Years ago I had surgery and recovered in bed for a week. Unexpectedly, I was excited for the recovery time. I had been busy with college ministry, raising my toddlers, taking care of the home, volunteering at church, and basically trying to keep up with impossible standards in every area of my life and I was exhausted. I thought, “Finally I’ll be able to just get some rest.”
I lay helplessly in bed for days on end. I rested…and rested. But I didn’t feel rested. I felt ennui (ennui: (noun) a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement), but I didn’t feel refreshed. I grew more and more anxious as the days passed; desperation for productivity or purpose or excitement growing uncomfortably inside me, filling me with restlessness.
What a familiar sensation! Memories of those days come back and tease me as I sit inside for Day 1,683,000 of the stay at home order. Even as I sit here, as physically rested as anyone could hope to be, I feel restless and anxious, with a growing desperate need for accomplishment or purpose.
I need rest, so I sit…
I need rest, so I escape – into books, Netflix, Facebook…
I need rest, so I release myself from every requirement of the day. The kids get their own dinner, the dog goes without a walk, my hair goes uncombed.
I begin to think that although my need for rest may be valid, a gift from God, even, my attempts at meeting my need fall short of what can really satisfy.
C. S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
Maybe the best explanation for my restlessness is that it is a soul-restlessness, not a physical one. So I tried to solve my restlessness problem with prayer and Bible reading – “spiritual cures for a spiritual problem” – but my restlessness remained. I don’t seem to have the ability to find true satisfaction for this need. Here in my body, as I still carry around my fleshly desires, I can’t seem to perfectly grasp even the good things that God wants to give me. I can have a tiny taste, but for now that may be all.
A tiny taste! When my heart craves a great five-course feast of rest! My God, I can only have a taste? I am desperate for more.
My soul is crying out for its home, its so-called “eternal rest.” And the funny thing is, I don’t think that “eternal rest” will look anything like the rest I think I want when I’m overwhelmed. I won’t be tired and crave a nap in Heaven. I won’t want to escape the people who need me in Heaven. I won’t feel desperate for a “day off” in Heaven. And when I rest I won’t feel this unease of ennui in Heaven, either.
I will run and play and I won’t crave my couch and my phone.
I will delight in the company of others and I won’t feel a need to retreat into introversion to recover afterwards.
I will sit and read and I won’t feel like I wasted my day.
I will work and serve and I won’t feel like I need a “day off.”
Friends, how I long for the day when I will walk in the garden with my Lord and finally find the complete and perfect peace I crave.
Restlessness deflated. My soul sated.