I’ve been a performer and achiever for as long as I can remember. When I was three, I was thrilled to master riding a two-wheeler before my older sister. When I was seven, I raced my best friend Jack to see who could climb to the tippy top of a towering tree first. Growing up, I took every honors class and joined every school club, sports team, and student council I could.
In high school, it was edging toward midnight and I was working to finish a term paper, again. I sat in our upstairs landing in front of a huge clunky white Macintosh computer feverishly typing away (probably waiting for the dial-up internet to connect. Bless.)
“Rebecca Dee!” my mom called up from the bottom of the stairs. “Are you still doing homework?”
“Yeah, almost done,” I lied.
“It’s too late! Just go to bed and take the B!” she hollered.
Go to bed and settle for a B? Stop striving and accept less than the best? It was the most preposterous suggestion my adolescent ears had ever heard. Clearly, I suffered from “The Triple P”: People-pleasing, Perfectionist, and Performance issues. (Well, I guess that’s four p’s.)
I’m not sure when or how the belief took root — maybe out of my desire for control and security as a child of divorce, maybe as the youngest of three sisters who was desperate to be noticed. Whatever the reason, I believed I was what I achieved. Maybe sometimes I still believe that.
My default is to hinge who I am on what I produce. But I’m learning to combat my natural tendency with the truth: God loves me because I am His daughter. Period. Unattached to what I do, I am loved by God.
Any personal growth I’ve had in this area of my life is rooted in understanding my identity in Christ. God’s gentle, patient guidance keeps drawing me back to Himself again and again and again. (He for sure gets all the credit.)
Part of my journey has been learning to reframe the way I see rest and productivity. Rest is not a hindrance to performance — like my high school self adamantly believed; rest is its own kind of productivity. Without physical sleep and mental breaks, we simply cannot perform to the best of our ability. Even more, rest is essential to experiencing God. Certainly, the Lord’s command to keep a Sabbath points to how serious He is about rest. He put it in the top ten things He wanted His people to make central to their lives in Him. I could write a whole article or twenty on the Sabbath alone!
But today I’m reminding myself, and maybe you need to hear this too, that taking productivity off the pedestal I’ve placed it on isn’t meant to be a once-a-week act of trust and surrender. Rest is not reserved for a Sunday full-stop. Rest can (and dare I say, should) be part of our everyday lives, seven days a week. Even more, what if rest isn’t just pausing productivity and ceasing striving? What if rest is joy and soul care? What if rest is experiencing the fullness of life in slow moments weighed down with gratitude and wonder?
This is what I’m learning. And it’s marvelous and hard in a weak-muscle-getting-stronger kind of way. As I choose to believe I am loved for who I am and not for what I do, I am able to love myself, others, and God even more. It’s the craziest thing.
Here are my current favorite ways to rest:
- Read a novel
- Take a long shower
- Nap when I’m tired
- Be present at my boys’ baseball games
- Schedule coffee with a friend
- Play a card game
- Go on a neighborhood walk or local hike
My friend Mindy has started painting to rest, relax, and enjoy the wonder of color and quiet moments. I asked her if I could invite myself over to try it with her sometime. It won’t be productive or performative. It won’t be something to check off my list or post on Instagram. But I have a hunch God will meet me there. In the same way He meets me in the delight of a complex fictional character or morning sunshine illuminating leaves like mini green lanterns, in the same way He whispers comfort to my soul as I drift off to sleep for an afternoon snooze or cheer on my boy who as he makes a great catch, God’s presence will be with me.
Elevating my own productivity puts the focus on me. Leaning into creative rest retrains my heart to focus on God — the provider of everything I need.
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
Psalm 23:1-3a (NLT)
I’ve heard it said before that we are human beings, not human doings. May we choose to be in Him, with Him, today.Leave a Comment