We all have our own little methods for finding rest in the noisy, busy craziness of our daily lives.
For some, finding rest means something quite literal, like taking a nap. For others, it’s watching HGTV for a couple of hours, going for a run, or reading a book. Maybe you enjoy gardening or baking or just sitting back and listening to your favorite musician. Whatever it is, you know that when you make time for it, you will feel a sense of calm during those moments of engaging in something you love to do.
This photo was taken right after my brother, Tim, and I finished cleaning up the kitchen after a very delicious, nutritious dinner last night (thanks, Mom!). (In case you were wondering what that shadowy figure is lying on the floor, that would be our family’s beloved dog, Lola.) As I finished my last task of putting new trash bags into the trash cans, I had a thought.
I journeyed back in my memories to a few weeks before I graduated when it was my job to clean the kitchen in my apartment. My roommates and I did a rotation (almost) every week between the kitchen, the bathroom, and the living room. That particular week, the kitchen was all mine.
The weeks leading up to the end of my college career were nothing short of overwhelming, so I was dreading this chore quite a bit. I “didn’t have time” to do anything outside of my own strict schedule. During those weeks, I was battling a lot of anxiety and stress that seemed to be coming at me from every angle. So much so, that at times I would feel paralyzed, unable to move on to the next task and complete it. Moments of relief, of rest, of simply taking a deep breath seemed far out of my reach.
I knew I had to make time to clean, though. My roommates had already finished cleaning the living room and bathroom, so it would be unfair for me to leave the kitchen untouched. I chose an afternoon in the middle of the week, fully aware of what I would have to accomplish later in terms of schoolwork, but trying my best to forget about it while I cleared the counters to wipe them down.
Two hours later, our kitchen was on the verge of being deemed spotless.
Surprisingly, during those two hours, I found the relief I had been in desperate need of. I forgot about whatever paper I had to write and however many pages I had to read for class. I focused on the task in front of me and, because it allowed me to remove myself from the stressors of my daily life, I found peace in the activity and joy in the result.
Last night, as my brother and I were putting dishes away and taking the trash out, I was reminded that cleaning is a method of stress relief for me. Everything that goes into it: putting the leftover food away, wiping the counters, placing the dishes in the dishwasher, using a sponge to clean the ones that can’t be put in the dishwasher; all of it adds up to a visible finished product that looks much better than it did before. I feel undeniably satisfied at the end of a good cleaning.
I mention this concept of finding rest, not only because of its importance in my own life, but also how difficult it is. Most of the things I listed at the beginning of this post are activities I love to do, but when I am bogged down by work, I am not good at finding time to engage in them. That’s why I was so surprised to figure out that cleaning the kitchen served as a method of relief for me. How could something that seemed like another annoying task turn out to be the opposite?
The Bible talks a lot about rest. God rested on the seventh day after He created the world (Genesis 2:1-3). Jesus told His disciples to rest when they were traveling with Him (Mark 6:31). We are commanded to take a break from our work and find rest in the Lord (Exodus 20:8-11). And if we seek Him, He will bring us rest, like He says in Matthew 11:28:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
What I’ve been realizing and learning recently is He truly brings us rest just like He promises. God knows we will go through seasons of difficulty, so He provides moments in which we are able to pause, breathe, and delight in a job well done so that we can reconnect and feel rejuvenated to tackle whatever comes next. In Psalm 23, David writes, “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters.” God actively brings us relief from the noise in our heads and in the world around us.
Rest doesn’t always mean getting eight hours of sleep every night or going on vacation. Those are beautiful things that are certainly refreshing, but God doesn’t only exist when we sleep or when we’re relaxing on the beach. He also exists in bike rides and poetry and painting and, in my case, He exists in cleaning. He renews us in the most unexpected ways. And that is pretty amazing.
Where have you found rest in your daily life?