This week Carl and I went away for a rest! Now you may say; isn’t that why people go on holiday anyway- for a rest?
Not Carl and I. Or allow me to rephrase: not when I go on holiday and my selfless husband goes along with my itinerary! Usually when we book a holiday I have already researched and sought out places of interest, tourist spots and sights not to be missed! Our first holiday to Paris was an insight of what was to come if Carl was to marry me. We booked one of those ‘3-night city breaks’ and I don’t think there’s one sight we missed! I’m an avid walker too, so yes you guessed it- I was not about to miss out on all the scenery and backstreets of Paris that we wouldn’t see by catching the metro- so we walked! Or more like paced round Paris, trying desperately to cram everything in. The same when we went to Rome, and when we travelled Europe for a whole month you can only imagine what our itinerary looked like for that one! Fortunately, Carl wasn’t put off!
So you see, we, or I don’t exactly do rest when it comes to holidays! For years I despised the thought of booking a beach holiday or all inclusive. Being stuck in one place, missing out on the culture of a new country and its marvelous sights- even in the UK- is just not me.
As this pregnancy is drawing to an end, I’m feeling more daunted, experiencing a whole combination and surge of emotions (and all the other lovely hormones that pregnancy brings!) about how we will cope with parenthood, what do we do with a baby! – Bit late now I guess!
But with these emotions and work/life balance has caused stress! So with only one week’s window of opportunity for a break away together before our little girl arrives, Carl I and book a week off work and decide to stay local in the UK as it’s far too risky for me to fly now. The aim of this holiday, for once, is to rest! We both enjoy reading and I love to write and swim. Carls first name should’ve been relax/chill or laid back so this plan suited him perfectly.
It’s actually been refreshing knowing that even though the pre-pregnant me would’ve arranged scenic routes to go waking/hiking for this trip and local landmarks to see- that actually at this stage now I neither have the energy or physical ability to do either. So I have learned in this final trimester to ACCEPT and enjoy doing things at a slower pace for a while- short lived I’m sure once the baby arrives.
We spent our first two nights in a spa hotel which was absolute bliss! I don’t know if you’re the same, but when I take time out of my busy schedule to go on holiday it always takes me at least the first day to actually come down from my busy lifestyle and start to relax. By the second day, I was lounging around the hotel with Carl, reading by the pool, swimming, reading some more, writing (or typing) in the breakfast room with a window view overlooking the lake- I was beginning to feel very chilled!- are rare occasion.
I’m confident and believe God knows what a busy schedule is like- C’mon, he created the world in 7 days and knew he needed a rest at the end of it!
On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.
We’d decided that over the next few days we would spend time near Hull and Whitby as we’d visited Whitby once before and always said we’d go back when we had more time.
However, I found the travelling and routine of packing and unpacking from one hotel to the next was unsettling me. I couldn’t quite relax and this was preventing me from feeling rested. These feelings of un-settlement brought about anxiety and I felt like the enemy was stealing my joy! I had a stern word with myself. What did I have to moan about?! Each hotel had lovely facilities where Carl could use the gym and me the pool, we were both away from work and busyness of life back home, we were enjoying meals out, spending quality time together, and the best of all- I’m carrying our baby due in 6 weeks for goodness sake! – how could I be feeling so unsettled and anxious?
Yet, despite this revelation, thoughts of disappointment and discontent seemed to have moved in at the forefront of my mind, invading the few days I had left to enjoy this holiday. I quickly compared each hotel and my feelings to those on our first few nights at the hotel by the lake where I felt totally relaxed. Then regret and doubt came; maybe we should have just risked it and booked a holiday abroad? Maybe we should have stayed in one hotel instead of moving around? Maybe we should have just saved our holiday allowance and not booked a break away at all!
My joy was well and truly stolen and it was spoiling my ability to to just rest!
This really bothered me and I recognised it immediately. Carl was also picking up on something given away by my change in attitude.
I chose that morning to spend time in prayer before I read my book. I felt God speak so gently to me- REST IN ME!
I’d missed the mark by a long shot! I had been so consumed and focused on seeking my rest in the capability of hotels and what their facilities could offer to help me relax, that I had completely bypassed learning to rest in Him! To seek His presence, to rest and be still in Him, to call on Him to lighten my load, to ask for rest.
I was reading a book written by a well known Christian lady: Kay Warren, I was reading my bible daily, but I wasn’t spending time with Him giving him my undivided attention- which for a very rare occasion I actually had lots of time to do just that.
I was ticking off a spiritual checklist unconsciously, trying to feel closer to God.
“My yolk is easy to bear” So why did I feel so burdened! I had allowed myself to be so consumed by what the world of these hotels could offer in order to give me rest- that I completely ignored and went to my father as a last resort instead of a first response.
Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I don’t know what you focus on in life to help you relax and rest; beauty treatments, retail therapy, exercise, reading, playing sports, watching TV, holidays? Please don’t hear me wrong, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these. For me, I love to watch a good film, read a good book and go swimming or walking outdoors- they all help me to relax or release any tension from the day.
But what I’m saying is that I’ve experienced none of the above or any more categories you can imagine are everlasting. In the same breath you can easily flick the switch to feeling rest-less and anything but relaxed! So you book another treatment, arrange another shopping trip… Anything to give you that surge again or give you ‘moments’ where you can relax and rest.
I’ve found this week that when I come to Him and surrender ALL: everything I’m carrying, and take rest in Him, that my feelings no longer rule my heart and the enemy soon realises that he cannot steal my joy! I immediately sense an embrace like no other from my heavenly father.
Perhaps some of you need to take rest in Him- your heavenly father. No holiday, shopping trip, new job, pay rise or materialistic possession will fill or satisfy that empty, gaping hole you relentlessly try to fill but so desperately needs to be filled by knowing and accepting Christ. In His presence and in relationship with God, you can; rest in Him, hear His claiming voice, surrender everything you’re struggling with giving him complete control of your life and surrendering to his will not yours, all of which will I believe will release you of trying to control everything yourself!
I am such a control freak and need to know what’s coming next! This pregnancy is teaching me that I am facing the unknown regardless of how many anti natal classes Carl and I attend. I cannot plan my life from now on – nor do I want to. I may be entering into what feels like the unknown but I am thankful that I have an all knowing father who has gone before me and has my path paved out for me. As I’ve learned to rest in the embrace of my father, I have begun to feel more relaxed and rested than anything the hotels could offer. Sure the atmosphere and relaxing environment helped! Just like in church where you may find it easier to respond to the Holy Spirit or feel Gods presence because the ‘atmosphere’; the music, the lighting the experience created all feels great and can help you connect better with God in that moment. But ask yourself, when all that is stripped away, will you still come to Him and take rest? Or do you rely on those circumstances and atmospheres to enable you to enter into his presence?
I did exactly this with the hotels. I waited until the holiday before I even considered resting or relaxing, and even then, I didn’t experience true rest! That is until I surrendered all and rested; stopped what I was doing, emptied my mind of distraction, was still, talked openly and honestly with my father, thanking him for all he’s done and given me- only then did I find true rest.