For the long Labor Day weekend, our family headed to the beach where we had been invited by friends to join them. I was grateful and wanted to be excited about spending a few days away at the beach, but reaching for rest required effort I was too tired to put forth. With project deadlines looming, a to-do list growing, and a demanding daily life, I resolved that while my family played along the ocean, I would sit on the sand and work.
But my body rejected my resolution. When we arrived at the beach house, I physically felt as though I was bearing the weight of a massive boulder on my head, neck, shoulders, and chest. The thought of finishing a book chapter or editing a blog post or even reading an email seemed to deplete what little of me that remained. I was too exhausted to push past the fatigue. My body gave me no choice. I had to press pause, be present in rest, and trust that everything under my charge — including my children — would be cared for. I scraped the depths of my reservoir to muster some gratitude and reminded myself:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down . . . (Psalms 23:2 KJV)
He made me stop. He made me retreat. He made me sit in a beach chair and stare at the ocean.
And I complied. The warm weather welcomed me. The ocean tides danced back and forth as if to say, “Hi, sister! We are so glad you decided to join us!” The sound of the waves crashing and splashing was hypnotic, like a distraction designed to soothe a busy mind. The wind whooshed and swished around my ears with loud whispers of glorious affirmations:
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I don’t have to fear the fear spewed at me through social media. Because God is with me, I am comforted.
My life-giving reservoir is so full that it overflows into the lives of those around me, especially my family.
Because I am flanked by goodness and mercy, I don’t have to be anxious about anything, not even my children’s well-being.
As I sat soaking in the harmony of the ocean, sun, and wind, restoration had her way with me. The weight seemed to dissipate. I was revived by the sun’s rays. As I immersed myself in the salt water, fresh cuts and wounds from piercing arrows washed away. While wading among the waves, I fully extended my hands to surrender mind, body, and spirit to restoration’s plan. I felt resurrected, alive again. I exhaled a smile of relief.
Meanwhile, the teenage daughters of our two families had spent a few hours together away from us parents. When we met them back at the beach house, I was met with wide-eyed faces, anxious to tell me about something that had occurred. My daughter proceeded to tell me that they had been walking along the road when a black pickup truck full of teenage White boys revved the engine at them, chased them, and yelled out the N-word! Frightened, our daughters ran and hid among the tall grass.
I was in shock. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t even make a sound or form a facial expression. I was simultaneously frozen with grief as my soul seemed to implode and collapse in on itself. The weight that my body had just released at the beach reaffixed itself to my chest, making it difficult to breathe. I went to a corner, sat in a rocking chair, and literally rocked myself. I was trying to make sense of it all. I had just experienced relief from what felt like crushing weight only to have it flung like a boomerang back to me. I had always hoped that my children would only ever read about this type of overt interpersonal racist bigotry but never experience it.
In the days that followed, I was left wondering if I had not surrendered to restoration, would my daughter’s experience have crushed me? If I had not listened to my body’s request for rest, not allowed restoration to have her way, and had refused nature’s invitation to play, I might have been broken by the incident. And in my brokenness, I might have acted impulsively — I wanted to find that black truck and retaliate, pack up immediately and get my family out of that town, or set something on fire! Instead, I reflected on His promise to always keep and be with my children.
I am grateful that He made me lie down, even when I was being defiant and tried to delay rest. I know that rest is essential to our design. But prior to this incident, I’d only thought of rest as a break from our weekly rhythms or a pause in our efforts to build a better something. But in rest, we not only recover from what was, restoration fortifies us for what is to come. He makes us lie down so that when life knocks us down, we can get back up.Leave a Comment