I hear most of you say, “Of course not!” Yet in practice we sometimes act as though rest and refreshing are sins for PWs.
We arrive on the field full of zeal for the work and buoyed by the sense of our calling. During months of adjusting to the climate, setting up our home, learning the language, and taking on our new responsibilities, the gloss of sacrifice begins to tarnish. Real exhaustion sets in. We feel tired and guilty for it.
We feel guilty if we sleep-in one morning or sneak off for a catnap in the middle of the day. We become irritable, but try with super human determination not to let it slip out. We compare what we are doing to what others seem to accomplish in a day. Depression or condemnation steals our joy.
Sometimes older PWs allow the daily routine or constant interruptions to numb their need for rest. Being so used to doing it all they don’t think anyone should need additional rest. The result is judgment of those needing rest as “weak.”
I’d like to propose a different way to look at this issue.
We are created to need sleep. Adults need between 6-9 hours of sleep each night, even mighty women of faith! If we get good sound sleep, we may do well with less. And of course, if the need arises, we can manage with less than our ideal for a while, but eventually we must get back to a normal schedule. Jesus slept so soundly he didn’t wake during a storm at sea. Peter slept in a prison cell chained to two guards.
God gives his beloved sleep. George Morrison, in his devotions on the 127th Psalm says, “Overwork degenerates into worry.” “By overwork we lose more than we gain, for many of the richest gifts of heaven only approach us through the path of slumber.”
We also need to have rests built into our lives. Music with no rests would have no rhythm and would become very tiresome to listen to. My husband has recently been asking people to picture their lives like a piece of notebook paper. The paper is ruled with top, bottom, and side margins. Now picture all you are doing as writing on that page. Is every line filled with activities or meetings or mental work? Have you started writing out to the edges of the page? What is left of the top and bottom margins? Then have you quit indenting at the beginning of paragraphs? A page like that would be too hard to read. We would say it isn’t worth the trouble to decipher.
Even from creation we are told to work six days and rest on the seventh. Refreshing is built into our basic existence.
New Testament believers walked from place to place with each other. Although it took effort to walk, it also afforded time to think and converse with companions. If you have ever walked anywhere with others, you know you can’t just walk at a fast pace continuously. You slow down to hear each other talk or to see what others point out. Traveling was hard, but not without breaks for drinks and food and rest.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating laziness or frivolous activity. I’m encouraging all of us to find ways to introduce pauses that rejuvenate and revitalize our lives. So, PWs, let’s not fill up the margins of our lives, let’s find ways to rest and be refreshed.
To begin, if you are not getting enough sleep, you may need to rearrange your schedule. Consider what time you must be up and about in the morning and count backwards 6-9 hours and set your bed time. It may take some time to train yourself and others to respect your bedtime, but it is vital if you are going to do your best during the day. If it just isn’t possible to get enough hours of sleep at night, you will need to institute siesta in the afternoon. We just aren’t made to go without enough sleep.
One of the best ways to be refreshed is to do something different than usual with our quiet time. Get a new devotional or write a poem to verbalize praise or walk and pray. Find some opportunities to spend extended time with your Best Friend.
Sometimes the rest we need is digging into an intellectually stimulating study. When we have been saying the same things and hearing the same things over and over, taking the time to seriously consider something new is just the kind of refreshing we need.
Doing something different from our usual activities can be refreshing. If most of our work is in front of a computer monitor, babysitting some preschoolers so their moms can meet together, refreshes us. Seeing life from a small child’s point of view gives us a new perspective on our own lives.
Listening to beautiful music restores our souls. If you cannot fill the room with music, get an MP3 player and have your own private concert. If you know how to play an instrument and haven’t done it in a while, take it out and dust it off and make music.
Do something that makes you feel like a woman again. Take a long shower or soaky bath, do your nails, or get your hair done. I know for some of you, these sound like impossible suggestions. One PW said she always takes a full manicure kit and lots of different nail polishes with her to her field. A manicure lasts just a day or so, but it makes her smile when she sees the pretty colors.
Some PWs love to cook but seldom take time to make anything interesting to eat. Cooking a special meal for their family can be refreshing. Cooking seems to stimulate other creative ideas for them.
When I feel particularly tense or upset, I clean my house. I reorganize the closets and search out every single dust bunny. That is restorative to me. Besides feeling more relaxed after the blizzard of activity, I have a nice clean place to live in for a while. A friend of mine used to rearrange the furniture in her one room village house. The nationals thought she was funny, but she felt better, and just a little more sane.
Do you live in a place where it is safe to walk? Walking is a great relaxer. Maybe you would like to go with a colleague or friend, or maybe taking your child on a nature hike is more fun for you. Take your camera and get shots of some of the delightful things you see on your walk. Nature turns our attention to our Father.
When you have a disk full of pictures, take some time to make scrapbooks or an on-line photo gallery. You will remember many happy or important moments in your life and thankfulness will well up in your heart. Sharing your pictures is one way to pass on your legacy and inspire others.
Have an impromptu party. Invite people you’d like to laugh and play with. Get out some board games or play Charades or tell funny stories and sing silly songs. An evening of belly laughs will do wonders for you and your friends and family.
Put your kids to bed early and have a date night with your hubby. If it is cool where you are, build a fire in the fireplace or light some candles. If you are in the tropics, turn up the fans or set the air conditioner to â€œfreeze.â€ The next step is a warm snuggle. Share a batch of his favorite cookies. Watch a DVD. Snooze together. Don’t make this a time to bring up any serious topic, just reconnect and remember why you love the guy so much.
Peter’s Wife would like to hear how you find refreshing. Some of you live in the bush, some in the city. Some live in cold climates and others in the tropics. You have lots of different ways to be refreshed. Why not share with others? We have over 700 women receiving Peter’s Wife by email now, surely there are others out there who would profit from your ideas. Email your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org