Rest and relaxation

For the Rest of Your Life…

And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. Matthew 6:10

I used to feel a little guilty pulling that one out. I mean, there are plenty of Christians who pull Bible verses out of context, just to get what they want! Don’t need more of them!

But isn’t it true that quite often, we moms just would love a nap? Yep. And when Mr. Sandman is beating you around the head and shoulders with his sandbag, Bible verses about rest just seem so true!

So, pull, I would. I remember the first time I realized Jesus was telling his men to take a nap. Arrgh! I never wanted to be part of any Bible story more than that one. Well, unless it was walking on water . . .

But even that would definitely have to be after a nap!

Then one day I realized something about that verse. I realized it is a command . . . and OH, MY! did it work on my sense of self-worth!

The way the story goes, Jesus called his men aside and told them to rest because they’d not even had time to eat.

Yet the questions always come: How!  And will they let you?

Can you relate?! I certainly can!

Those hectic days when everything piles on top of everything else are exactly when we need to remember the command is to back off.  Of course, we cannot leave little ones unsupervised while we take a nap, but it is possible to slip into a restful mode and feel How to Get an Amazing Rest from a Crazy Busy Daythe refreshing that can get us through ’til the end of the work day.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. R is for RETREAT. No one will take you seriously if you keep on puttering in the kitchen or shuffling papers. If you don’t quit, you will never get there! Find an easy chair or couch or even a bed and make it look like you mean business.
  2. E is for ENJOY. No fair feeling guilty! Besides, a guilt trip is not restful. Tell yourself you need this and so do they. Smile and close your eyes. Sip a favorite drink. Get to another place in your imagination, if only for a few minutes.
  3. S is for SET A TIMER. Your appointment with rest is important. Make it a good fifteen minutes and make it inviolable time, too. Turn the phone off, give interrupters that blank look, and hush anyone who forgets this is your set time. The timer also assures you won’t over-do it.
  4. T is for THANKFUL. Tell your heart this is a God thing. Every minute is worth cherishing. That lovely feeling of having rested will take you through the rest of the day and even prolong the rest of your life. This is so good; love it for what it is worth.

It may not seem do-able, but you can do it.

Even taking a few moments out, just closing a door for one or two minutes, can make a difference in how we perceive things and how we respond.

It’s a command . . . Okay to obey!

very near hell, the apex of descent

10,080 Minutes Very Near Hell

Where is the place that is very near hell?

It is the apex, the place where ascent weakens to the weakest possible point, the beginning of the end, the molecule of time before the descent.

It is a place of deep sorrow and pain. It is a place of helplessness and confusion. It is a place of crushing and fainting.

Do we want to know where this is? Do we want to read about it?

No.

It is a place of regrets and blame, of requirements and inability, of surroundings and enemies of all that matters. A place of conflicting opinion and constant flood of words. A place of never doing it right. A place of agony and of tears and of darkness.

But it is not hell.

It is only death.

We were not programmed to die. We were not created to deal with death.

We were created and intended to live, to vibrate with joy, to glow in the dark.

But we die.

But not all of us at once. We each have his own appointed time. Some of us must remain survivors and feel the loss, mourn the loss, die a thousand deaths during the loss.

And some of us must stand by and watch, very near hell.

It is a duty, a privilege, an honor, to be standing by and watching the descent, the mourning, the loss, the thousand-times death. To stand by, to help, to helplessly watch and wait, is a gift that rebounds to the giver in humble thanksgiving in the soul. To mind quietly the senseless, necessary tasks of the earthbound, standing next to the earth-ending descent, is a miracle and a reverie, nearly a trance.

To remain alive ends all words.

The Solution

Truth

Truth (Photo credit: d4vidbruce)

I suffered from going into the past to worry about a future that never came about.

However, I did stop worrying about the past-future-what-ifs and I’d like to share with you how to do it, in case you find yourself needing to know.

1. Stop imagining.

My kids tell a joke, disguised as a riddle, which begins: Imagine you are in a car rolling backward down a hill toward a lake. The troubles and frustrations described in the joke continue to the point of desperation. There is seemingly no way to survive being drowned in that lake when the question comes: What should you do? Once the victim of this joke tries every possible solution to this seeming riddle and then gives up, the joker gives the answer: STOP IMAGINING! At that point it is very funny.

If you tell it right, the relief in the air is almost palpable at that moment, because the listener latches on to the story because we all have imaginings like this from time to time.

You may have imagined worries, but you can have that palpable relief, too.

In real life.

Imagination is a wonderful tool, in its place—but stop imagining.

2. Take every thought captive and make it obey the truth.

Realize there is something or someone trying to take away your sanity and you need to fight to get it back. Tell yourself the truth, aloud, if needed.

Ah, but what is truth? How can anyone ever possibly know what might have happened?

Don’t go there!

Take that thought captive!

Here is the truth: You are not in control. You do your best with what you are in control of, and then other forces are in control of all the rest. You try hard to be in the right place, doing the right thing, at the right time, and then, you let go.

The truth is that God is in control and you are not God. He rules the world. He determines. Not you. Not me. Not any malfunctioning gearbox, not any tornado, not any burglar, not any hormone, not any doctor, not any police.

God.

We read the stories all the time of those who escaped harm while doing the wrong thing. People hide from tornados in flimsy shelters and the whole building blows away except for the flimsy shelter. We read, also, of a tornado that swoops out of nowhere to pick up only one person and passes on to do no more damage. Burglars flee when someone rolls over in bed; other burglars take everything. Careless women have healthy babies; careful women deliver stillborn babies. And on it goes.

The truth is partly in the timing. When God determines it is time, then it is time. We all want to escape all danger, harm, shame, etc., but after doing all we can do, then the ball is in God’s court, and when it comes to THAT ballgame, God wins.

Of course, the fatalist will say, “Then why try?”

We must try hard to stay alive and to keep others alive, if at all possible, because life is a precious gift from God and we are to use it to His glory. We are not to become fatalistic or desponding, but to trust Him to make the best possible outcome from our entire life. We are to cooperate with Him, but not to worry about if He knows what on earth He is doing.

True freedom from worry over past-future-what-ifs came for me — and I hope, for you — with these thoughts:

  • My baby did not die that day. (It took me a while to get that part.)
  • Therefore, it was not God’s will for my baby to die that day.
  • Therefore, it was impossible that he could have died that day.

There could have been NO what-ifs that could have changed that. Since then I have even met a family whose son was run over, with no lasting harm coming to him. It’s all about Who is in control.

And it’s not about you or me.

The glorious liberty that comes from the truth, can set us free from all fear of death and all guilt.

We should do our best and trust God. He can and will take care of the what-ifs.

This is truth.

I pray you can apply it to your life.

The Traumatic “What-If”

Worry

Worry (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The traumatic what-ifs happen. They happen to very nice people. They can ruin sleep and even ruin life for people who basically did nothing wrong.

Sometimes we think what if about the future.

What if a tornado were to strike? What if a burglar came to the door? What if I miscarry? What if the thought police read my post? And on and on and on.

We call those what-ifs “worry”. We can make great use of them if we take notes, plan for the future, and then forget it. We stock the basement with candles, drinking water, maybe helmets, and then we relax. We lock the door or place a chair under the knob and then go on to sleep. We take our maternity vitamins and trust our medical pro. Etc. We do, in other words, whatever we can to avert disaster, normally, and then we go on to the next topic.

We call that wisdom.

We are bringing the scary future worries into the present, actual, factual preparations. Dealing with them in the present is what we should do. When we acknowledge actual, possible disaster, it does not seem so scary. When we use known fact to make ourselves safer, we actually benefit. We plan to succeed, maybe update now and then, and let the plan be enough.

Or we fixate on it and go through life abnormally worried about everything. What if the tornado sucks me out of the basement, what if the burglar comes down the chimney . . .  We can drive ourselves crazy. We can have nightmares (if we’re not losing sleep.)

We suffer trauma when nothing has actually happened!

PTSD changes from POST– to  PRE-traumatic stress disorder.

What a shame. How avoidable.

We call that waste.

However, sometimes we look back.

We look back on our past traumatic experiences and think too much.

We actually worry about things in the past.

Things that only might have happened.

But did not happen.

They are “what-ifs” from the past. There is no way we could ever go back to the past and be in danger from these what-ifs, but we go back there, mentally, and worry about what-if they had happened.

Now, I will grant that once we have experienced actual trauma, our brains are shuffled a bit. That is true. We do not walk through true danger without knowing it, without adrenalin, without fight-or-flight, without some sort of harm or terror.

But we sometimes do not stop there. Sometimes we worry most irrationally: We worry about the future, but we go back to the past to do it.

Sorry, but what we call that is just a bit wacko.

How do I know? I know, because I’ve done it, and I’ve seen others do it.

When my son fell out of the rolling car, I was sleepless many nights. He was fine. He was not crushed. The car did not roll into the street causing an accident. Someone was there to help. We all lived happily ever after.

But I worried.

For days.

What if my baby had been crushed. I’d have probably had to go to court. I could have had my children taken from me. I could be in prison. My poor baby would probably have died. Or worse. My poor teenager would have felt guilty. What if the car had continued rolling into the street, and had struck another car. Or another child. Two children could be dead right now. What if my teenager had to go to court. He was old enough to drive. He could have lost his privileges to drive. What if he had become suicidal….

This is only a  fraction of what I suffered, and if you’ve ever gone down this path, you know it’s really a maze that keeps taking you back to the beginning. You never get out. The end of all this is either such weariness that insomnia is impossible, or else the end is insanity.

Oh. An added bonus is that some get to enjoy substance abuse. Why we don’t worry about that is a puzzle to me.

Okay. I did stop worrying about the past-future-what-ifs and I’d like to share with you how to do it, in case you find yourself needing to know.

More tomorrow.