Thursday, June 30, 2011

Resisting A Rest

I can hear that high pitched, whiny cry again; coming from the darkened room where my toddler is supposed to be sleeping.  In between washing dishes and preparing pizza dough for supper tonight, I wipe my hands dry on my cotton shorts and open the door to his room.  He squints into the light, looking at me, and reaching his arms up.

"Why aren't you sleeping?"  I question him in a sing-songy voice.  These morning naps are still a necessity to me, both for his well-being and my ability to get things done around the house.

I don't smell a dirty diaper, and he doesn't appear overly upset.  Then I see the reason for his lack of slumber.  His soother, usually clipped onto his shirt where it can easily be found, has been tossed out of the playpen and onto the floor.

"Oh Ezra!"  I groan with exasperation.

This has become a habit as of late; him pulling with all his might until the soother detatches from his clothes.  Then he purposefully tosses it out of the playpen, as if to say "Nope!  Not gonna sleep... I'm done napping!"  He even does this first thing in the morning when I get him out of bed.  Even if I take the soother and hang it onto the side of the playpen, he'll grab it and forcefully toss it AWAY from the playpen.

I nursed my little one, hoping to soothe him into a state of calm and I put him back to bed, the soother, once again firmly attached.

Sometimes I wonder why tired little ones work so hard to resist rest.  As adults, we are well aware of the benefits and blessings of "down-time" and any day where I actually get to lay down for a quick cat-nap is a rare, well-appreciated treat!  Yet, here's my little active boy, whom, if given the opportunity would rather wander around the house whining and making messes than have a nap when he needs one.

I have to admit, in some ways I can relate to the idea of resisting rest.  I find myself rushing about, cleaning things that could left for a while, engaging in activities that don't serve to bring peace into my life and hurrying myself and my family all over the place, as if life can't wait for us.

While it is good to establish a sense of physical rest (and this is something I explored in my posting about Sabbath) God offers a deeper kind of rest to us, as seen in Hebrews chapter 4.   Sadly, we often live our lives being too busy, too distracted or we are simply living in disobedience and do not enter into the rest that He gives.  To break it down very simply, rest that you attain in God is acquired merely by belief (or faith) in Him,  as you accept His grace for your life.  Hebrews 4:16 so beautifully instructs us in this process, saying "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."  We can approach with confidence because grace isn't based on what we do and who we are.  Grace is based upon a loving God who paved the way for us, through Jesus.

It feels so natural to resist asking for help.  I'm the kind of person who likes be the martyr and get things done on my own, even if the task looks too great and too difficult.  This tendency in normal, everyday situations lends to my resistance of God, causing me to carry the emotional weight and responsibility of things I shouldn't have to bear.  Not only that, but when I resist His rest, I end up spending far more time worrying, afraid and unhappy because I'm not trusting Him.

My little guy fell asleep - perhaps he recognized the wisdom in choosing to take this time to nap peacefully.  Or maybe he just gave up, realizing that for now, Mommy is smarter and stronger and he shouldn't resist me.  Either way, I can concede that there is a little bit of my toddler's tendencies in myself.  I am aware that I have an inclination to resisting rest.  Will I continue to be stubborn, making life more miserable for myself and others - or will I enter into the rest that is freely offered?

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