Thanksgiving is almost here, and soon behind it are the first days of Advent, leading us quickly to Christmas! Amidst the joyous holiday preparations and the rush that seems to come, I always yearn for more intentional pauses and moments of rest to connect with what is most important. Let's be honest: the holidays are exhausting for everyone, and sometimes we lose sight of what is coming!
Recently, I was interviewed for this article, "Sabbath Rest Isn't Just for Sundays," and as we talked about rest, I was reminded how vital and elusive rest can be, especially as we move closer to Advent. Mostly, though, it is countercultural. But it does not have to be hard, even busy people can find rest, trust me. For more on that, I recommend you read the article and then the fantastic book by Tricia Hersey, "Rest is Resistance."
The rest I am talking about is not just about catching up on sleep or taking a break from the holiday frenzy. It's a deliberate act of self-care that nurtures our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. And it goes against the holiday calendar.
As I write in the pages of "Fully Human, Fully Divine," it is possible to slow down and savor the coming of Christ. But it is also a practice. It is true - we find true rest when we rest in God.
This short reflection is a simple reminder (and hopefully encouragement) that this holiday season does not have to be an exhausting flurry of activities. It can be a time of profound connection with those around you and your whole self as you savor the season.
Let's slow down together and savor the season's gifts as we rest in God's hope, peace, joy, and love. Rested is the way to await the Christ child!
I would love to accompany you along the way. You can download your 2023 Advent Calendar and find additional resources here: WhitneyRSimpson.com/Advent.
How will you find rest and savor what is to come?
How is it already October? What has become of this year's vision board and goal plan? For me, not much. It is the year of PIVOT! And while it's been tough, I'm finding many silver linings in this invitation and focus shift. Amidst that shifting, I do know I'm hearing this quote from Augustine and a very familiar verse, loud and clear.
"Thou has made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee." - Augustine of Hippo
“Be still, and know that I am God” – Psalm 46:10
Do you have any stillness or rest in your day? Or, does stillness only find you when you crash in the chair at the end of the day after being all things to all people?
Or, does rest evade your mind because although your body is still, you rarely choose to stop scrolling or turn off the news? Do you collapse at the end of a day feeling tired, alone, or even unworthy of being still in God's presence? Are you restless?
This restless pondering and verse aren't simply about being still, are they? Nope. There is so much more than stillness in this invitation.
We might want to take note of something pretty important in the verse. The word "and" in the sentence. The scripture doesn't just ask us to be still, it asks us to be still AND know. What do we need to know?
If you keep reading, verse 11 tells us that “The Lord Almighty is with us.” We aren’t simply told to be still (I was told that in church as a little girl plenty, that's not the same as this). We’re told to be still and know that God is with us. Augustine reminds us God wants us to not only rest but to rest IN GOD. Amidst stress, overwhelm, injustice, worry, changed plans, and pivoting dreams, rest in God.
God gives us the ability to do more than just stop worrying or running. God gives us the ability to rest in God and be reminded how much God cares for each of us, especially amidst restless times like these.
Today, I invite you to find stillness somewhere in your day AND in that stillness of knowing God is with you.
Know that God is your comfort.
Know that God is your peace.
Know that your Creator longs for you to rest in thee.
Reflect: How am I reminded that God is with me? What is causing me restlessness (get specific, consider journaling or praying through these specifics)? When was the last time I experienced stillness and rest WITH God? Where and when can I rest today AND be reminded of God's presence in my life?
Action: Let's not choose to be restless in this season, let's choose to rest in God. Need a little help? Press play below and drift off to sleep in God's presence tonight.
How's your focus and attention these days? Believe it or not, mine has found a renewed sense of clarity in the season of this pandemic. While there is plenty to overwhelm my body and my spirit (the hurts of our world, the effects of a mysterious virus, the longing to end racism) there is a new pace that helps me be more mindful and present.
Slowing down came naturally to me after my stroke and brain surgery 15 years ago. Honestly, I didn't have a choice. My ability to multitask ceased and life as I knew it shifted drastically. Not that long ago, I reflected and lamented with a friend about this longing to again juggle too many balls in the air. As she listened, she told me, "what a gift this experience of forced slowing down was for you!" And, I realized she was right. I am re-opening this gift of slowing down. Will you join me?
How are you intentionally slowing down in this season? What gifts are you discovering in the midst of a pandemic?
Whitney R. Simpson
Click to connect:
Content @ 2010-2023
Whitney R. Simpson
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC