What makes a mom a good mom? What kind of things do we do for our children – our families – things that we know we should do or want to do because we love our people? Things that another mom looks at and might say, “she is such a good mom.”
A good mom…feeds her kids nutritious food
A good mom…takes her kids out on individual dates regularly
A good mom…helps her kids with their homework
A good mom…makes sure her kids clothing needs are taken care of
A good mom…makes sure her kids get to practices and games and has everything they need to succeed in their sport
A good mom…volunteers at her kids school
A good mom…plans and hosts a fun birthday party for her birthday kid
The list could go on and on and on.
Here’s the deal. Those are all great things and we’re not here to talk down on those things. Some of the things on that list – making sure our kids have the clothes or food they need -are things we should all be doing. Some of the things – hosting a fun birthday party – are optional things. Not all of us are going to be the kind of moms that throw fun birthday parties and that is totally okay. We celebrate the moms that throw amazing parties and confidently know that we do other things for our kids that are just as special and meaningful, even if they are different.
Did you notice something about the list we made? Did you notice how all of the things we listed have one thing in common? They are all actions – things that we are doing to show up for our kids and our families and take care of them.
Right from the start, we are action-oriented as mamas. Our baby wakes up in the middle of the night and we get up because we know they need fed and their diaper changed. Our babies come into the world solely dependent on our nurture, love and care, and while the ways we mother will change as our children grow and their needs change, we never stop laboring for our children.
We feed them, we clothe them, we play with them, we teach them, we drive them around, we keep track of all the appointments – the doctor, the dentist, haircuts, orthodontist, on and on.
But there’s one more thing I want to add – something that could shift the tempo of the constant motherhood juggling act. One more thing I want to add to that never-ending, relentless list – something I have a feeling we all need reminded of sometimes – and this is what we’re going to talk about today:
A good mom… rests.
You can laugh with me for a second. It’s okay. When God started laying this on my heart, I was laughing too.
You want me to talk about rest? I’m not sure I have any advice.
The truth is, I am not very good at resting. Some of the girls on the Thursday morning leadership team tease me about sleeping because I’m often up late and I’m usually up early. To be honest, I’m working on cultivating more rest in my life – as a means of enjoyment and also necessity. I’m right in the middle of this, really, and God has this way of constantly asking me to keep stepping into the waters that aren’t so put together.
So we’re going to talk about rest.
Merriam-Webster defines rest as – REST: to get rest by lying down, to cease from action or motion, refrain from labor or exertion, be free from anxiety or disturbance, peace of mind or spirit
I want to pause here for a second. When does this happen? When we fall into bed exhausted? Even here at MOPS – we’re still expending social energy, we’re processing stuff.
Let me read it again:
REST: To get rest by lying down, to cease from action or motion, refrain from labor or exertion, be free from anxiety or disturbance, peace of mind or spirit
It literally just feels impossible. I get that. As moms, our work is never-ending. There is always something to do. As fast as we are doing the laundry the hamper is filling again. In addition, some of us are working and trying to juggle those demands with the never-ending demands of caring for our families. Some of us have kids who never rest. I remember the sheer exhaustion I felt when my oldest was five months old and only slept in 30-45 minute intervals of time – day and night.
No matter what the unique dynamics of our different lifestyles, how can we value rest and find rest as moms?
First, I think it’s important to realize that how our culture views rest is different than what rest actually is. In a leadership training I did in December, the leader laid this important groundwork for talking about rest.
“We live in a society that rewards a busy schedule. I think we often feel good when our schedule is completely full,” she said. “There’s this culture of being rewarded if you’re going and going, but that narrative isn’t really true of a healthy leader. Rest is not a reward.”Laurie Jarvis
Rest is not a reward.
Laurie continued and shared, “Rest is not a reward. It’s required – it’s needed. It’s how we get refueled, refreshed, it’s how we get connected to God. Rest allows us to tackle our goals, our days…rest fuels us to move forward in life. We have great purpose. We have kingdom purpose. We don’t have to adopt the cultural model.”
Her words deeply resonated with me. I like rewarding myself. If I get this done, I’ll give myself ____________________.” Tell me I’m not alone here. Tell me you know how this works. The other day I got in the car to run errands after a hectic and hard day, “I deserve a treat.” I told myself and instantly started thinking through my options for a splurge.
Treats are fine. Rewards aren’t bad. I’m not here to take away all your well-deserved splurges. I’m saying this to point out how easy it is to take our cues from #hustle obsessed culture and end up treating rest like chocolate or coffee or ice cream.
But rest is not a reward – it’s needed and required for wholeness and health as women…as mamas. How many times have we sat in a group of women and heard these words:
“I don’t have time for that,” when someone is talking about a form of rest or relaxation.
Yes, yes, we do. A good mom rests.
When God labored and worked to create the world, He rested the seventh day. (Genesis 2:2-3) Right from the beginning, God gave us an example of rest and He set aside an entire day for it. It’s important to note that our need for rest is not because the world is broken and life is hard. Throughout the Gospels, we also see Jesus resting – physically, mentally, and spiritually.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”Matthew 11:28-30
Your immune system, your ability to focus and concentrate, your mood and even your metabolism is affected by whether you’re physically resting your body enough. It is medically recommended that adults get no less than seven hours of sleep per night and according to experts – it is rare for anyone to need fewer than six hours of sleep to function well.
Cynthia LaJambe, a sleep expert explains: “Some people think they are adapting to being awake more, but are actually performing at a lower level. They don’t realize it because the functional decline happens so gradually.”
Do you remember the story of Jesus calming the storm that threatened to shipwreck the boat (Mark 4:35-41)? Jesus had spent the day teaching to a crowd of people. When evening came, He suggested they sail to the other side of the lake. As the waves from a furious squall broke over the boat, Jesus was sleeping.
I’m sure there were things to do. Things Jesus could have probably helped with. The disciples were navigating a boat across the lake at His request. But Jesus went and slept.
Our bodies need adequate physical rest. Sleep is a required and needed priority – not a reward. I know there are seasons of life where this is easier than others, but those times should be more of a quick sprint or a mad dash and not the normal pace you live your life.
My sister got married this September and the five days leading up to her wedding, I averaged four hours of sleep a night. The night before she got married I went to bed at three am and was awake at six, making breakfast and getting my house ready for the bride and bridesmaids to all come get ready for the wedding. That’s a mad dash – not a normal pace.
Physical rest can also just be slowing down and taking a break from work. Picking up a book or magazine. Doing a craft, painting a picture, trying out a new hobby. Getting a pedicure or taking a spa day.
When you find a minute to sit, how easy is it to turn on a show or start scrolling through your phone or both at the same time? We think of this mindless entertainment as rest, but quick access to technology always at our fingertips means we also always have quick access to an entire world of conflict, news and endless information.
Endless scrolling overloads our already-tired brains with information and binge-watching drains our ability to process information. Boundaries with our screen time will help us be intentional to pursue and enjoy mental rest. We weren’t created to live in a constant state of stimulation. Give your mind a break – regularly.
In her book Rhythms of Renewal, Rebekah Lyons shares:
“Resting from technology…gives us greater capacity to be present to the moment right in front of us. We are able to be our best selves when we are centered in a place of quiet rest.”
Jesus pulled away from the crowds when He needed rest. He retreated – from people, from noise, from information. There were always people pressing in around Him – needing something.
Sounds a little bit like how I feel sometimes as a mother. I’ve had my fair share of days when my husband walked in the door and said, “what’s wrong?” and I told him, “Everyone always just needs something from me.” As moms, we play this role of being all things to our people, plus some and often we’re frazzled, exhausted, over-extended. I don’t know about you, but I find it much easier to default on mindless entertainment and numb out than intentionally pursue mental rest, but this is important.
We live in such a beautiful world. There is so much to see and experience. Sit on your front porch and listen to the sounds of nature. In the summer, I love to sit on my front porch at dusk and listen to the night sounds and watch the last sliver of sun disappear. I love to feel the stillness. Bundle up and take a walk – even in the winter. Beyond the many health benefits linked to getting fresh air, it does wonders for clearing your head. Sit and sip a hot drink without looking at your phone, TV or computer…just to be.
Ultimate rest is found in Christ. Remember the verse from Matthew I shared before? Jesus invites us to get away and recover. In Christ, we can completely rest – from the cares of the world, the sorrows we grieve, from the need to work to make ourselves acceptable to Him.
I don’t know about you, but the more difficult my circumstances are – the more out-of-control things feel, the easier it becomes to shift into high-gear and leave my peace behind. Resting does not come naturally to us. God knows this, which is why He sets the example of resting and calls us to rest.
Prayer. Meditation. Worship music. Reading God’s Word. Journaling.. These are all ways we can pursue spiritual rest.
To spiritually rest, we have to trust that the world won’t stop spinning if we take a break – or a day off. You are not more holy or significant if you live exhausted or burnt-out, mamas. The command to rest is not an excuse to be lazy, but you are not supposed to always be serving. God Himself rested.
Rebekah Lyons shares:
“We run fueled by a posture of rest. God meant for all our work – all our serving -to culminate in holy, blessed rest – rest meant to help us reconnect with Him. We don’t have to run to earn rest.”
Remember – rest is rewarding, but it’s not a reward. Rest is a gift given not a prize earned.
We are called to rest. Taking time to rest is loving ourselves and our families and our God.
This is going to look unique for each one of us. We are all living different lives. Mamas with newborn babies or toddlers who don’t like to sleep – your rest will look different from someone who has kids that have moved outside of the house. Your rest is going to look different if you’re someone who has a schedule blocked calendar to someone who is spontaneous and flying by the seat of their pants. We are all different in how we do life and this is beautiful and good. Don’t compare. Celebrate the strengths of the mama sitting across the table from you. Enjoy the strengths you have to share.
We all have gifts and talents and creative abilities at work inside of us. We all have imagination and ideas and innovation. We discover more of who we are, more of who we have been created to be, when we slow down and rest. If you don’t know how to say no, do you know what it means to say yes?
“Is the life you lead the life that longs to live in you? Rest from responsibility long enough to take inventory. The truest surrender is the full embrace of the life you are called to live today. You are worthy to receive something beautiful.”Rebekah Lyons
Biblegateway. www.biblegateway.com. Accessed Jan. 2022.
Got Questions.www.gotquestions.org. Accessed Jan. 2022.
Lyons, Rebekah.Rhythms of Renewal.Zondervan.2019.
Merriam Webster. www.merriam-webster.com. Accessed Jan. 2022
Newman, Tim.”Medical Myths: How Much Sleep Do We Need.” 24 Aug. 2020. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/medical-myths-how-much-sleep-do-we-need. Accessed Jan. 2022
Ruder, Debra Bradley.”Screeen Time & the Brain”.19 June, 2019. https://hms.harvard.edu/news/screen-time-brain. Accessed Jan. 2022
Questions to Consider
- Are you getting enough physical rest? How can you prioritize sleep better? Is there a hobby you could pursue more, to physically rest your body?
- How do you prioritize mental rest? How do you want to prioritize mental rest in the future?
- Do you think it’s important to have boundaries for social media? Share your boundaries if you have some. What works for you?
- How do you engage in spiritual rest?
- What are some of your gifts and talents and creative abilities? How are you enjoying those gifts and abilities?
- Rebekah Lyons said, “Is the life you lead (the one you’re currently living) the life that longs to live in you (think: your gifts, talents, dreams)? Rest from responsibility long enough to take inventory. The truest surrender is the full embrace of the life you are called to live today. You are worthy to receive something beautiful.” What do you think – are you fully embracing your life today? What keeps you from not trying something you’ve always dreamed of doing? What keeps you from taking the risk of trying something new? Is it worth it? Is the life you lead the life that longs to live in you?
All pictures belong to Renee Shafer.