“I just don’t know how to connect with God on a regular basis,” one of the girls in my small group wailed.
Everyone nodded in agreement — knowing how important it is to spend time with God every day, but knowing just how hard that is to do in the midst of a busy, stressful, full life.
It was a Monday night, and we were all lounging in various positions around my friend Kailey’s coffee table. We each had a warm mug of thick coffee in hand — Kailey NEVER makes weak coffee — and we were talking about how we connect to God every day.
A few girls offered up their thoughts, and then finally, I chimed in.
“Quiet times are so important. I know they’re hard to do, but they really make all the difference. Quiet times have been a part of my spiritual practice for as long as I can remember, and nothing is more life-giving to me…”
But as soon as I got about halfway through that paragraph, I realized I wasn’t telling the truth.
I wasn’t trying to lie, not at all. But the person I was describing, the spiritual practice I was preaching about totally wasn’t a part of my daily routine anymore. I’d let it fall by the wayside months before. The girl I was talking about, with the spiritual practice I so needed and believed in — that’s not who I was anymore.
Have you ever found yourself in this place?
As we go through life, I think we have these ideas about who we are. We form them through habits, or through choices, though choosing our major, or working a particular job.
If we do something long enough, that’s who we become, how we start to describe ourselves, how we think of ourselves, who we think we are.
But the thing is — sometimes things change in our lives. Sometimes things change, or don’t work out, plans fall through, or we grow and move into a different season, or like I did for a long time with my quiet times, we totally drop the ball.
And sometimes I think we still find ourselves describing ourselves as we used to be, not realizing that we have changed, or not wanting to admit it to ourselves.
That’s where I found myself last month.
The thing is — I’ve always been a dreamer. I’m a dreamer, a delighter, someone who is endlessly tickled by a great cup of coffee, someone who notices the beautiful things, someone who’s day can be entirely made by things that most people wouldn’t even notice.
That’s who I’ve always been — a full-hearted celebrator of beauty, of life.
But I woke up about a month ago and realized that’s not who I am anymore. I want to be that person, I still describe myself as that person, but if you saw my life — my real, honest-to-goodness life — that’s not what you’d see.
What you’d see instead is someone who’s really busy — busy, focused, stressed, and absolutely intent on getting things “Checked off the list.”
You’d see someone who’s tired — not just body-tired, but soul-tired.
You’d see someone who desperately needs rest, but is far too efficient to take it.
And this is not who I picture myself to be.
In my mind’s eye, the best version of myself is wearing a flowy dress, and flip flops. She loves flip flops. It doesn't matter the occasion.
She knows that the world won't end if she takes a day off, and she rests without guilt or hesitation. Her priorities are totally in order — people are more important than progress always. No matter what.
She loves life, and lives life, and really savors every bit of it.
She’s the kind of girl that sits around the table, talking and laughing long after the plates have been cleared, instead of eating on the go, or pulling through the drive-through and eating and driving and talking on the phone and putting on lipstick all at the same time.
She’s not trying to juggle her life, she’s trying to live it with love and presence and grace and delight.
But the reality is that the girl in my heart has been strapped into stilettos for as long as I can remember, and she has no patience or grace for the fact that her feet desperately hurt.
She’s wrapped in a too-tight pencil skirt, her phone is always in one hand, and her planner is always in the other. She’s busy, efficient, stressed, and exhausted. She’s barely present, rarely takes days off, and when she gets tired, she pushes even harder.
Ugh. That is just NOT who I want to be.
And the thing I’ve had to realize — before we criticize this stiletto girl too much — is that that she's actually important. She is, she’s valuable, and that part of me is a gift. (Even when it doesn’t feel like it.)
It’s that part of me that’s allowed me to start a blog, write a book, and pursue the things I really believe God created me to do.
So she’s not a bad gal, she just needs to be reigned in a little bit to give room for the other parts of me — the parts I haven’t seen in as long as I can remember.
So that’s my mission for this summer. My mission is to rest, to breathe, to be, to read, to think, to notice, to delight. My mission is to connect with my heart more often than I connect with my inbox. To be more present, less stressed, more delighted, less distracted.
And I have to tell you… so far it’s been hard and amazing, both in equal measure.
It’s been hard because rest is almost impossible, I’m convinced.
Maybe it’s just me, but there is always something to do, always something that I “really should be doing,” and it’s really hard for me not to feel like I’m wasting time when I leave to-dos undone.
It’s taken discipline, working to let go of the idea that I can and should do it all. I’ve had to bring my husband and my family and my friends into my struggle so they can hold me accountable, and I’ve had to create strict boundaries for that stiletto lady, to keep her from taking over again.
But it’s also been wonderful.
Last week I was home in Denver visiting my people. My dad’s birthday just so happened to fall on Father’s Day, so my mom and I cooked up a surprise visit. He had no idea I was coming, and was shocked to find out that I’d be there for the whole week.
I got to spend time with my sister, and my parents, and my very best friends. I got to be there for my best friend Kelsey’s baby shower, and for lots of long lunches, and for a baseball game and a pool day and for more laughing than my stomach could handle.
And the best part is… I didn’t work at ALL. Okay — I worked for maybe an hour every day. But y’all, that is an improvement.
I set down work for awhile, gave up on being productive, and decided that officially and for real, rest had to become a priority.
The change was palpable and instantaneous.
I took my sweet puppy on a walk one night, and as the sun shone golden on my childhood neighborhood, I could feel the color coming back to my cheeks, that part of my heart slowly coming back to life.
It’s just the best.
So… with that being said, now I'd love to hear from you.
Is this something you struggle with ever? Is rest hard for you? Do you find yourself sacrificing heart and connection in the name of productivity? I’d love to hear if this is something you’ve ever wrestled with!
And if it is, I’d love to share a few of the questions I’ve been asking myself as I’ve been making intentional plans for resting this summer.
I hope they’re as helpful in guiding you towards rest as they have been for me! Oh, and if they’re helpful, I’d love to hear some of your answers to the questions in the comments!
There’s nothing more powerful, or more freeing than knowing we’re not alone in what we’re going through. 🙂
Okay, here are the questions:
1. How are you feeling as you’re going into summer?
2. How have past summers been for you? Have they been relaxing? If so, how did you make that happen? Or, have they been stressful? And if so, what contributed to that stress?
3. In a perfect world, what would this summer look like for you? Or better yet, how would you like to feel as you walk into fall?
4. What are some intentional things you need to do to make that happen?
5. One of my favorite ways to figure out steps forward is to make a to-do list, and actually, my very favorite place to start is with a to-don’t list. It’s a great way to put some limits on our productive selves — to say, “Nope, sorry lady, you need to focus that productivity, time, and heart, elsewhere!” So what are some things you’re going to lay down this summer, some things you’re going to let yourself off the hook from doing? What’s on your to-don’t list?
6. What WILL you do this summer? What are the most important, tangible things that you can do this summer to make it a summer of rest?
7. What’s a first step you can take right now, today to get started?
I’d love to hear your answers! Pop them in the comments below when you’re done, and cheers to a summer of rest sweet friends. 🙂
All my love,
P.S. Have you picked up a free copy of my book, The Lipstick Gospel? If not, I'd love to send you one! It's the story of how one sorority girl (me!) found God in heartbreak, the Sistine Chapel, and the perfect cappuccino. Click here to download your free copy! 🙂
P.P.S. Here are a few more resources you can check out if you need more help in this are of your life:
Girls Night #22: Rest & Self Care – How to Actually Do It
Girls Night #96: How to Rest: A Guide for the Woman Who Feels Stressed and Burned Out
The Between Places (prayer journal)