Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
Volunteer opportunities, extracurricular activities, performances, and meetings occupy more real estate on my calendar than I care to admit. There is no shortage of demand on my time. Add in chasing my hopes and calling, being a good neighbor and friend, and I quickly find myself in the burnout lane.
You probably know that place, too. The language of burnout sounds like: I don’t have anything else to give. I’m so tired. I can’t say yes to one more thing. This is just too much. I wasn’t made for all of this. I do my best, impulsive quitting in that place.
More. Faster. Better. I can only keep up with that rhythm for so long because I wasn’t made to maintain that pace. Seasons of slow, times of pausing from the hamster wheel of “yes”, are necessary and good. Call it unplugging, detoxing, or plain old rest…whatever you call it, it’s necessary because we were not made to go full speed all.the.time. Rest was intentionally woven into the creation story and we are wise to observe such times ourselves.
If you’ve ever watched a car race, you’ve seen drivers steer their car off the track and into the protected pit area. The pit, an area clearly marked off, allows teams to inspect vehicle essentials. New tires, refueling, and mechanical adjustments are made. This area becomes a respite; a period of temporary delay, though the race continues for the other drivers.
I went to a race at Texas Motor Speedway-once. While under the duress of pure boredom, I noticed there were tiny black specs occupying the surface of the lid on my cup. Befuddled, I studied the specs for quite some time before realizing what they were–pieces of rubber from the car tires. As they drove by, at high rates of speed, little shards of rubber burned off and flew up in the stands.
That image is valuable to remember when moving through fast, busy seasons. We get worn out. We do. Just as the tires on the racecar deteriorate little by little, we have an involuntary response to life at full speed. At some point, we must take a moment to pause and assess the condition of our soul.
I am in a season where I’ve had to temporarily leave the race. Pulling in the boundary lines, garnering more time and energy for my family, I have started exercising my “not now.” Oh, that is so hard for this heart that tends toward pleasing others. I wrestle with the silent fear that I’m going to be the loser and miss opportunities as I watch others continue in the race. But deep down, I know it is as good for me as it is for the race car driver. Actually, it’s better. When I rest, I enter the space of God’s provision. My body resets to the rhythm of His heartbeat and will.
You see, others are not going to hold the space of rest for us. Well-intended friends won’t automatically understand the need and requests to participate will continue to come. They will.
People will struggle to be supportive of temporary respite decisions because they can’t assess a car they aren’t driving.
In seasons of slow, we likely share the desire to be known as ones that finished well. There is danger in continuing with bald tires and insufficient fuel. A crash is nearly inevitable if we don’t stop for a tire change; a renewal of mind, body, and spirit.
We have been invited into a place of respite; into the covering of God’s provision and ability. We can be confident that though the race continues, our renewal and ability to continue the race lies in our discernment to pause long enough to allow restoration through rest.