My husband and I work for a cell-based church that emphasizes discipleship and who’s focus is college students. This means that my full-time job consists, for the most part, of building relationships with college students.
Most of my time is spent pursuing people to hang out, to go deeper, to take the risk and be just a step more vulnerable than they were last time we met, to think about Jesus, to think about their decisions, to walk through the consequences when they don’t, to laugh with them and cry with them, to celebrate when they get that internship or that job, to mourn when that guy breaks their heart, to meet their parents, to help them forgive and respect their parents, and really… to live life with them.
I am an extrovert. My rest is often found in people. When you place an extrovert in a full-time job that requires them to reach out constantly, two things happen.
- They realize that the fact they’ve had problems with voice immodulation and interrupting people their entire lives is not, in fact, a lack of self-control or poor manners, but that maybe God designed them to be in a role where they reach, and reach, and reach. They bounce back from rejection and reach some more.
- They realize they’re not as extroverted as they thought.
Every day I’m getting better at learning what rest really is, and the more I learn the more I realize it requires being creative. When your dream job becomes your real job finding rest requires a spark of ingenuity.
To explain why, I have come up with an analogy that (I’m certain) is weak in some areas, but nevertheless may shed some light:
Imagine that everyone loves selling clothes on their off-time. Seriously. Whenever they get off work, they drive home through rush-hour traffic and pull out racks and boxes and drawers full of clothes, and have people traipse through their house for hours on end pilfering through these clothes and complaining about the price, then leaving.
Now, imagine that your full-time job is working retail, and no one understands that when you drive home through rush-hour traffic the last thing you want to do is sell clothes. All you really want to do is invite your friends over for some freaking awesome breakfast tacos and drink a good beer.
When your full-time job is making friends, sometimes making friends in the stereotypical sense is the least restful thing to do. This is why, especially as someone who thrives in relationship, I have to get creative.
So my first step to “resting creatively” is resting with Jesus.
Not only because I need Him, but also because He’s the only reason I’m able to love others; and not only love those I’m reaching out to in my job, but even more importantly (and necessarily) reaching out to my husband, my family, and friends. Just because my job makes maintaining relationships outside of it harder, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t or even that it would be healthy if I didn’t. I need relationships outside of my work – so I run to Jesus to fill me up.
My second step is to figure out how to pursue people in a way that doesn’t feel like I’m pursuing them.
I search for women who will sit in the chair next to me in the nail salon while we get a pedicure, and be perfectly okay with talking about absolutely nothing serious as the person scrubbing my foot silently judges my dry skin.
My husband and I search for couples who like playing Settlers, and won’t make us feel weird about getting “too competitive.”
We also have a Sabbath - that’s not on Sunday. We take one day a week and have it completely off. From everything. I try to have laundry, grocery shopping, dishes, etc done by our Sabbath. Kyle tries to have repairs, bills, the lawn, etc. finished. We spend our mornings with God and our afternoons playing tennis, taking a nap, and the end of the day is date night. We go out to eat or one of us cooks dinner, we watch Parks & Rec, or The Office, we hit up the RedBox or splurge on the theater. We don’t check email & avoid scheduling appointments if we can help it.
It’s been one of the most difficult disciplines to maintain in our marriage, but by far the one that has helped us the most mentally, spiritually, emotionally, & physically.
My third step is finding hobbies. I write, I bake, I read, and I learn. Since being more proactive about my “rest time” – I have discovered how to make some a.m.a.z.i.n.g cinnamon rolls and am actually maintaining a consistent blog. I have read more books about the things I love: Jesus & history, mainly.
My fourth step is repeating the first step. I remember why I’m here. I don’t place rest above Christ and take into account that while burning the candle at both ends would be foolish, neither was I placed here for a life of comfort. I think of ways to bless Miss Iola & Web, my neighbors who are decades past retirement and their leathery skin and tired eyes stir my heart toward loving them the best way I can. I wake up each day and ask the Holy Spirit to start deep and keep filling, and when I go to sleep I desire weariness. Sweet weariness that comes from knowing true rest and being able to pour it out to others.
Christina lives in central Texas with her husband Kyle. She believes the Lord created Adam from dirt, and if that method carried on through her, He'd have used a handful of Texas Hill Country soil with a few sprinkles of dust blown off some forgotten piece of history in the back corner of a museum. She blogs about longing for the intimacy of the Garden and loves to process over a good cup of coffee.