In the year of 2009, our partner in business and best friend died of a sudden heart attack at the age 43. Why did he die so young? He didn’t get enough rest. Next week, I turn 43.
Are we the first generation to ignore rest? I’m sure the answer to that is no. Actually many Biblical scholars will tell you that they pinpoint the fall of the Israelites beginning with ignoring one of the Ten Commandments instructing them to rest one day a week, what they called the sabbath.
Today, I’d like to take a fresh unique look at this ancient practice in hopes we can put new lenses on an old topic.
Putting time aside for rest is a practice that is not foreign to any society since the beginning of man. Many religions promote this practice as essential for their followers claiming peace, hearing from God, and a calm mind being the result. But as much talk as there is on this topic, it is not played out in western society these days. With my friends early heart attack on my mind, I began my research looking at the physical impact of lack of rest.
My grandma told me her joints are getting weaker, so I told her to roll them tighter.
Some of you got that one. Truthfully, none of us want to take on the pains of aging but research shows the best way to stay young is to rest often and fully. Lack of rest and sleep decreases productivity and is linked to many chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, mental health disorders, and blood disorders.
Rest seems to be God’s plan to heal our bodies. Any athlete will tell you rest is essential for physical training. Rest is needed for muscles to repair themselves and prevent injury.
When many people get tired, they quit. Often we push ourselves not realizing that the time off is what we need to accomplish our goals. Without it, we fatigue and give up!
“Sometimes you need to sit lonely on the floor in a quiet room in order to hear your own voice and not let it drown in the noise of others.”
― Charlotte Eriksson
What about our minds? Here we need a reality check. Look closely at the info graph below. Look at all of the up arrows meaning that our lives as Americans, are much busier than ever before!
Ask many of yesterday’s philosophers and they will tell you rest is essential for the mind. Leonardo da Vinci said, “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.” And Ovid, the Roman poet, said, “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” Your mind requires rest.
Ask corporate leaders and they will tell you that rest is essential for productivity. Forbes magazine recently wrote, “You can only work so hard and do so much in a day. Everybody needs to rest and recharge.” Your productivity requires rest.
Therefore, when it comes to ancient traditions of sabbath day rest, are you getting the quiet, rest, and sleep you need to be healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually? The answer for me was “no.”
After suffering for 2 years from panic attacks, I began taking the sabbath and other times of rest seriously.
I now value quiet for the brain, especially long periods of silence. (You tend to start valuing that after your 4th kid!) Before I experienced my first panic attack, I was happy. I was busy. My life was poured out for others and I enjoyed every minute of it. But, 6 months before the panic attack, the stress increased. Instead of finding rest, I pushed harder. I gave up the Sunday rest to teach others, attend gatherings, and then have meetings with leaders. I began calling Saturday my day of rest. But, this too was quickly filling up with kids activities and errands we needed to run. The only way I can explain it is that my brain went on overload. It started racing and couldn’t be quiet. I couldn’t make it stop no matter how many times I tried. It too me 2 years to overcome panic attacks in my life. I am now panic attack free for 8 months.
What about the spiritual need for rest? Was the Sabbath intended for rest or activity? I am treading deep waters here so I will leave that question sitting unanswered. But, I desire to say that we tend to fill every moment with busyness even our spiritual pursuits are noisy. But, when does your soul find rest? To read more on this: Meditation As The Foundation Of My Spiritual Walk: Part 1
“Thou hast made us for yourself, Oh Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.” Augustine of Hippo
Rest and quiet are essential for spiritual growth. You can read every book on spirituality and memorize the Bible but without quiet rest, I believe you will not experience spiritual maturity. How can I be so certain? Beginning with the Ten Commandments to Jesus, who defined it for us, teaching that the sabbath day was a day of rest for the benefit of man (Matt. 2:27). If Jesus thinks its important for my betterment, than I do too.
We are a society that does not value quiet and rest. We no longer believe that we need it or we think that this can be done later in life. The question we need to ask, in light of these glaring obvious issues, is what do I value more in my life than rest.
So when is your quiet? Hate to be cras, but the toilet use to be quiet until iphone. When you wake up? Or is it a race to begin the days activities or read the news?
That is why I write to you my friend. After losing a good friend and suffering myself, I have come to realize the physical consequences of ignoring the body’s need for rest.
I want to share with you how I find the rest I need. My family has one day a week that we do little to nothing. This is usually Saturday but occasionally Sunday if the Saturday is busy hosting guests. We will stay home or get into nature. Ideally once a month but more often once every 3 months, I will take a getaway such as this:
I mentally wrote this blog last night at Nature Lodge where I spent 24 hours by myself in a cabin with no electricity. I had my Bible, my coffee, and listened. I would show you some beautiful pictures of my view but had to leave the phone at home with Marc (no self-discipline!) I have to be honest with you. I spent the first 4-5 hours just thinking. Thinking about this blog. Thinking about the people of East Cambodia and their needs, Thinking about my family. Between each thought came a prayer, “Lord please quiet my mind to hear you.” Finally, when my mind had emptied of all the ramblings, I felt quiet inside. My mind was done hashing out our busy week which I feel is important for it to do.
It was time to listen and talk. The beautiful dialogue from God as opposed to the monologue I had been practicing for weeks up till this break. What did he say to me? “Come to me more often. Wake up before the rug rats (He didn’t say rug rats, I’m just paraphrasing) wake each morning to be with me.” Now, if you follow my blog at all, you may be thinking “wait a minute, you said you always wake up early and spend an hour in meditation.” Which I would respond with, “well, you see, I slept in one day, then the next, then the next, and you get the picture.”
This is a reminder to you and to us. Friends and family, we love you and care about you. We care about your physical and spiritual growth. Make a plan today. Take the next step and share that plan with me. Then I can encourage you! What are you going to do about the need of a weekly rest day? Do you believe in the sabbath day? What should that day of the week look like for you?
To read more, this is an excellent article! The Lost Practice of Resting One Day Each Week
Are you holding back in sharing your heart with others? Do few people know your greatest struggles? I believe your struggles were chosen for you by your maker who loves you and wants to help you through and strengthen you to be there for others.
People from all around the world are sick of liars and short on trust. Most people have been hurt many times in their lives. They are done with it and have made their circle as small as possible to not get hurt again. Then they cross paths with you.
How do we go deep in relationships? How do we peel back the layers in other people’s lives in order to develop long-lasting relationships that are rewarding.
Vulnerability is the key. Without vulnerability, there is no way to see what is inside another. Without vulnerability, the walls between us and others remain. Without vulnerability, we are unable to truly help others but will always remain distant and lonely.
In western culture, we set up professional walls. As a nurse, doctor, therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, we are taught to not be vulnerable. This is often seen as unprofessional or crossing the line. But, the greatest professionals I’ve met in life are those who were willing to be vulnerable.
How do I do this? I have chosen to be honest about who I am, what I like and don’t like, my pains and then path to healing. That honesty frees me from my people-pleasing-burdensome-past. I am free to be me with many people and let them chose to walk with me or not. Through vulnerability, I have seen lives around me change for the better. I hear of lives touched. This motivates and encourages me to keep going.
Its like I discovered a hidden medicine that no-one has seen and is too expensive to buy. Why is it expensive? It costed me blood, sweat, and tears. But, all of that was for nothing if it doesn’t pour out to heal others. Now the pain was worth it! How can you be more vulnerable? By taking the first step.
Yes. Hurt people hurt people. But, I have experienced way more joy than pain from relationships in my life. There are times I have wanted to shut people out due to pain but I healed. I chose to not live that way. I am so glad I made that choice!
Here are some relationships awaiting you:
Our children are watching us and its my desire for them to live a life of happiness with fulfilling relationships. My kids meet so many strangers in life. We make friends with people from around the world, all different cultures, religions, and walks of life. I am an example to them of being vulnerable, hospitable, and caring to bring new relationships in.
Why are people afraid to be vulnerable? Mostly fear of rejection and pain. Fear of losing respect or looking like a fool. I’ve experienced it all and can say that I have had times feeling awkward in conversations as I have shared and they did not. But, I have had many more opportunities to help others than I have experienced embarrassment.
Therefore, don’t give up on people.
Vulnerability is not complaining, brewing, gossiping, or venting. All of these activities are emotional drains on yourself and others. Be vulnerable BUT do be positive about the things you have endured in life. Nobody wants to hear another complain. You can present your struggles in a way that is hopeful, even when you don’t feel hopeful. You can present your struggles without complaining. Mention how you see your pains as helpful and healing to others. You can see changes in yourself from the difficult experiences. Positivity is important for us and others. This helps in healing as we verbalize the good in the tough times.
I have a lot of friends. I like having a lot of friends. I like people. I think good relationships are the key to happiness in this world. Therefore, I use vulnerability wisely to open the door for more friendships in my life. Friendships are not a burden for me. Some feel that they only have time for a small circle but I have found that this is not true. True friendship that includes vulnerability lasts over years, distance, even hurts and misunderstandings. Don’t carry that burden but release yourself from the idea that those who hear you must like you. If one rejects you, there are 10 more ready to accept you!
Peace. Peace with God and peace with others. You will find a fresh new purpose in your life as you walk others through their pains.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so we can comfort those in any trouble with the same comfort we received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
I’ve mentioned this quote before, but it is so good that it is worth mentioning again:
“Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.” Rick Warren The Purpose Driven Life.
In finality, vulnerability if done with positivity is not weak but brave.
“To be vulnerable is not weakness, rather it’s our most accurate measure of courage.” Brene Brown
Trial by error. Each of these lessons below are stated from experience and hey, I’m an open book. I hope you benefit from my mistakes and get a laugh out of it too. Marc and I’s purpose in life is to impact the lives in Southeast Asia for good which led us to begin an international NGO in an underdeveloped country. Everything I said in that last sentence, ate my lunch. If you don’t get what I’m saying, it kicked my butt. But, it taught us a lot as we are living out our purpose and overcoming MANY obstacles. Here are the 16 things you can do, to stop yourself from meeting your goals in life. Trust me, they work.
Labels can take away the potential for change. Diagnosis for life, negative characteristics, flaws, labels are all lies because we are forever changing.
Why rejecting labels is important? I refused to accept a diagnosis about my mental health and choose to believe it was temporary. I refuse to call my husband a pessimist and myself an optimist, knowing as circumstances change so does our perspective. This was important in “getting back in the ring” when things got tough.
“When I see ads on TV with smiling, happy housewives using a new cleaning product, the only thing I want to buy are the meds they must be on.”
Social media creates a picture perfect identity and I am constantly reminding my preteens of that. In all seriousness, I can tell you that comparing yourself with others will create wasted emotional energy that will steal from your ability to move forward. It will destroy potential friendships that could you attain more. It can hurt those around you and create unnecessary bitterness and self hate. Don’t do it.
Why is forgiveness important for your success? Bitterness in the heart only hurts us. Hate and bitterness are contagious, harmful to those we love, and require great amount of emotional energy. Hate in the heart must be dealt with before one can move on to their greatest potential. Many believe that forgiveness is a feeling but actually it is a choice we make and sometimes that choice has to be made over and over again until the feeling comes along.
“Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on.” Alice Miller
My battle with bitterness led to my betterment. Facing anger is brave. I became more confident in my abilities to love when I chose to forgive.
“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” Elbert Hubbard
Leaders will always be rejected by some. This can be painful. I recommend reading the book Leadership Pain: The Classroom For Growth.
The more we lead, the more we will experience rejection. The more we speak out, the more we get criticized. The more we do, the more we fail. It’s just a number game.
The hard part is to learn to accept constructive criticism, reject negative criticism, and know the difference between the two.
Through prayer, meditation, and reading through the Bible, we have remained rooted in who we are, what we are called to do, and how we should be doing it.
Team work is important; it helps to put the blame on someone else.
We all have an independent streak which can be used for good but independence to a fault will isolate you and lead to defeat. “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
Marc needs me and I need him. Without each other, we could have never succeeded. If you didn’t read my 40 reasons why, take a moment to read it here: 40 Reasons Why I Love Working With My Husband
You know that tingly little feeling you get when you like someone? That’s your common sense leaving your body.
I have seen bad partnerships and bad marriage choices that have ended in pain. Two people without one heart, mind, and purpose. We can love, forgive, and accept others but this does not mean that we need to bring all people into our inner circle.
“Forgiveness must be immediate, whether or not a person asks for it. Trust must be rebuilt over time. Trust requires a track record.” Rick Warren.
I used to think I was indecisive, but now I’m not too sure.
Why is decisiveness important? Leadership requires it and those who follow you are in great distress without it. I use to work with a friend who I loved very much but he had a flaw. He could never make a decision. At one point, this friend left the business for a year and did not put anyone else in charge. He said that he didn’t want to hurt feelings. While he was gone, the work struggled amidst lack of leadership, empowerment, and battles. Confidence in your decision-making is a necessity to lead well.
A recent study has found that women who carry a little extra weight live longer than the men who mention it.
Who doesn’t hate working in a place with gossip, bullying, judgmental attitudes, rudeness, rolling of eyes, etc. But the worst part of it all is. . .
a. It’s highly contagious and self-destructive to all. Boom. Done. Purpose not achieved, not with this group!
b. For all you holier than thou’s, this exists in all places that people exist. Churches and other ministries are not excluded. Repent, change, be done with it! Enough said:)
c. It starts in the brain, that’s right, your thoughts boil until finally spewing over. Do you think that you can keep that inside and pursue your goals? I didn’t think so!
d. It’s just not any fun!
“We are psychologically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually hardwired for connection, love, and belonging.” Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
After spending 16 years focused on the same goal, I can predict one thing for certain. Leadership always changes. Be patient not spiteful.
When my boss asked me who is the stupid one, me or him? I told him everyone knows he doesn’t hire stupid people.
“In Business and in life, the reasonable optimist will win every time.” The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
Change the phrase “I have to” into “I get to” and you will find it makes a world of difference in your day. Remember, how we experience the world is shaped by our mindset.
If you haven’t yet, pick this book up! Arianna Huffington will eloquently convince you to change your sleep habits now! Personally, I hurt myself very bad from not getting enough sleep. I believe adequate sleep could have helped prevent a period of depression and anxiety in my life. I’ve shared some quotes below from this book.
“Many of the genes affected by lack of sleep are involved in processing stress and regulating our immune system.”
“Once I started getting 7-8 hours of sleep, it became easier to meditate, exercise, and make wiser decisions.”
“Sleep makes us better at our jobs while simultaneously reminding us that we are more than our jobs.”
Temptation to believe that our own trip-ups will not harm others or be discovered by others is an age-old lie. We found that as we were on the path to attaining our goals, we would be tempted to compromise our moral code, who we wanted to be. Looking back, if we had tripped in those moments, we would not be anywhere near to meeting the goals and purpose in our lives.
That being said, there have been tearful confessions in our family with apologies, forgiveness, and moving forward together that was necessary. To sweep any temptation under the rug, is to arrogantly say, I will not fall. Neither of us have ever regretted the open confession we have had in our 20 years of marriage.
Any goal achieved without sacrifice is worthless. Any gift given without sacrifice has little value. Our greatest achievements are due to our greatest sacrifices. The more we give, the more we get back. Do you believe this? Live like it. Give away more than you get. I promise you that you can depend on God for everything.
The “I deserve it” mentality will only set you back. If we give reluctantly, we become bitter and mad. Often in our times of difficulty or when funding has been short, we have felt that anger saying “I’ve worked hard, and I deserve to get what I need.”
Choose to sacrifice and give freely without expectations but in hope.
We have sacrificed many things in our life but the blessed part is that God has provided all we need. We are not financially rich but what we’ve given in money has come back with contentment, happiness, joy, fulfillment, love, and other things that you can’t put a price tag on.
“The next time you face a daunting challenge, think to yourself, “In order for me to resolve this issue, I will have to fail nine times, but on the tenth attempt, I will be successful.” This attitude frees you and allows you to think creatively without fear of failure, because you understand that learning from failure is a forward step toward success.” The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger
You will want to quit! I wish somebody would have told me that! I wish I believed it when someone probably told me that! But, guess what secret I know now. The greatest moment comes after you jump that hurdle. When all you want to say is “I quit, I give up, I’m exhausted, I did my best, its all I can do,” is when you realize that your goals are not your own but they are divinely His! He wants to achieve good things through me and he will overcome because my goals are His goals.
I am a nobody, nobody is perfect, therefore I am perfect. You are perfect. You are perfectly you with all of your mistakes you’ve learned from, all of your weaknesses you’ve smudged into your career, and all of your successes that came from realizing your weaknesses.
I hate guilt and shame. I love conviction from God because He is slow to anger and speaks with love. Guilt and shame are damaging and discouraging. Fight it and don’t accept it. Unreasonable guilt and shame can destroy a person inside out leading to depression:
“A study using data from 108 studies with 22,411 participants found that shame and unreasonable guilt (guilt in which one feels an inflated sense of responsibility for events that they could not control, and more general guilt which is not specifically linked to a certain situation) were similarly linked to depressive symptoms.” (1)
Success comes when “The fear of loss is greater than the desire for gain.” Zig Ziglar
Every couple of years, this is what you will hear us say “Is it worth it? All this work. All the sacrifice. Should we quit? Are we really heading anywhere or making a difference? Have the hurdles become too difficult? Do we have enough energy to move forward?” Discouragement comes.
What trait is the greatest predictor of success according to research? Grit, courage in difficulty, perseverance through pain. To attain high goals in life and fulfill your purpose, it will hurt. But, this is the life without regret. Let’s do it together!
(Continue to follow my blog to read more about defining and developing your grit.)
If you saw a good joke here, I may have made it up but most likely it came from http://www.onelinefun.com!
I couldn’t wait for the big day. I have 2 bucket list dreams for Christmas. One being Bethlehem and the second Notre-Dame Cathedral. I have dreamed for years of visiting Notre Dame for Christmas. Why Notre Dame? Ancient beauty, stain glass windows, and worshiping with many different nationalities and denominations. Not to mention its one of the most well-known church buildings in the world since 1163. Why not?
Celebrating the birth of Christ at such a scenic and monumental location filled me with anticipation of awe. Instead, I was flooded with holy fear. Although the beauty of the architecture was stunning, I was appalled to see the outside lined with homeless and needy, the inside filled with pushy tourists and annoyed noisy customers while a few worshippers sat quietly in their seats on center stage. A bizarre sight indeed. I reflected on the numerous grand churches that are rising throughout my homeland with their amazing architecture and impressive relics while the outside world still filled with pain and anger not blinking as they pass by the extensive empty parking lots. I began to contemplate my future, my kids future when it comes to our relationship with the Creator. That’s when I made this list. It’s an important list. The world around us have become experts on meditation. Therefore, I’ve made my list of not’s.
Meditation is not. . .
Why do I have to say this? It’s the spiritual game we play. We all have spiritual needs in ourselves and choose to fill it as we wish. I tend to fill it with what comes easy. For me, meditation IS NOT my nature. I am an extrovert not a closet prayer warrior. I figured I’d stay that way until I hit the nursing home at 90. I did not realize the blessing that I could receive by meeting with God one on one. Meditation makes me a better extrovert:) I’m so glad I didn’t wait for the nursing home to learn that meditation and prayer is for all people!
Our spiritual walk is greatly impacted by our surroundings. We live in a culture where quiet is often seen as lazy and unproductive. There were times I believed that connecting with God could be done if I just go to church, listen to uplifting music, and read my Bible. Check list done. Therefore, the list of no’s is to say that I will not replace my time of meditation with anything else. I need quiet times with Him everyday of my life no matter where I’m at. I am at risk of treating religion like an empty cathedral; beautiful on the outside but irrelevant to a hurting world. I must never forget this. Spirituality must be changing me on the inside constantly if I have any hope of being and doing everything I am passionate about in this life.
In finality, take 10 minutes and begin your meditation with one who practiced it a lot. Paul was alone in a jail cell for more days than I can count some 2,000 years ago and his inspired guide for meditation can be found in Philippians.
“. . . whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”
What would life look like if we lived like that?! I look forward to hearing from many of you as you contemplate what is written here. What is your definition of meditation? What does it look like for you?