By Hannah Benac
Being the wife of an OBGYN resident and the mom of 2 young boys has brought new feelings and emotions I never knew I had. Throughout the course of residency I have experienced anxiety for the first time in my life. Not just worry, (although I do that often!) but true anxiety to the point where it has physically effected me. This happened quite a bit in our 1st year of residency and then subsided as we had our second child and (entered toddlerhood with our first.). Life was crazy.
Much to my surprise, these same anxious feelings resurfaced again just a few weeks ago. Now in our 4th (and final) year of residency, I thought I had grown accustomed to the rigorous schedule and moved past these unwanted feelings. The anxiety escalated so much that I took 5 pregnancy tests in the same week. I had all the symptoms of #3 being on the way…nausea, exhaustion, lack of motivation, and this knot in the middle of my chest I just couldn’t seem to shake. The tests were all negative but I began to get frustrated that I was feeling this way yet again. I kept telling myself we should be coasting through, counting down the days until we’re done… But somehow the days were still dragging on and to be honest I was having a really hard time just getting through.
One Sunday recently I found myself on my own again. My husband was on weekend call, leaving me alone to try and figure out how to get through the day with 2 small children who had already not seen their daddy all week. I was overwhelmed with the thought of being “on” all day yet again. I had used up all my ideas on Friday and Saturday for how to keep them busy and we still had another day to get through. I felt completely defeated before the day even started. By breakfast, I could feel the knot in my chest and my heart start beating faster and faster.
It was Sunday- this was supposed to be a Sabbath day of rest. In that moment I was feeling the complete opposite. …Exhausted, tired, spent, empty and in despair. . I began to realize as I thought about the meaning of Sabbath that this is something completely lacking in my life. When was the last time I ever truly rested? Do I even know how to rest? It was becoming obvious to me that my lack of rest was connected to my restless anxiety but how do I implement more rest in my life when my husband works insane hours and his schedule is always changing? I began going through my mental checklist of how to live a healthy lifestyle, making sure I had everything in place… “Am I eating well? Am I exercising? Am I in relationship with others? Am I serving? Am I in the word? Yes, yes, and yes! Sigh…I can’t seem to win. All my quick fixes weren’t working. All of this sent me on a quest to figure out what it really means to rest because apparently my checklist wasn’t cutting it.
I started in Psalm 23. This might be the most familiar psalm in the Bible but this time I read it in a new light (this always amazes me about scripture). This time I read with the theme of rest resounding in my mind.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads 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.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
Oh Jesus, thank you for this Psalm…you knew we needed it! This Psalm screams rest and actually defines for us what real rest is! We live in a culture that doesn’t practice this, and therefore most of us don’t know what rest truly is. We must go to the Creator of the rest to find out what he desires for us in this area of our life. Looking at key phrases in this Psalm brings out a whole new meaning to this word. Rest means “I shall not want, rest means “He leads me”, rest means “He restores my soul”. Rest means knowing He is with me in the midst of my enemies and trusting that “goodness and mercy are following me” and will continue to follow me. Not only do all good things come from Him (James 1:7) but the best is yet to come. Rest means “We will dwell in His house forever”
So when I was feeling exhausted it didn’t necessarily mean that I needed to lay down and take a nap (although sometimes this is absolutely necessary) but my spirit needed restoring. Rest…Restoration…Sabbath, all things God created because He knows us. He knows we’ll just keep searching, striving and spinning our wheels until we collapse. He not only created Sabbath but commanded it (Remember the Sabbath day and keep it Holy Ex 20:8- oh ya know, just one of the 10 commandments, no big deal)
God is always so good to meet our needs and help teach us new things about how to live abundantly. I believe implementing the kind of rest that restores my soul is a key component of experiencing true life in Him. Sabbath is not only just a time for us to rest and be restored but it’s a time to slow down enough to be able to love others well. In a recent sermon by Texas pastor Austin Fischer. He referred to Sabbath as the architecture of time- the framework for how we put time where it rightfully belongs. When we organize our time with God’s proper perspective, we find we aren’t slaves to it any longer. This enables us also to have much more of a propensity to treat others with kindness because it counters anxious productivity and replaces it with brotherly love. Sabbath isn’t just a day to rest but a day to love.
Oooohh, now I’m beginning to see. Being restored is not just about getting through the day but gathering joy as I go through it. I’ve found this is best done by slowing down enough to be able to meet a need, talk to a neighbor, or react in kindness and patience when something doesn’t go my way. So we are still busy but busy caring for people not just the things we feel like we have to do to keep life going. We are able to start living instead of merely surviving.
But guess what? These times of restoration and showing kindness have to be planned, they just won’t happen. We have a proclivity to drag our feet, procrastinate, and preoccupy ourselves with material tasks to the point that we don’t even taking a moment to look around us. My prayer is that we, as women, will be brave enough to fall behind in the things that the world hales as important so that we can implement time in our week for our own soul to be restored and to be used by God to restore the souls of others. Why? Because one day we WILL dwell in the house of the Lord forever, experience eternal rest, and celebrate all the times we set aside to love God and love our neighbor.
Questions for application:
-What brings you true rest and restoration?
-What can you give up in your week in order to make sure you have time to have a Sabbath (I think this can be small moments across multiple days or an entire day dedicated to this)
-Who in your life comes to mind you wish you had more time for? How will implementing this practice of rest help you to show kindness to them?
-Read and meditate on Psalms 23- ask the Lord to reveal to you what truly restores your soul?