So, clearly we weren’t sleeping…
We were resting and relaxing on some glorious green grass on a trip to visit Clay’s sister and her family up in San Francisco. And I love these photos because they make me think of Psalm 23. And then even as I write this I realize this is week 23 of this series… And then I think of how cool God is like that.
Psalm 23 says this:
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:1-4
This weekend I was honored to be a (small, tiny, minuscule) part of an amazing women’s conference called Lift16. I learned so much, it truly felt like I was being sprayed with a firehose of knowledge of God-breathed Truth from some truly wise – and incredibly witty – women.
I could not recap all that I learned, but one thing that really stood out to me and convicted me of my life and what I need to work on is… resting, slowing down, and doing – heaven forbid! – one thing at a time.
As the Lift leadership team celebrated over a homemade-pizza-after-party, I stood and I thanked these women for inviting me to be a part of it all. I told them I feel so much better equipped to enter into marriage in just two weeks after having been to this conference.
I know that in marriage our flaws will be magnified, and that areas I need to work on will be areas that affect not only me, but my husband as well. And then when we have children, those areas will affect them, too. And I know this of myself: I need to work on cultivating Shalom.
You’ve heard it before, I’m sure. It means complete peace. And it is the antidote to anxiety.
This weekend I learned in a session led by Lisa Hamel that anxiety and stress can be created by “serial-tasking” (or what our culture believes to be multi-tasking). However, as it turns out when you think you are multi-tasking, you are really just serial-tasking – or doing one thing after another so quickly that your brain is not happy and you are not really doing anything that well at all. Sounds like the opposite of complete peace to me.
I was convicted of how often I find myself serial-tasking. This season of engagement has been one of particularly heavy serial-tasking. But I know that it is a tendency of mine – no matter what season of life – and one I need to address.
I constantly have a “to do” list on my phone that’s longer than I’ll ever have time to actually complete in one day. But something Christy Tebow Allen so wisely said in one of her talks put it into perspective. She said:
“Sometimes God’s to do list is a lot shorter than ours.”
Sometimes it’s more important for us to be with people, to look them in the eyes, and to enjoy their presence instead of crossing things off our “to do” lists. Sometimes it’s more important for us to cease producing and start resting.
Not only is it important, it is necessary.
Something else I learned this weekend is that we have two states: “Joy” and “Shalom.” Joy is our high energy state; Shalom is our low energy state. And we cannot sustain either of them all the time. We need them both. We need a balance.
In the same way a baby cannot sustain a joyful expression for too long, we can’t sustain “going” and “doing” and being “on” all of the time. We must counter our “joy” with “shalom.”
Priscilla Shirer talks of creating “Sabbath Spaces” in her book, the Resolution for Women. She says:
“Are we so addicted to constant movement (even to our stress?) that we just don’t know how to relax anymore? Are we so driven to performance and perfection that we can’t see any value in a slowly paced day?”
“Only the woman living with grace and pursuing peace will prioritize enough to see the value in Sabbath spaces… She knows that nothing is enjoyable when there’s too much to be enjoyed.”
Nothing is enjoyable when there’s too much to be enjoyed. Amen to that.
All of the things I am constantly working toward, striving to achieve, crossing off my list are great and wonderful things that are pleasing to the Lord (for the most part!) Acting, writing, working, doing ministry, planning a wedding – these are all great things… But not when they overtake and sink the balance of the scale completely to “joy” leaving “shalom” high and dry.
We all need balance. We all need Shalom. We all need rest.
We – myself more than most – need to learn to stop, to pause, to Sabbath. Our souls need it. Our relationships need it. Our spouses need it.
I have just two weeks left of engagement. (Praise, Jesus!) There are a million loose ends to tie up and countless things to cross off my “to do” list. My prayer is that I would do them well, that I would do them with joy, and that I would do them one at a time. But my prayer is also that I would practice Shalom, that I would stop, that I would slow down, that I would disconnect in order to connect with the ones that I love – especially my fiancé.
I need this for my health. I need this for my heart. I need this for my sake, for my fiance’s sake, and for the sake of the One who created me.
God didn’t make a mistake when He created us this way. Even He, Himself, rested on the seventh day. So whether you are planning a wedding or simply living your life, I encourage you to find your Sabbath Spaces, to fight for Shalom, and to rest in green pastures – wherever those may lie for you.
“We’ve bought into the lie that rest is not essential – that it’s either not necessary or that it’s a waste of time.” – Drew Sams, Bel Air Church
“Breathe, breathe, fill your lungs with better air.” – Steve Moakler, Wide Open
“Cease striving and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10