, an American standard. A quiet resolution that I was created with a particular set of passions, thought patterns, energy levels, personality traits, and that they culminate in a way that uniquely fits the purposes set before me. My journey looks different than others, and that is ok. Your journey will look different than mine, and that is ok.
When we take the time to step outside of the American media machine and simply listen to our soul, we will find the next step to take. It really doesn’t matter the 5 year plan, 10 year plan, or more. What matters is that we learn to be authentic with ourselves, and to take the next right step on the journey. And then take the next right step from there. My God has shown me that He is faithful when I do just that, and He is taking me on the grandest adventure I could ever ask for.
The adventure has brought wholeness. Purpose. Compassion. Joy. Peace. How could I possibly say no to that?
So I encourage you to listen to your soul. Take time to rest. To reset. To step away for a time and become observant of your own life. The harder it is to hear your soul, the more desperately you need to rest.
- Are you purposeful in taking times to rest?
- How do you build rest and restoration into your life?
- Have you experienced burnout? What happened, and how did you recover?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and if you are brave, would you share them below? Others may be encouraged by hearing your journey through burnout, rest, and restoration as well.