It was exam season.
I walked through my friend’s front door, flopped onto the sofa and took my much-needed cup of tea with a resounding ‘I needed that’. It didn’t take long for my friend to realise that I was exhausted, and that going to her house was finally rest.
She challenged me by asking ‘when was the last time you rested?’
To which I responded with a half smile, ‘I watched some Netflix before going to bed last night.’
She paused and looked at me with one eyebrow raised. ‘No. Really rested?’
She was met with an elongated ‘erm…’ and a slightly awkward, very-much convicted giggle.
I could not give her a response. The last time I really rested felt so far back in the calendar I could not even recall when it was.
‘I don’t have time to rest. I have exams and deadlines and church stuff and work. Just don’t have the time.’
It was then that she encouraged me to take control of my calendar, and stop letting the calendar take control of me.
This didn’t mean that I didn’t study. I didn’t mean that I didn’t go to church. But it did mean that I started to think intentionally about how and when I was going to rest.
I’m a sucker for a Google calendar, or even better a paper diary, so was keen when she advised me to schedule in my rest. Initially, it felt weird and over-structured, but it taught me to be disciplined with resting, retreating and being intentional with my time where it’s just me and Jesus.
I quickly learnt what was rest for me, and what rest was not.
Rest was not hours spent on Netflix.
Rest was not going to bed late and getting up late.
Rest was not distracting myself by filling up the calendar.
Rest was spending time with people who give me life.
Rest was being disciplined with my bedtime and getting up early.
Rest was bike rides full of prayer time and conversation with Jesus.
During my final year exams, the busiest time throughout my 3 years at university, it was then that I learnt that true rest looks like doing life with Jesus alongside you.
Because I took the time to rest and retreat with Him on bike rides and coffee dates, I could enter every exam, deadline, stressful conversation, big life decision and job application rested and filled with His peace.
And the best part about it? My course mates noticed a difference.
‘How comes you’re not stressed like everyone else?’
My ability to rest and become more like my Creator in a time where stress is the norm was questionable. It made people stop in their tracks, ask questions and see that a relationship with Jesus does make a difference.
It was knowing the good news that despite the seemingly never-ending to-do list, I can work from a place of rest, retreat and knowing Who my identity comes from.
It’s exam season.
Work out what rest looks like for you. Trial and error, have grace for yourself and live questionably in relationship with your Creator.
Check out the latest podcast with Miriam, Luke & Adam for more on rest!