Take the Rest

Sometimes I need permission to ask for help.

Asking for help makes me feel desperate, and I hate feeling desperate.  I like feeling capable.  There’s a high that comes from juggling everything thrown at you, like an air traffic controller.  There’s something guilt inducing in needing help.  It’s admitting we are weak, and not sufficient.

A few years ago, this whole concept was turned upside down for me, when my husband and I listened to a sermon series by Colin Smith on the 10 commandments.  When discussing the Sabbath, he said this was a commandment not just for an individual, but for a community.  Many jobs, he argued, cannot be laid down for a day without the structure of a community.

I’m thinking being a mother is one of those jobs that requires a community in order to get rest.

Usually my husband is usually the guy who gives me the day off.  We try to look out for each other.  However, this weekend, he had an opportunity given to him to go to a fun sporting event on his day off the farm.  Then next weekend, I’ll be spending my sabbath throwing a birthday party for one of my kids.  Throwing parties is fun, but let’s be honest.  Birthday parties are about as relaxing for moms as “family vacations.”

Recently I was listening to a Bible teacher reflect on the context of when the 10 commandments were given.  A whole people…in the millions, had just walked out of centuries of slavery.  They had a slavery mindset, and had a slavery culture.  What does he do?  He brings them into the wilderness and hands them the 10 commandments.

It wasn’t about making them slaves again.  It was about retraining them to understand what freedom is.

On top of that (God has a way of layering these messages from all angles, so that we don’t miss it!) the kids and I have been reading through the book of Romans for our morning devotions.  There I read chapter after chapter talking about how we are not slaves to the law, and how it’s about looking to Christ for our salvation, not the law.  It talks about how Christ fulfilled the law, and that looking to Christ is the standard.

It’s hard to leave the slavery mindset, isn’t it?  Freedom is a difficult thing to grasp to someone who has lived in slavery.

And I’ll be honest.  Motherhood is a job for which you are not paid, and it often feels like you are meeting the demands of others night and day, as though even your body is not your own.  Hmmm…any parallels to slavery there?  (Don’t get me wrong.  Motherhood is a gift, not a curse.  However, the pace and demands of motherhood are nothing to balk at.  It’s hard, hard, good work.)

All of these Bible messages have been sinking deep in me the last few years, and as I looked ahead to the next 2 weeks, I saw that I wasn’t going to get my next 2 sabbath rests.  The draining pace of up at 7 (or earlier) and working non-stop in my home, until midnight when I fall into bed, that is shared by various children at various watches of the night, would be my life for the next 14 or more days.

And I realized, that not only can I ask for help, but I should ask for help.  

The guilt of needing help has switched in my brain.  God’s Spirit has changed my heart on this issue.  Now I feel that pang of guilt when I try to do it all by myself, not asking for help at all.  He has brought me to a place of understanding that needing rest is part of my design, and going, going, going, going without stop is actually an act of pride, as though I was above my design.  It’s a rejection of the freedom God offers me to rest, and saying that I’d rather take up the yoke of work for yet another day…so as to not bother anyone.

We can split hairs on what is work and what isn’t.  We can talk about emergencies and kids just needing us and there’s no way around it.  But harvest isn’t some surprise that happens every year.  We aren’t shocked by harvest as though it’s an emergency that we didn’t see coming.  It comes every year, and I’ve learned that I have the freedom to work within my design without guilt.

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So today I dropped my kids off at my friend’s house.  I kept Bjorn with me because he’s still feeding on demand.  But he’s an easy-going, great napping kind of kid.  However, I’m going to spend the day letting my brain rest.  Bjorn and I stopped by my favorite cafe so I could get an egg sandwich.  Then I’ll probably window shop for a few minutes, and then head home and work in my sewing room, and just let those creative juices flow.

I’m waiting to hear back from someone about next weekend too.  Because God doesn’t say that we are designed to rest once or twice a year.  Every 6 days of labor we need a day without.  I know that the next 6 days will be grueling, so I’m planning on getting some help to rest after that.

I no longer feel guilty in asking for help.  I feel like it’s obedience.  I’m moving to a place of feeling guilty for accepting help, to not feeling guilty for asking for help, to not feeling guilty for asking for help.

It takes awhile to get out of the slave mindset.

I’m slowly learning that spiritual maturity isn’t doing better all by yourself, and reaching a state of perfection.  It’s leaning heavier and heavier on Jesus who cares for us.  It’s listening to him when he says “rest” and looking to him for what he plans next.  The more I sink into God’s Word, the more I see the spirit of independence is not always spiritual maturity, sometimes it’s full on pride.

We need to remember both on the giving and receiving ends, that God’s laws…for our good… were not given to individuals, they were given to a community.

Comments

  1. Katrina says

    Gretchen, Thank you for this post, I think I need to digest this, and reframe my thoughts about asking for help. I am guilty for not asking for help, so often. Have a great week. You are such a blessing to me.

  2. says

    This is such a good post. I struggle a lot with asking for help because I think I should be able to do it all. But I’ve seen in the past year that regular rest helps me be a better Christian, mom and wife. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. says

    Do you have a link to the sermon you referenced or know if on is available online? Thanks, I’d love to listen. Really enjoyed your perspective on this issue.

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