When Macyn first came home, I was consumed with all things motherhood and a medically fragile child, and I truly believed the best way to care for her was to completely die to myself and my needs. It was only years later, with three kids in my care, and a lot more crazy in my day, that I began to see the importance of choosing myself by choosing rest. When I actually did take a break from my job as a mom, I discovered my kids were just fine under someone else’s care. I also discovered that what I needed most was neither self-care nor total sacrifice—the thing I needed was rest.
The form that rest takes will look different for each of us, but all of us have to first make space for it in our lives. Although rest is ordained by God, who created the Sabbath, I know it doesn’t come easy for many of us, which is why we have to make it happen. But here’s the thing. Rest is about more than stepping away from the kids to get our nails done or spend a day at the spa. Rest is a posture of the heart.
Allow me to repeat that.
Rest is a posture of the heart.
Rest is not about doing what we want when we want to because we deserve it, but about recognizing our need for a God-ordained pause. A pause that requires us to step away from our hands-on job as a mom long enough to reconnect with the heart of God—which in turn helps us be a better mom, wife, friend, and human being. And that’s why I feel twitchy about what our culture considers self-care. Self-care connects us to our self, not to the heart of God.
So, what’s the difference between self-care and rest?
Self- care is getting the manicure because you feel you’ve earned it and you desperately need a break from the kids. Rest is getting the manicure because you recognize the distance that has developed between you, God, the kids, or others, and you need to step away long enough to catch your breath, reflect, and pray. Do you see the different postures of the heart in these two scenarios?
When we take the time to rest, whether relaxing at the spa, going for a walk, eating dinner with friends, or sitting in silence for five minutes (because let’s be real, mamas, some days that is all we’ve got!), we can more clearly see God’s love for us—which leads to a clearer picture of God’s love for all of humanity, helping us love others in return. I believe authentic self-care looks like rest, and this makes me feel less twitchy because when we stop confusing rest with self-care and see it instead as a posture of the heart, we find that rest is something that’s not just for the advantaged but is available for all the mamas in the world.
As we navigate this life and as we raise our kids, I believe our own personal health, as well as the health of humanity, is dependent on our ability to see the space we are taking up in the world, and then to scoot over and make more space for those who don’t yet have a seat at the table. But how can we see the space we are taking up in the world if we don’t step back and rest long enough for this truth to come into focus?
If I could go back in time to that noisy restaurant, I think I’d have a different response to my sister’s question, “Do you ever feel like you’ve lost yourself? You know, since having kids?” I hope I’d say something healthier, something like, “I used to think that motherhood meant losing myself, but now I think it’s more about finding myself in the very best ways.”
I am so thankful for all I’ve learned from both my stay-at-home mama friends and my working-mama friends. For the ways in which they have taught me how I can’t make room for others until I’m able to make room for myself. The tricky part of actually implementing this rest thing is that our work as mamas is never done. I have yet to hear a mama say at the end of the day, “Well, everything is checked off my list. I have nothing left to do!” This never happens because it is, in fact, a trick list—as soon as you check off the last item, ten more appear. The list of ways in which we can give of ourselves for our children is never-ending.
So, dear mom friends, go ahead and put “take a break” at the tippy top of your to-do list. For your own health, for the health of your children, and for the health of our world, it is time for you to find—or perhaps more accurately, to create—a space for rest.
Taken from Scoot Over and Make Some Room by Heather Avis. Copyright © 2019 by Heather Avis. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.Zondervan.com.