Peace in the Process

One and a half years ago we moved off the mountain and into town. One and a half years later, I’m still setting up camp. 

If you didn’t already know, we lost a lot of square footage. Now, with a baby on the way, we’ve lost the all-purpose room crammed with boxes of odds and ends dating back to the start of our marriage. 

It’s good to be plucked from your comfort zone and dropped into spaces that either feel too big or too small. It’s great to experience the challenges of rearrangement. 

Discomfort refreshes perspective. Fresh perspective clears the way for refinement. 

I love that as much as I have always loved a good organization project. 

I must admit, however, that one and half years into this overdue project, I have reached my breaking point. 

I long to be at rest and to enjoy this place before the government tells us where to go next. If only I could get it together. If only I could just be done with it already and rest. 

Rest. What is that? It’s an illusion. That’s what. At least the kind I chase as soon as I wake. 

Most days, my feet hit the ground and off I go, working hard for that moment when every task is done and there’s nothing more to do. 

I have experienced those moments a time or two. Those precious, fleeting moments of hard-earned freedom. And how do I spend them? I succumb to laziness, and subsequently find it hard to get back at it later. Or, more often, I bemoan the reality that one completed task only ever leads to another and that the laundry is never really a done deal, there’s always a bathroom to clean, a floor to sweep, or a phone call to make. 

Like most “good-for-you” things, rest must be intentional and well-balanced. And true rest is not exactly as the world advertises. 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). 

I picture myself hearing Jesus say this out of the blue one hot, dusty day. I see myself dropping the burdens of daily tasks and the expectations of others and myself without a second thought. Maybe I’m stretching out on the ground, catching my breath and waiting to hear if he has anything else to add. 

Before my heart rate can return to normal he’s saying, “take my yoke upon you and learn from me…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30). 

But I don’t want to hear about yokes and easier burdens. I want to lie down in that green pasture of burden-less bliss and do nothing. For a long time. 

If you’ve read Little Women, you might remember the experiment the four girls conduct. For one week, they trade work for play. The experiment concludes in disaster, with a dinner gone wrong and a dead canary among the casualties. 

If you’ve read Proverbs or Aesop’s Fables, you know all about the grasshopper and the ant. 

Not wanting to be a hungry fiddle-playing grasshopper or a March sister about to bury a neglected pet, I know I have to eventually get up and keep going. And when I remember that Jesus says, “I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29), I realize I was wrong about rest all along. 

I realize that whether I’m working or judiciously taking a break, I can have rest for my soul – the kind that goes deeper than the circles under my eyes and outlasts the sigh of relief in crossing off all the items on a to-do list. 

Jesus promises he is gentle. He is not demanding. He promises he is humble in heart. He does not revel in our limitations. His burden is lighter than what we pile on ourselves, and best of all, he walks beside us under the weight of the same yoke. 

True rest is the presence of a friend helping me keep it all in perspective and then rolling his sleeves up to help me in the work he’s called me to. Not the work I create for myself. 

True rest is Jesus. It’s peace, and I don’t have to accomplish anything to experience it. I just have to pause long enough to accept it. 

And that’s the best news for a task-oriented perfectionist like me.

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