Last Saturday, I rested.
I’m not sure what sort of picture came to mind when you read that. Did you imagine me in a hammock, my feet kicked up, book in hand, red Cardinal singing overhead? It’s true, I enjoy a sit-down in the backyard every now and then. But, that’s not always what serves as rest, for me. And, when it comes to resting, a nap is usually the furthest thing from my mind.
Last Saturday, I made lasagne for a friend who’s in the middle of a bed-rest-required pregnancy. She’s got one son who’s not yet two-years-old, and a high power job she loves and that keeps her mind busy and fulfilled for eight hours a day, five days a week. But, she doesn’t have permission from her doctor to lift casserole dishes in and out of the oven, or to stand over a kitchen sink after the dishes have been cleared. I like to cook, and I’m pretty good at it, and Saturday found me in the kitchen, boiling noodles and stirring sauce while that Cardinal sang from the branches outside.
It had been a long time since I’d cooked dinner like that. Traveling and speaking and writing and H’s and my crazy schedules have warranted a grab-and-go eating style these past few weeks. I haven’t gotten to chop the vegetables to sauté in olive oil, or season a chicken, or simmer a broth. So, Saturday, I was in my element. And, once I’d gotten started, I couldn’t stop.
While the lasagne noodles boiled on the stove, I noticed three and a half overripe bananas, resting in a bowl on the counter. They needed some attention, so I whipped up a batch of banana bread—flour handprints on denim and spatulas dripping with sugary vanilla. Before I knew it, I was baking a cake, too. The cake baked in the oven after the lasagne was done, and I stirred butter and powdered sugar and milk and vanilla for frosting when the cake was cooled. Brownies baked in an 8×8 pan, and I covered them with Press and Seal and placed them in a paper bag, on top of the lasagne, and beneath a loaf of Italian bread and a tin of salad with peperoncini and black olives and Feta cheese, for my friend with a baby on the way.
The cake will make its way to a house with two boys, and the banana bread was served up in church the next day. My kitchen was a mess, and when the banana bread spilled over in the oven, H propped up a fan in the window to pull the smell of burned batter out of the kitchen and into the outdoor air. The cake was overdone on the edges, and it fell in the middle. But there was frosting, and there were sprinkles. My friend got to follow the doctor’s orders and focus on growing a baby. And I got to rest.
Rest isn’t always about being perfectly still, and if the spilled batter and fallen cake aren’t enough to convince you, it’s not about being perfect, at all. For me, rest sometimes looks like cake batter and frosting and flour handprints on denim. It took a long time for me to realize that. I’ve tried to make this restless body take a nap, and I always get up from the bed feeling worse than when I laid down. I’m not a very good napper. Sometimes rest looks like a run on the treadmill, or a long afternoon on a stepladder with a paintbrush in my hand. Sometimes, it’s exhausting, but rest always fills us to the brim.
I’ve heard lots of women talk about feeling guilty for resting, and it’s worse when we feel guilty for the way we rest. But God wired us the way we are for a reason. When he rested on that first, seventh day, he set a model for us to follow. I’m pretty sure God didn’t need a nap, so I don’t think a nap is what is meant by “rest” in that second chapter of the bible. Napping definitely has its place. I’m married to an expert napper and I can attest it’s a game-changer for many people. But taking a nap isn’t the only form of rest. Instead, I think the model God established is one that reminds us to be sure to breathe.
Take stock. Reflect. Selah. Find a soft place to land. Find that place where you feel at home in your skin. Find something that brings you joy, and that makes space for the Holy Spirit to shine, and whatever that something is…do it. To the glory of God.
- What is the thing that brings you joy and that helps you catch your breath?
- Have you ever considered that thing you enjoy might be rest?