Seeking Rest

I said to myself, “Relax and rest.
God has showered you with blessings.
Soul, you’ve been rescued from death;
Eye, you’ve been rescued from tears;
And you, Foot, were kept from stumbling.”
— Psalm 116:7&8

Last week, I hit a milestone in my quest for rest: I felt anxious. We were getting ready for a party at a friend’s house, a place I’ve been to several times, a low-key event with people I love, and yet my introvert self felt agitated and shy and tired and reluctant to go. At first I didn’t recognize what those feelings added up to, and then it hit me—anxiety. For the first time in a long time, maybe even years, I felt anxious. This means that these months of attempting to rest—the PT, deep-tissue massage, dry needling, medications, trauma yoga, clear calendar, tapping, deep breathing, meditation, early bedtime, stretching routine—are finally starting to work. My body has relaxed enough for me to feel physical stress! Hallelujah.

I’m learning some things in this arduous process, like how many people are on the same road but how different our roads look. Like our dearest mentor and fearless leader Ann Voskamp. Her brilliant, poetic articulation of the connection between gratitude and drawing near to God mirrors my search, yet I somehow lack the ability to put pen to paper and start counting; I read her words, I’m in sync with her journey, I believe the truths she has discovered, but I am too far behind to start where she did. Dear Ann (may I call you Ann?), can you write a remedial version of your books for those of us who weep through yoga, who are too weary to sing on Sunday mornings, who lie on the floor next to our sleeping children at night and can’t explain why?

I have to say this weeping is new to me. During this season, which has lasted about 2 and a half years, I have cried plenty, but the tears have always been for things that are in the forefront of my life. Kara died, I cried. My son cracked his head open, I cried. My community has brokenness, I cry. Yet I sense deep-rooted pain never processed through, and I’m not sure how to bring it to the surface. So I’ve developed a highly scientific method of unearthing those emotions: on the evenings my husband works, I find a movie on Netflix I think might make me cry. I put my phone aside (no texting, voxing, or checking social media), I immerse myself in the sad story, and I try to cry. There is something so cathartic about crying and letting go, and I’ve discovered that any time I can cry and open the floodgates, my heart thaws a little bit more.

The outside of my heart is soft, but the inside is cold and hard and dark and sad and I can’t access it. Resting and crying and lamenting to Jesus is taking me step by step closer to just being a complete puddle before my Lord, honesty and vulnerability taking over so that I can stand before him and say, Here I am. And so that I can hear him say, a little clearer, You’ve been here all along, and so have I. I have loved you all along and my love for you has never diminished.

And maybe, because my heart will finally be thawed, I will finally believe him. The first step today is rest. I am resting toward Jesus, and he waits for me, with love and patience and grace. He holds space for me, never pressuring me, just delighting in me as he convinces me slowly but surely that it’s actually his love, and not my efforts, that is thawing my heart. Maybe that is part of learning to rest in Jesus—trusting that he has no expectations of me other than to trust him. To trust his love, his gentlemanly ways, his patience.

I have never sensed God bullying me into being someone I’m not or wagging his finger at me for not behaving a certain way. Instead, he delights in who he created me to be, and he invites me to discover, a little more each day, who that is by discovering, a little more each day, who he is. That is where the change comes from. How could I be the same after encountering that kind of holding-space, delighting-in, celebratory, inviting love?

Yes, this is rest. This is a taste of what is to come. This is peace. Being enveloped in love that has done all the work and simply invites me in, asks me to rest and bump into Grace on all sides. I’m learning that we were designed to engage Grace all day every day, not the brokenness of sin against us or of sinning against others. God’s children will experience the redemption of complete Grace someday in Heaven. For now, we spend our days nursing our wounds, agitated, retreating from ugliness all around and within. But resting with Jesus says, Come Home and be reminded of what it is to have condemnation removed, love lavished, fears squashed.

The question is, will I believe? Will you?

How is God loving you today? How is God holding space for you and waiting patiently for you? In what ways is God’s love thawing your heart? Do you believe his love for you? What is preventing you from trusting God’s love for you?