It had only been 30 minutes, but I was already as fidgety and skittish as a wet, cold cat.
Not long ago, my husband and I went on the Insight for Living Ministries 2018 Alaska Cruise Conference. That sounds lovely until you know I don’t travel well, and leaving my son Jon who has disabilities is always difficult. The last time we traveled without Jon was three years ago, which tells you a little about how often I’m apart from him.
My son Austin was also traveling with us; he serves as a digital media specialist at Insight for Living Ministries. The day before boarding the ship, we checked into the hotel and planned to rest. My husband fell asleep in all of two minutes. I thought Austin was asleep, but he wasn’t, which I would find out later.
I’m going to be thoroughly transparent here: I’m not a good “rester.” I try to rest, but it’s almost painful for me. I lie down, telling my mind it needs to stop racing, but I’ve come to believe there’s a circuitry problem because my mind doesn’t get the message.
When fighting this tension, I might stare wide-eyed at the dust-laden ceiling fan. I hop up, dust it, and think, Well, while I’m up, why not clean the windows, wash off the patio, maybe bathe our 120-pound German shepherd, toss dinner together, answer a hundred e-mails, listen to a few podcasts, and fold laundry. When that’s done, I’ll rest.
This has never worked well, and being in a hotel where I didn’t have chores to distract me wasn’t making things any better.
I quietly sat up in bed, thumbed through the three books I was going to read on the trip (as if), shuffled around some stuff in my overnight bag, and finally resorted to staring out the window where I could see a scruffy bird acting like it’d gotten into a drug dealer’s bag and had snorted four pounds of crack.
I glanced at my watch to see only 25 minutes had passed. This wasn’t going well.
About that time, my son who I thought was asleep turned over and said, “Mom, you have got to learn to relax. Why are you so uptight?” I hated that question, so I ran through my excuses.
Well, um, you know . . . I was just sorting my stuff, looking over my books, watching a crack-bird. Um . . . I’m fine.
He didn’t bite. Instead he told me the truth.
Austin is an observer. In fact, I think if Mensa had an emotional intelligence group, Austin would lead it; he misses nothing. And he thinks and loves deeply.
This wasn’t the first conversation—nor will it be the last—in which we talked about hard stuff. I’ve taught my kids that they are loved, safe, and free to respectfully say whatever is on their heart at any time.
I welcome this because I’ve seen the damage parents can do by dismissing, assuming, labeling, and commanding their kids to suppress feelings. When parents create safe, healthy spaces and listen to their kids, it’s amazing what parents and their children can learn from each other.
Austin shared his concern for my health, which has been compromised due to my years of caregiving. He talked about how I don’t delegate or ask for help and that I tend to place everything in one of three categories: important, urgent, or a matter of life and death. His words were kind and loving.
We watched the crack bird for a few minutes together, and we laughed over some crazy things we’ve done over the years because, by nature, I’m pretty goofy. Things got quiet. He closed his eyes and fell asleep.
I will never forget that conversation. In fact, as I write, you may need to have a conversation about resting. We stay so busy, so rushed, but for what? The dust, dogs, dinner, e-mails, and laundry become the gods we run to instead of running to the one God who created all things, who longs for us to know Him as Abba Father.
It’s His love that enables us to prioritize our lives. His love helps us trust Him as He leads us. His presence calms our worries and creates space for us to be fully present as we rest in Him.
During the next few nights at sea, the ship softly swayed, offering a quiet calm. A salty breeze misted and cooled the air. I wrote these words:
In silence we hear the unique voice God has given us.
In stillness we find the unique gifts God wants to use through us.
In solitude we learn to listen to the soul God created in us.
In suffering we receive comfort only God can give us.
Let Me Hear from You
How well do you rest? Do quietness and solitude sound inviting or frightening? Why? Part of reframing our lives and allowing God to transform our character and direction requires us to reflect on our choices.
This week, try to find five minutes of rest where all is quiet and still. No excuses. Ask yourself some hard questions and see what comes up. God has a purpose for every one of us, and I don’t want you to miss His purpose for you! Let’s talk about where God has you in the reframing process.
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