On working from rest and approval.

Working FROM a place of rest and approval, (instead of working FOR them both) is the most crucial lifestyle change I’ve made to date. Shout-out to Jesus’ time on earth for showing me how it’s done, and to the Connolly fam for showing me that it’s possible and worthwhile thousands of years later.

I posted the above to my Instagram account this week and received some really good questions. What does that look like? How do I incorporate this idea into daily living? Any logistical tips? I’m not sure what this blog is for if not good old-fashioned diary-keeping, so I’m just going to freestyle this out a bit.

Working from a place of rest and approval takes time. I’ve been consciously living this way for exactly two years now, and I’m just now able to look up and see the fruit. I mean, I’m sure it was there long before. But I feel like I’m just now able to see HOW unhealthy I was before, and HOW much the Lord has healed me.

Working from a place of rest and approval takes effort. I’ve put energy into creating margin and enforcing boundaries. I’ve said no to a lot so that I could yes to a few things that matter right now. I’ve put down my pride and asked people to speak wisdom to me. I’ve accepted the fact that I need more discipline in my life, and I’ve learned to appreciate it once I invited it in.

To learn the basics of working from rest and approval, we must look to Jesus. When I study that man’s life on earth, I do not see balance. I see a man who walked a lot and slept a little. I see a man who worked when he was supposed to rest, and a man who spoke up, very abruptly at times, when he needed to be alone. I may not see the world’s definition of the balance between work and rest when I study the gospels, but I very clearly see Jesus doing one thing, over and over. I see him looking to the Father.

I see Jesus pausing, reading, praising, whispering, writing in the sand, staring at the heavens, challenging, obeying. I see him in constant communion with with his dad, throughout the entirety of his life here. I see him praying. I see him abiding. Because he knew whose he was and what he was doing. He was on mission.

A focus like the one that took Jesus to the cross must have made his life feel pretty cut and dry. I’ll let this in, I’ll cut that out, I’ve got plenty of time for this, no time for that, here’s when I push, here’s when I rest. And if Christ is in us, if we are made in God’s image and vessels of his spirit, then why can’t we ask God for clarity like that?

So that’s exactly what I did. I asked God to show me who I am and what I mean to him. I asked him for ideas on how to live that out in a way that brings him some serious glory and me some serious good. I asked him to show me a woman who was already on a similar mission, so that I might learn from her and spur her on in return. And he didn’t fail me.

He showed me new parts of my design that I’d been ignoring or denying. I learned that my body requires more sleep than my husband’s. I learned that a ritualized skin care regimen slows me down at the end of the day and gives me some order, peace, and time to reflect. I learned that as an introvert, I’m at my absolute best, most whole self when I have a few minutes of alone time each day. I learned that I’m a leader and a communicator, born to speak life into a lot of hearts over a lot of years. He broke off shame and spoke freedom.

He showed me my purpose for the foreseeable future. He told me to read more of his words than I have in my entire life. He asked me to show so much grace to my husband that it makes me want to scratch my head and second-guess it all sometimes. He showed me the power that lies in the relationships forged with my children. He gave me a team of women to lead and asked me to lead only them for awhile. He helped me fall back in love with nursing, just in case it’s the only career he approves for the next decade. He broke off bitterness and spoke blessed assurance.

He gave me a sister. Jess and Nick give the best working-from-rest talk I’ve ever heard. Ask them about the pendulum illustration sometime. Jess and Hayley just finished writing one of the most beautiful, tactical arguments for a woman’s identity in Christ that I’ve ever read. Jess is the friend who grabs my face and reminds me whose I am and what I’m doing. And when I can’t answer or I can’t agree with her, she holds my arms up while I hear from the Lord again.

So that’s what it means to me, to work from rest and approval. I belong to Jesus. I’m precious in his sight. I’m fearfully and wonderfully made. I’m uniquely equipped for such a time as this, a purpose and mission made just for me. The more time I spend with him, in his word and on my yoga mat and in discussions with my husband about God’s character, the more cut and dry my life feels. Cut and dry, in the best way.

And so I push. I press on. I march. I accept and appreciate and honor and protect the details he’s placed in me, the ones that require a little extra attention and time and space. I spend three hours in a hair salon twice a year. I go on date nights even when I don’t want to, and sometimes I decline playdates on behalf of my children who can’t say no yet. I turn off my work phone at 5:01pm when I could easily go until 7pm. I press the FaceTime button when I’d rather text with Jess, and I invite her to take a hard look and speak life and truth to me.

And lo and behold, everything fits. Nothing feels forced or broken or burnt out. My life feels more peaceful and joyful than ever. There are hard days and loud voices and tears, but most days all I’ve got is praise. Thanks, God. And I count some more fruit.

 

Just you wait.

I used to say that people meant well when they said it, but now I’m not even sure I believe that anymore. I heard it when I graduated high school and the world was my oyster. I heard it when I’d just said “I do.” I heard it when I found out I was pregnant, and when I took two hours to get out of the house with one baby. I heard it at the grocery store when I tried to keep eyes on the kids and the cart and the list. I still hear it when I meet a couple who has been married twenty years.

JUST YOU WAIT.

Just you wait until you get out of college with all of that debt and can’t find a job. Just you wait until y’all start having babies. Just you wait until the birth. Just you wait until you have more than one kid to look after. Just you wait until they’re asking to borrow the car. Just you wait until you’re a homeowner and the water heater bursts. Just you wait until you have an empty nest. Just you wait until the arthritis sets in and the hearing starts to go.

Can we just not? If our only job as Jesus-followers is to shine his light, can we just not talk like that to people? And while I’m on my soapbox, why do I hear the phrase coming from more women than men? It ain’t cool. It ain’t pure. It ain’t lovely.

I would’ve given anything for a sweet college grad to lead me in deep-breathing exercises while I filled out applications. This is so important, yes, but it’s not life or death. It’s just not.

I would’ve given anything for a married woman to squeeze my newly-engaged hand. It’s gonna be great. It’s gonna be so hard, and so holy.

I would’ve given anything for a seasoned mom to rub my pregnant belly – no, my back. Or my feet. It hurts so much, doesn’t it? Your body, your brain, your heart. This is what lovesick feels like.

To this day, I would love to run into a nice couple while I’m out on a date with my husband, a couple who stays quiet when they find out how many kids we have and instead, tells me everything with a smile. You’re doing great. These are good years.

Always the clarifier, I must do so here. I’m still in the thick of dealing with my own pride and defensiveness. Heck, I’ll probably always be in the thick of dealing with it. The last couple of years have been ones during which I’ve learned to receive correction and constructive feedback. And I’m still on that journey. I’m letting the Lord lead me to see how humble can I get, how vulnerable can I get, how soft I can get.

I know I can’t be found out. I know I’m seen and loved. I know I don’t need approval from anywhere or anyone else and yet at the same time, I try to live in a space where trusted people have the freedom to speak truth into my life and choices and relationships. But I’m not talking about the folks who have patched you up in the trenches and sent you back out to battle. I’m talking loose lips. I’m talking flippant speech. I’m talking “if you can’t say something nice…”

I’m talking about taking James 3 seriously. How powerful would it be, to shift a generation of naysayers into a generation of encouragers? What if we turned “just you wait” from a negative to a positive? What if women moved through seasons of life feeling empowered and spurred on by other women, instead of challenged and threatened? What in heaven’s name would that look like? Can you even imagine?

Just you wait, it’s gonna be incredible. Just you wait, you’ll look back on this and smile so hard. Just you wait, you won’t regret what’s coming next. Just you wait, God is mighty in you and he’ll blow your mind if you let him.

JUST YOU WAIT.

Reaching for comfort in 2016.

I plan on it this year. Reaching for comfort is actually a New Year’s resolution, of sorts. Notice I’m not saying chasing after comfort. I’m not talking about indulging. I’m talking about acknowledging what’s already here, soaking up the goodness from the Father that exists around me. I’m talking about an extra five minutes in bed with my husband, laughing and preparing for the day. I’m talking about locating and bringing my raincoat with me to work when I hear that it might be storming.

I’ve talked a lot about self-care in the past, and Shauna Niequist did a fantastic job with this post (a year ago exactly, in fact). Like she says, it’s important for us to know and believe our worth. It’s important to take care of ourselves so that we can care well for others. If we’re Jesus followers, it’s important to physically and emotionally and spiritually care for the temple his spirit calls home.

But I’m not really talking about self-care, at least not in the ways I used to. I’m talking about good old-fashioned gratitude. Thanks, God, for this pocket of time to take a bath. I’m gonna use all of the oils and bubbles. Thanks, God, for a job that allows such flexibility. I’m gonna pull over and clean out my car and wash the windows. Thanks, God, for lining up Holy Yoga instructor training this year. I’m gonna put a fancy warm blanket on my hard desk chair, and light a candle for every class. Thanks, God, for a husband who loves adventure in our home. I’m gonna keep buying bottles of wine until we learn to like one.

Here’s to every single candle of mine getting burned to the bottom by summer. Here’s to a couple of extra throw blankets purchased and left meaningfully around the house. Here’s to an empty bottle of the fancy shampoo. Here’s to a commitment to wearing winter gloves. Here’s to running out to my car late, coffee sloshing, because I braided my girls’ hair for school. Here’s to reaching for the goodness and favor of the Father, manifested in small moments of comforts sprinkled around my life.