Work, then rest. Work, then rest.

See that photo up above, in the header? That’s where I am, right now, as you’re reading these words. It’s a retreat center called Laity Lodge in the middle of the Texas Hill Country, along the Frio River, and it’s quite possibly my favorite place on earth.

There are many reasons for my deep and abiding love for Laity, but here’s one reason. The most precious nugget of wisdom I’ve gained there can be summed up in four words: rest is a good thing.

It is a beautiful thing.

It is even a necessary thing, if we want to grow and flourish and thrive in this life.

Rest and work are part of life’s rhythms, reflected in our universe through the natural order of things: fields that lie fallow after an intense season of harvest; ground buried deep in winter snows, preparing to spring again with new life.

For those who observe a Judeo-Christian tradition, we even see a pattern of rest that follows work in the Creation story. Rest is good.

This begs the question: If we know rest is good, why don’t we do it?

Last Sunday at my church, our pastor talked about the sabbatical he and his family will soon begin. He shared this excerpt from a French poet, Charles Péguy, writing on sleep:

And yet they tell me
There are men who don’t sleep.
I don’t like the man who doesn’t sleep, says God.
Sleep is the friend of man.
Sleep is the friend of God.
Sleep may be my most beautiful creation.
And I too rested on the seventh day.
…Yes, they tell me there are men
Who work well and who sleep poorly.
Who don’t sleep. What a lack of confidence in me…
As a child lays innocently in his mother’s arms, thus they do not lay.
Innocently in the arms of my Providence.
They have the courage to work. They don’t have the courage to do nothing.
They possess the virtue of work. They don’t possess the virtue of doing nothing.
Of relaxing. Of resting. Of sleeping.
Unhappy people, they don’t know what’s good.

We are a busy culture. We prize busyness like a badge of honor.

There are so many reasons we don’t rest: we think we don’t have time, we think we have to keep up with all of our roles at all times, we fear falling behind or being passed over, we can’t say no.

Saying no to busy, to crazy schedules and an overcommitted life is hard. It’s counter-cultural.

In my family, we might do alright for awhile when we have hard-and-fast boundaries in place, but when we loosen the reins and let events and obligations creep in on our time, we find ourselves “suddenly” overwhelmed.

We have to go back to the beginning again, and clear space in both our schedules and our minds and hearts.

Saying yes to rest means we have to say no to other things—even other good things. But that’s okay.

We’re not made for constant work and busyness without rest. We’re made to flourish and thrive in a pattern of work and rest, work and rest.

p.s. Say no to yourself.

Have a good day,
again and again.

If you feel in your bones the need to simplify so you can live the life you're meant to live...

↓ This is for you.

13 Comments

  1. Dawn

    We are in a current season of now beginning the process of transitioning back to the US from SE Asia … as this was a deviation from our original plan and is happening fairly quickly, these are busy days, especially emotionally and mentally. I’m approaching your question a bit differently (more clearing space in my heart and mind, as you mentioned – love that idea and use of words, by the way – that’s helpful to me). I am saying “no” (each day) to fear about some of the unknowns about our future – it robs my joy, ability to drink in these last days here, and the anticipation of good things in the future. I will instead “rest” in faith in the One I know is leading this adventure. Yes, walking by faith vs. fear is how I need to be resting these days (and always, really, but especially right now). Thanks for your words!

  2. Jenn @ A Simple Haven

    Such good reminders! I need to say “no” to obsessively checking my email on my phone throughout the day. I’m realizing that for me, it’s not only a distraction from my kids/work at home, it also creates a mental busyness that I’d rather do without. Especially during this season of the year.

    • Betsy

      I’m with you, Jenn, I think constantly checking e-mail and social media tire me mentally and distract me more than anything. I so want to get myself on a “routine” for this. (routine sounds better than schedule.)

  3. Franziska

    What a great reminder. Just what I needed to hear at the beginning of Lent! And the poem is just beautiful! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  4. Ann Kroeker

    Mmmm….Laity Lodge is a nice place to take an extended Sabbath-rest. Their hospitality makes it possible to find renewal to carry back into life. And it’s a good place to start thinking about “No’s” and “Yes’s.” Enjoyed this call to simplicity and true rest.

  5. Shelly

    Oh, that looks so amazing! Right now I’m in a season in which rest has eluded me for a long time. This isn’t by choice but necessity. I have 11 children- 10 still living at home ranging in age from 9 months to 14 years, so it’s safe to say that I haven’t been able to actually rest in about 15 years. I love this life. but at the same time, I look forward to having a time someday to just sit back, relax, and not worry about anything other than which book I’m going to read next.

  6. Laura

    I was JUST looking at Laity Lodge’s website before I read this. Weird. A guy who worked (works?) there wrote one of my favorite Lenten books ever. It’s called Even Among These Rocks by Stephen Purcell. I was looking him up to see if he’s written anything else recently. Maybe they have a copy you could borrow- it’s full of beautiful artwork and writings. And maybe if you run into him, you could tell him how much his book has meant to me? 🙂 Hope your retreat is awesome!

  7. Sarah m

    I will never forget reading about Bob Goff in an article in Relevant magazine (and later, his book, LOVE DOES) that he quits something every Thursday. Yes, really, he does! It made me laugh out loud and say, ‘of course, yes’.
    Sarah M

  8. Faigie

    My kids love the “rest” part but I tell them rest is only good if it comes after work.

  9. Betsy

    I love Sarah’s comment about quitting something every Thursday! After several busy weeks, I said “NO” on Wednesday to attending a city-wide, multi-church prayer meeting. I put my feet up and parked in my living room with a book; it was so rejuvenating.

    Blessings on your time at Laity Lodge.

  10. Katie May

    I loved this! Rest is so valuable and important but often undervalued and overlooked in our culture. A season of rest was necessary for my little family and I as I entered the first trimester of a pregnancy in January. So, for the months of February and March, we have said “no” to almost all social events and no to all ministry (even canceling a few ministry events) so we could just rest. It has been amazing and necessary for us during this time!

  11. Kara

    Thank you, this is lovely…I’m going to share it with my ladies’ Bible study tomorrow, our topic is rest!

  12. Natalia

    I love Laity! I spent a weekend there last summer and it is truly a special place.

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