Monday, July 25, 2011

Tired? You Are Not Alone

Tired? I'm Tired. She's Tired. He's Tired. We Are All Tired.

Put It on the To-Do List: Time for Rest and Renewal

Tired to the bone. Weary. Beat. Exhausted. Worn out. I’m tired. She’s tired. He’s tired. We’re all tired. The clock ticks within each of us. I wake at 6—or earlier—and often feel like I’m shot through a cannon as soon as I hop out of bed. The to-do list begins. Today’s is already so long, I know I will not do most things on it. I stopped after item 8 because because everything on the list must happen after I achieve my daily commitments. It’s Monday, 7:09 a.m. and I don’t even want to look at the list, much less tackle it. I’m tired because I think about everything I have to do and no end is in sight for the entire day, much less the entire week, which looms long for the next six days.
The list and the week loom long because I know the list will get longer as each day passes and I imagine myself tired; I get more tired thinking about being tired. But what if I knew the list would end? What if I knew the endless activities would stop? What if I knew I could rest, that I would rest? Would I feel so tired? I think not.
A day of rest is tempting. By rest, I don’t mean a day off. I mean rest, real rest. I don’t know much about other cultures, but in most of America, a day off simply means a day when someone does not attend to their job, whether that job’s location is an office, a classroom, a construction site, a retail business, a restaurant, a mine, a field… A day “off” means doing everything else that isn’t done on workdays. That day “off” means shopping, cleaning, cooking, home repairs, landscaping, bill-paying…. Like me, most Americans have an endless to-do list, and that list gets tackled during the hours away from paid employment.
Leisure time: What’s that? It, too, is going the way of the dinosaur, because what many Americans call play is just another version of work. That play might be fun, social, physically stimulating, health-enhancing, certainly, but too often our play is strikingly similar to work, and even has work in its name: working out, working at our “golf game,” working toward a goal of running a marathon, artwork, needlework, working in the garden. Sailing, skiing, tennis, beach volleyball, a pick-up soccer game, all are worthy physical activities in themselves and provide social contact and stimulation, but they don’t provide rest.
What would a day of rest look like? My day of rest looks like the following: I wake leisurely, without a glance at the clock. A day of rest means I step away from my “work”-day world. On that restful day, I do not work. I attend to my spiritual needs. I stop. I nap. I eat well. I look at the flowers, but don’t trim or weed them. I read a book. I turn off the computer. I reflect. I stop.
Yesterday, I was bone-tired, weary, sleepy. My hands ached from gardening earlier in the week, so I knew if I trimmed one flower or pulled one weed, I would push my hands past overwork and into injury. Other than being physically tired, I was spent emotionally and spiritually. When I told my daughter I was going to church, she said I was “good.” I corrected her: “No. I’m selfish,” I said. “I‘m going because I want to be filled spiritually.”
Sabbath was the sermon topic. It is not exclusive to believers or followers of a faith to observe a Sabbath. Sabbath is religious in connotation, but Sabbath, the word, means “a day of rest.” I was exhausted, so I decided to take a Sabbath. I left soon after the service’s end, came home, put on comfy clothes, and climbed into bed with a book. I napped. I read. I ate. I talked with family. I didn’t avoid the computer completely, but I turned away from the television when I felt anxious and afraid as I watched a few snippets of the movie others were viewing in the living room.
Did taking a day off make any difference? Honestly, it didn’t yesterday because I was too tired to do anything else.
What does make a difference today as my to-do list plays in the background of my mind is that I know this week will end. I have decided I will take a Sabbath next week. Knowing that the list will stop, work will stop, shopping will stop, cleaning and gardening will stop, gives me the energy I need to begin my week. Knowing there is an end in sight makes me less tired. My to-do list for this week has a new, important item: Stop, rest, and renew on Sunday.

What would a day off look like to you? Does your week loom long and burdensome when you view it from a perspective of no end in sight? How would your week look if you knew you would rest, truly rest, on one of the next seven days?

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