Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Blissful Island Relaxation
I'm beginning to think that I will never grow out of post-vacation-depression. Ever sense I was little, I've had that great feeling of mourning when the good times come to an end and I have to pack up and head home. Although I no longer stand sobbing at the beach or lying on my floor crying, I can say I've mastered the art of silently crying while keeping a straight face. Sunglasses really help out too.
This vacation was no different I had an amazing time in St. John. The sun, the beach, the time with my family and God: It was all wonderful and much needed. I grew closer with my step-siblings, got to hike on my late uncle's favorite trail and had a blast with my family. I ran, hiked, snorkeled, kayaked, swam and paddle boarded all over that island.
But right now, in this post, I'm not here to tell you about all the ways I adventured and explored during my vacation. That will come soon enough. I want to explain the most important, most special thing I experienced while I was gone last week:
I have never been good at it. I've never been able to sit still and just "BE." Growing up, I tried just about every sport I could sign up for: soccer, basketball, swim team, ice skating, tennis and-- of course-- running (with my parents). While I eventually stuck with running, my restlessness became a pathway into anorexia as I dealt with my parents divorce and lots of death in the family. Since then, resting has been not only minimal, but nonexistent in my life. I saw it as a sign of weakness, another way that others could see into my brokenness and hurt me. I didn't want to be vulnerable anymore, so I kept going at a million miles an hour in an effort to become, or at least appear, stronger.
That's not to say I don't genuinely love running, because I Do. I LOVE it. But I also have loved tiring my body to exhaustion and feeling better than the gym goer next to me who is idly surfing the web on the elliptical.
Recently though, as I've recommitted to surrendering ALL of me to God, I realized just how important rest is. After all, God rested on the seventh day. He didn't need rest, but He wanted to set an example for us. He wanted us to see that it is important to rest so that we can be more effective and be full of His peace. He wants us to trust Him.
Lately, God has been showing me the concept of rest in so many ways. I've seen verse after verse, song after song. I've seen numerous deer resting in the woods while I'm out walking (rather than allowing myself to rest and relax).
Going to St. John last week was a moving extension of that lesson. I know that delaying obedience to God is disobedience, and I know He has been calling me to rest. While I'm still working diligently on obedience in plenty of areas, His spirit finally broke through to me regarding rest. I was amazed at the relief I felt when I told myself I didn't need to go on a long walk or refuse to sit still in the car. I could, and can, be still in Him and trust that my body is His temple and He will care for it.
It is still a huge battle for me, and I know it will always be a weakness. But God is in me and I know that He has granted us rest for a specific reason. Taking a nap is a blessing, sitting out in the sun is a chance to see more of His beauty.
I frequently see God's majesty on morning runs and while walking in nature. But now, I'm learning to see Him in still moments in my room or a still body at the dinner table.
While on vacation, I let myself rest and read. I allowed God to dictate more of my day. Each and every day I let a little more of Him in and listened a little less to the nasty voice of satan in my ear.
That is why I'm so excited to share this journey with you, because I am in awe of the hope God has given me through it and the way He has used this past week to move in me and draw me nearer to Him. I hope that as you look through the upcoming photographs and stories of my awesome Caribbean adventure, you will remember this post and recall the true beauty that God provided me during this vacation: His presence and His rest. Now that I'm back home, it is super hard to establish those habits here and allow myself to rest. But I do know that the freedom I experienced on St. John doesn't have to stay back on the island.
As children of God, we can have joy in every moment. We can choose freedom and peace and joy in Christ. We can also choose to rest in Him, not leaning on our own understanding or trying to work our way up the totem pole. Let me tell you from experience, when you get to the point of utter exhaustion from trying to "manage" and "do" it all-- because you will get to that point-- God is right there. Daddy is waiting with His arms wide open for you to come and collapse into. I think that is the point I am finally at, and it feels good. Really good :)