April 5, 2022
The Opposite of Burnout Is Jesus
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"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
The word fell out of my mouth like a sigh I'd been holding in for days. It had been another busy week, filled with work, household chores, social gatherings and the constant demands of mothering. One evening I burst into tears over dinner, expressing to my husband just how burned out I felt.
"You should try to get some rest tomorrow," he responded.
Longing washed over me as my eyes welled up with tears. Oh, how I ached to rest! But as a wife, mother, homemaker, business owner and writer, I wasn't sure I even knew how to rest anymore.
When I was growing up as a homeschooled missionary kid overseas, I used to be able to rest effortlessly. My childhood was slow-paced and peaceful, filled with days of reading, playing games with my siblings, running around outside and sitting by a fire at night. But seasons passed, and things changed all too quickly.
I graduated high school, moved internationally, went to college, got married, started a business and had a baby. All of a sudden, the margin was gone from my life, and every moment had to be accounted for. As my schedule filled with the responsibilities of adulthood, my ability to rest dissolved.
In an attempt to feel rejuvenated, I started bingeing TV shows, scrolling through social media and heading to thrift stores. Instead of providing refreshment, however, these activities made my fidgeting heart even more restless. Burnout was inevitable.
Does this picture sound familiar to you?
If you are a woman living in the 21st century, then you probably understand exactly what I'm talking about. After all, we live in an era of productivity. Our culture has taught us that our value is found primarily in what we produce, which results in a lifestyle of unhealthy "hustle." This problem has not gone unnoticed, as evidenced by the surging self-care trend. A quick search on Instagram under the hashtag #selfcare reveals a myriad of "solutions" to our problem of overproductivity.
"Take a deep breath, and do your own thing," one cutely drawn illustration advises. "Trust what you feel, not what you hear," says another.
One man poses in front of a sauna with a list of all its benefits.
Another post suggests face masks and salt baths as a great way to relax.
A yoga instructor claims to have the answer to stress while a clean-eating influencer is convinced that all our problems would be solved by cutting out sugar.
Massages, pedicures, vacations, lattes, spa days, loungewear, sleeping pills, teas, oils, customized mattresses - no one works harder to rest than these people do.
But what if rest isn't just sleep or self-pampering? What if rest is more than a vacation or a prescription? What if real rest goes far beyond the world's definition of self-care?
What if rest is a person?
There is someone who has claimed to be our ultimate provider of rest. Jesus told the crowds, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28-29, NIV).
The truth is that our problem of sin, death and brokenness can't be solved by a spa day or a sweet latte. Real rest must begin at a soul-deep level because that's where our deepest weariness abides. In order to refresh our souls, we need the Maker of rest Himself, which means that a self-care regimen that omits Christ will always fall short.
Personally, I am learning every day how to rest in the presence of Jesus. I'm learning to watch TV less and pray more. I'm learning to take my eyes off my phone and point them toward God's glory-filled sky, and I'm learning to find refreshment in the pages of Scripture instead of down the aisles of a thrift store.
I'm learning a little more every day that rest is a person and that the refreshment He provides isn't dependent on my circumstances or my schedule but on my obedience to come running into His arms.
If you are weary and burdened, then Jesus is saying, "Come to me." If you're tired of keeping up with the "rat race" or drained from having to constantly perform, then turn to the One who has already done the most important work for you. His command is simply to come and rest.
Heavenly Father, I pray that we would be irresistibly drawn to the rest You give. I pray that we would submit the busyness of our lives into Your gentle hands and find refreshment in Your presence. Continue to teach each of us what it means to really rest, and help us to prioritize spending time with You, starting today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
For a practical guide to having a quiet time, see Naomi Vacaro's book Quiet: Creating Grace-Based Rhythms for Spending Time with Jesus.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Psalm 16:11, "You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures." (CSB)
What are your current go-to methods for resting? How might you enjoy more time with Jesus in your current schedule? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
© 2022 by Naomi Vacaro. All rights reserved.