There are some amazing ways to have more rest and joy in our lives if we are willing to step out and take them.
My discovery started with the decision to sell our home. Of all things.
To downsize, to be specific.
With over half of our eight kids now grown and gone, we wanted to find a house nearly half the size of the one we raised them in.
And this is why I was suddenly motivated to seriously reduce the stuff we own. As in, I was determined to get rid of a third, or even a half, of our belongings so we could fit into a new, smaller home.
Thankfully, my determination paid off because ta-da! I now invite you to open up any cupboard or closet and observe all that blank space that used to hold a lot of stuff—stuff I thought was “essential” or at least “highly desirable” at one time.
Yet, it wasn’t nearly as necessary as I once believed when it really came down to it.
Not only was it unnecessary, but I can see now that I was paying the price for hanging onto all that extra, and I can hardly describe how free and light I feel with the excess removed.
Room for More Rest
So tell me, what does your downsizing have to do with rest? And more joy?
Ha! I thought you might ask that. Stay with me…
After experiencing my “light and airy” feeling of managing less stuff, I wondered what would happen if I took the same streamlined approach with my time.
Are you tracking with me?
What if instead of viewing my day as 24 hours to pack it all in, I “downsized” instead. What if I was realistic that I didn’t have that much energy? That I can’t do it all. That I don’t need to do it all. Maybe I shouldn’t do it all.
So I looked at my calendar, schedule, and commitments and did what I could to reduce everything by a third or more. I was ruthless. And the results were astounding.
First of all, I was surprised how much I’d been taking on that wasn’t nearly as essential as I’d believed.
Secondly, my suspicions were confirmed: I’d been carrying too much for far too long.
Last, and most importantly, I began to enjoy a fresh sense of peace and joy that I hadn’t experienced in some time. A better-rested body and a calmer spirit. A sharper mind and a brighter outlook.
The Hard Work of Resting
I said in the beginning that the Great House Purge prompted this change, and yet that wasn’t my only inspiration…
Because in that same season, I was reading through the gospels for my Bible study time, and I came across this fascinating verse:
And He (Jesus) said to them (His disciples), “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. (Mark 6:31)
And do you want to know what jumped out at me here?
Jesus commanded it. He didn’t miraculously “zap” his disciples nor force them to come away. Instead, He instructed them that they needed to 1) Pull away from the noise and 2) purpose to rest.
Am I the only one who finds this mind-blowing? Here Jesus was telling the disciples that they were the ones who needed to make the decision — to do the hard work, if you will — of resting.
7 Very Practical Ways to Make Room for More Rest and Joy
So how about you? Is Jesus calling you to come away and rest? If so, then let me share seven very practical ways to find more room for rest and joy in your life. They might not be new to you or particularly profound, but perhaps they’ll inspire you to make some changes that will slowly make a difference in your life.
1. Stay true to your real priorities.
Take the time to write out your priorities–such as your marriage, family, community, friendships, interests, etc. Then carefully sift through your commitments and limit them to those that matter most to you.
2. Reduce the amount of noise coming in.
For me, this meant deleting half the apps on my phone and unsubscribing to many emails (ranging from shopping sites to news outlets). For you, it might be bowing out of a health or homeschooling forum that perhaps was helpful at one time but now is adding pressure or even drama to your life.
3. Go to bed an hour earlier each night.
Obvious, I know. But harder than you’d think. It might mean giving up on your favorite Netflix series or trying to squeeze more work in after the kids are in bed. So get strict with your bedtime. You won’t be sorry.
4. Get up 30 minutes earlier every morning.
You see where I’m going here. I’m not a morning person, but I have to admit that having those 30 minutes of quiet with the Lord before the day begins is both healing and life-giving.
5. Schedule space for each day.
What I mean is purposely set aside a blank time for each day. I even went so far as to write it in my planner as if it was an appointment. I figured if I could carve out a half hour to be in the dentist’s chair, surely I could carve out something similar for my porch chair. Admittedly, it doesn’t always work out, but I do try to keep this “appointment.”
6. Replace a must-do with a want-to-do every week.
Last night I had a dear friend, a homeschooling mom of three young children, confide that she longed just to walk the aisles of the craft store like she used to do before kids. I encouraged her to make that a priority this week. She is not a selfish or shallow person. She’s a responsible and creative person (as well as a wife, mother, and teacher), and it’s rejuvenating to make space for creativity. And if that means splurging with take-out or settling for leftovers for dinner for one night? Personally, I believe it’s a good choice.
7. Purpose to rest in the Lord.
As Christians, we can read all the lovely (and true!) verses about “resting in the Lord” but forget that there’s something we need to do. For example, He calls us to “be still and wait patiently” (Ps. 37:7) – that’s on us to do. Jesus says, “Come to me,” and He promises to give us rest (Matt. 11:28). But it’s up to us to go to Him.
So come away, friend, and rest awhile.
But how can I possibly rest in my current, stressful season?
You have young children, and they take up your every minute and sometimes more. You’re working two jobs or one overly demanding one. You’re struggling with chronic illness—either yourself or someone you love. You’re homeschooling or a work-from-home mom or caring for an aging parent. Maybe a combination of several of these things!
First of all, friend, my heart goes out to you. I’ve experienced all those challenges, plus a few others not listed here. And I fully recognize that there are seasons where it’s a matter of laying down your life day after day and night after night. It is both right and necessary.
Yet even still — maybe even more so — I encourage you to try as many of these suggestions as possible. For instance, looking back on the early days of caring for our daughter with special needs, I wish I would’ve spent just 15 minutes every afternoon sipping a cup of tea and breathing and praying. I think it would’ve done my body and spirit so much good.
And when I look back to when we were caring for my dear mother-in-law with Alzheimer’s, I regret not taking one afternoon a week to read my book in the sunshine or go for a walk around the lake. I believe we would both have benefited from that break.
So when I offer these suggestions, I’m not addressing those in a season of life with options and luxuries. Rather, I’m speaking to you, the one who has so much on her plate that (ironically) she has no leisure even to eat.
While you’re still inspired, I encourage you to take the time this week to sort through your stuff – the noise, the commitments, the responsibilities – and ask the Lord to show you what you can reduce or eliminate.
Then rest. Slow down and enjoy the small beauties and blessings found in each and every day.
In His grace,