When Do You Rest?

“Is nap time over now?” my daughter asks for the fifteenth time in the same amount of minutes.

“No, Marie. Go back to your room.”

Casually (and oh-so-conveniently), she wanders through the play area on her way back to her room. “Can I take this car with me to my room?”

“Having another toy in your room won’t help you rest. Leave it alone and go to bed.”

She huffs her displeasure—making sure she’s putting on a good show—before returning to her room empty-handed.

From one bedroom, my one-year-old wails, pleading to be let out of her crib. From the next room, my three-year-old starts kicking the walls. Or doing construction.

“Lord, please help them rest,” I beg, imagining the rest of the day without naps.

Loud voices. Tears. Whining. Tantrums.

“Seriously, God,” I pray. “Help them sleep. They’re so much better off when they’ve rested.”

But I can’t even fold my hands in prayer.

My hands are too busy folding four loads of laundry. I need to fly through them so I can unload the dishwasher, refill it with the dirty stuff piled in the sink, clean the house, and hope I can squeeze in a blog before nap time ends. When the kids wake up, it’ll be time to shovel snacks down their throats, cart them off to gymnastics, then race back home to greet the babysitter so my husband and I can make a youth group engagement up at church.

Rest. 

I can almost hear God say it.

When do YOU rest?

I look around at all the junk littering the countertops, the dishes crusted with day-old food, the overflowing hampers. And those are just the things I can see from my spot on the living room rug.

How on earth can I rest when I’ve got so many things to do? So many people to take care of?

To me, the answer is clear: I can’t.

So I get back to praying that my kids will sleep so I can be productive.

In that moment, I can almost hear God chuckling. At the hypocrisy. The immaturity. The self-righteousness of it all. Like the world depends on me to make it turn. Like organizing the countertops has some sort of priority in the grand scheme of things. Like it will alter someone’s life if it doesn’t happen.

The fog of fatigue settles in my head, and I imagine how the remainder of the day will look without rest.

Loud voices. Tears. Whining. Tantrums.

But this time they’re mine. My stern brow, my short fuse. The deep breaths through my nostrils when I’m about to lose it.

My kids pick up on these things and copy them. In those moments, they look too much like their mother and nothing at all like their Father.

Because of me. Because of my weariness. My refusal to rest.

Casually (and oh-so-conveniently) I unplug my phone from its charger on my way to the sofa.

“Can I at least bring my phone and read a little? Scroll through Facebook?” I wonder.

But having a toy with me won’t help me rest. Even a three-year-old could understand that. So I leave it there, just one more thing junking up the counter. One more thing I’ll have to take care of later.

I walk, empty-handed, over to the sofa and stand there with gritted teeth. Like I need to mentally prepare myself to lie down.

How is the absence of work the hardest work to do? 

But the moment the cushions absorb my body, I feel better. Less hurried. Less anxious. Less fatigued. Rest, I realize, has some sort of priority in the grand scheme of things. It alters people’s lives when it doesn’t happen. Not only is my own life affected, but the lives of my children and husband as well.

My mind clears, the fog of fatigue rolling away, and His words finally come.

Everyone is better off when you’ve rested.

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