No matter how old you are, you can probably remember a time when someone told you, "live while you're young," or "you're too young to be tired." The source of the sentiment is kind; we should live every day to the fullest, and depending on our goals, there are periods when we want to push forward at a faster pace. What we forget is that rest is a significant part of a full life. Rest is different from “laziness” because it serves a purpose and is vital for physical and emotional growth. We quickly wear out when we “save” rest for when we've reached our finish line. Even when we "settle down," we are told to push on and pursue new goals. I believe we need to learn how to create margin at every stage in our lives so we have space to embrace the present with intent.
For most of us, the “real” pressure starts when we hit high school. The years from high school, to college, to a career are like a race to the finish line. But the "finish line" is just another beginning. Then, we have to establish ourselves and climb the “expected” steps to the next level. There are times when I feel like I'm chasing myself and will never catch up. Whether your goals are work-related or relational, you can probably relate. Society sets expectations for where we should be by certain points, and we chain ourselves to those goalposts. Why do I feel a sense of panic about turning 25? It's not only about the fear of getting older; it's about the fear that I haven't "done enough" with my life so far.
We look to these milestones with a generalized lens when we need to look inward instead. My greatest regret is all the time I've lost in the present, as I’ve focused on the future. If I lay out my goals in front of me, I've seen that I can take my eyes off the "end game" and sow the rewards of the steps along the way. We should focus less on our timelines and more on consistent steps forward. God gave us the opportunity to make our own choices with care, but we also need to trust in Him to have the freedom to live in the present.
"Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans." - Proverbs 16:3
Our bodies and our souls need rest, and we often ignore the signs that we are neglecting both. Young adults, in particular, tend to latch onto the idea that "sleep is for the weak." If you're unmarried or don't have a family to provide for, people will tell you how valuable it is to socialize and take advantage of your chance to "live it up." While it is important to build community and seek unique experiences, when we go non-stop we risk only “going through the motions.”
However, it’s not always about rushing. We also can go to the other extreme and spend 8 hours binge-watching "New Girl" on Netflix. I'm definitely not speaking from personal experience on that one. *wink* The point is, neither end of the spectrum is restful. Sure, a day on the couch could be considered a rest for your body, but you can end up more lethargic. It's okay to indulge in these extremes from time to time, but our strength comes from consistent, intentional rest. After a day of work, we don't need to cram more in if that replaces sleep. In our work and our personal time, quality is not accomplished in a hurry. Our success is in how we love God and love people. Jesus did not live in haste but took time to make deep connections. I know from experience, I don’t love people or God well when I’m tired or hurried.
"The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty." - Proverbs 21:5
To follow Jesus isn't just to do what He did but also to live as He lived. Jesus slept, and He spent time in solitude with God. Personally, I find peace for my soul when I connect with nature. It is easier for me to speak to God and be still in His presence when I am away from society and surrounded by His creation. I know that what matters is that my focus is on Him. When I want to achieve a specific goal, like hiking to a point or photographing a sight, I make that a separate event. Finding rest for our souls is not something to do when we have “some extra time”; it's a spring that must continuously flow from God to replenish our cups.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” - Matthew 11:28
God created us to work and create and He also tells us to enjoy our lives. There's nowhere in the Bible that says we should spend every drop of energy until we die… or retire. If your heart is heavy and your thoughts are in a frenzy, pause to listen to God, and maybe take a nap or laugh with a friend. Stop and turn off the noise. I promise your world won't fall apart if you step away from the hustle.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.