The past two years I feel God has told me my word for the year is REST. “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30
This year has been anything but restful for me. It has been filled with loss, chronic illness of a loved one, disappointments, and stress. I have tried to do the only thing left to me trust in God to meet all my needs. I found that I could not even do this on my own. Anxiety and depression overwhelmed me. I called some trusted friends, told my recovery group, Delta, and a pastor/counselor. They accepted me and all my mess. They were there to listen to my struggles. They were there to love me when I felt like I had nothing to give them but my mess. In talking to them, I was then able to come to God with the same things. I found myself through all the loss — of a job, of my step-grandma, of my dear aunt — sharing myself tears and questions and just heartbreak trusting others for the first time as I went through a struggle. I did not hide and stuff it away like I use to do. I found myself sharing my anxiety of my husband’s chronic illness. I found myself saying when we were struggling financially due to overwhelming bills and little income. As I shared with other people they would listen to me without judgement. They would accept me as I was. They also prayed for me. They gave me hugs and friendship.
With all that has happened I feel anything but rested. In sharing with them I found them to be the hands and feet of Jesus to me when I sometimes wondered where He was during all of this. Relationships with others have helped me know God more.
I cried out to God from the depths of pain and suffering. I found myself reading the Psalms over and over. I found myself reading the Psalms every night, writing in my journal, then falling asleep with tears. I poured out my questions to HIM. I yelled at HIM. I sat with HIM quietly. I had relationship with HIM. Just as in any relationship trust and honesty are necessary for it to grow and work.
Eventually I found work part-time. It has helped pay the bills but without full-time it is still tough to make ends meet. We have missed some bills here and there, but then make it up later when the money does come in. I found that I did not even have money to visit my uncle after my aunt died to help him sort some of her things. My church gave me money for gas. When I wanted a book a friend from the blogging world felt led to buy it for me and send it to me. It is a treasured gift from her and God. Christmas this year is not going to be about buying presents for our loved ones. It is about loving them and spending time with them and Jesus. We are buying some small gifts and making some others. But I digress off the topic here.
This last year I have come to realize that “REST” is not the absence of turmoil or tiredness. REST for me has been re-defined to mean continued trust in Jesus with all of my heart as I go through life. Telling him and others what is going on inside my heart that I like to keep locked away and hidden. My anxiety and depression are still there. Life has not stopped having the ups and downs. It will always have good times and bad times. REST is about finding the hope in Jesus because he is with me always, no matter my feelings at the time.
Where is your hope? What is one thing God has taught you this past year?