When was the last time you challenged yourself to rest? Typically, we challenge ourselves to do something. But very rarely do we make it a goal to just simply rest.
In her book Sacred Rest Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD describes several types of biblically-based “sacred rest” practices. She addresses the importance of slowing down and incorporating these daily rhythms of rest into our lives. When we do this, we become more spiritually attentive, allowing God to work on a deeper level in our lives.
Over time, I have learned to implement these different types of rest into my daily routines. Here are several of my favorite sacred rest practices that have helped me live more fully in my identity as Christ’s ambassador in my school.
Spiritual rest occurs when we intentionally spend time resting in the Lord’s presence. During this time, we experience a profound connection with Him. We learn to abide in the Lord (John 15:5). We become more in tune with the leading of the Holy Spirit and more willing to follow His lead.
Challenge: Set time aside each day to rest in the Lord’s presence. During this time you can read Scripture, worship, share your heart in prayer, and/or sit in silence. Watch as your relationship with Him grows more intimate and your spirit becomes refreshed from this spiritual rest practice.
Physical rest consists of passive rest (sleeping and giving our bodies a chance to be still) and active rest (taking our bodies into a peaceful state through relaxing movements). When we provide both types of rest to our bodies, we become stronger, more energized, and better able to fulfill the physical demands of life.
Challenge: Create a consistent sleep schedule and be careful not to push your body past its limits. Create routines that include daily active rest, such as leisurely walks, stretching, and breathing exercises. Watch as your body becomes revitalized from this physical rest practice.
Mental rest takes place when we quiet the background noise in our lives so we can experience stillness. During this quiet time of calm, our minds get a break from the chaos and mental work that often contributes to teacher fatigue. As a result, our well-rested minds will feel sharp and alert.
Challenge: Limit mental activities that drain you (e.g., grading papers, checking email) to time blocks with firm beginning and ending times. Practice quieting your mind. Watch as your mind feels replenished and ready to tackle challenging tasks from this mental rest practice.
Social rest allows us to disengage from draining relationships—those coworkers, family, and friends who drain life from us, who require more support and encouragement than they give us. It also creates space for restorative relationships that revive and energize us. Spending time alone or with someone who encourages us and accepts our authentic selves can fill us up and refresh us.
Challenge: Identify which relationships drain you and which relationships restore you. Create and place clear boundaries around those that exhaust you and prioritize time spent with trustworthy, life-giving relationships. Watch as you build a storehouse of energy and become better equipped to pour into the lives of others from this social rest practice.
Incorporating sacred rest into your daily routine may take some time. It took a while for me to realize the areas of my life that I needed to adjust. But it was worth it. My relationship with God has grown more intimate, my body feels revitalized, my mind is replenished, and I am better equipped to embrace my identity as Christ’s ambassador in my school.
Perhaps it is time for you to challenge yourself to rest as I did. You can start now by slowing down, leaving something undone, or keeping an area of your calendar unscheduled. Walk, don’t run, through your journey with Jesus.
June Hetzel, Ph.D., Dean and Professor of Education at Biola University taught 18 years in K-12 prior to higher education. She specializes in literacy, curriculum development, and spiritual formation.
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