Dashing from one wall of the house to another, I press myself flat and check all the window shades. They’re all down, no cracks visible. I stand totally still, craning to hear any outside noises. All clear. I look at the dogs and threaten them with zero on-the-sly food scraps if they spill the beans.
Finally, when all is secure, I kick off my shoes and stretch out on the bed. Ahhh. Nap time.
Ten minutes in, the phone rings. I jolt to a sitting position, clear my throat and grab the phone.
“Hello?” I say, immediately alert and putting on my best I-was-just-in-the-middle-of-cleaning-the-toilet voice. “Yes, I can talk, but only for a minute. It’s a busy, busy day.”
“Your voice sounds a little gruff,” the caller says. “Did I interrupt a nap?”
“A nap?” I say. “No, not a nap. Never a nap. Napping,” I say, clearing my throat, “is for wimps.”
After I get off the phone, I catch my wide-eyed “busted” look in the mirror. What was that all about?
The truth is, I used to feel guilty when I rested. I was embarrassed to admit that my body can’t keep up with my tasks or that my brain gets fuzzy after three hours of writing or, even worse, that I’m not the superwoman I think I should be. I didn’t want people to think of me as a nap taker. I’m a go-getter, a hard worker, a woman on the fast track!
I remember the first time I spoke with a friend about my rest issues. I was surprised to hear she felt the same way. Hesitantly, I asked a few others. Same thing. Rest and shame went hand in hand. I wasn’t alone!
I decided to search out the truth and get rid of my rest-robbing shame. I dove into God’s Word, talked to godly friends and even confessed my nap taking to others, hoping such a confession would clear the guilty air.
Aside from a few odd looks at my weepy confessions, people were willing to share what they’d learned. God’s Word is full of encouragement to rest. In Exodus 20:8-11, God stipulates to the Israelites that no work be done on the Sabbath because “he rested on the seventh day.” He even required that rest be given to the soil, knowing it would yield a better crop the following year (Exodus 23:10). And in Matthew 11:28, Jesus promises that the weary and burdened will find rest when they come to Him.
What a relief! So I took it one step further. What did rest actually look like, beyond stealing a few minutes each day to close my eyes? I polled a few people who seem to be productive but also good at resting. They gave me some tips I want to pass on to you.
A short siesta or time to lounge after morning labour (or right when you get home from work) might refresh you for the tasks ahead. But try this: Take the nap in gratitude. Instead of sleeping under the cover of secrecy, wrapped in shame, thank God for a healthy body that allowed you to work hard that day. Thank Him for the moment of rest.
Why do so many of us still feel bad for taking one day of rest out of the week? Here’s the best way to look at it: God took a day of rest, and He saw fit to include it as one of the Ten Commandments. We desperately need a day off each week; it’s not noble or smart to avoid it. Take it. Enjoy it.
Take a holiday once a year. Try not to pack it full of activities from start to finish. Lounge around with your loved ones. Kick up your feet, and tell stories or recount good memories. Slow-paced as those moments may be, they will be the memories you cling to in the chaotic seasons.
Here’s a final crazy idea: Stop what you’re doing, toss aside shame and take a nap right now. Don’t worry about covering the windows or bribing the dogs. Take the phone off the hook; kick off your shoes and thank God for His rest in the midst of a busy day.