Finding Freedom in Rest
Updated: Nov 7, 2022
I’ve been off work for 7 days. I have logged into my email a few times, checked and returned messages, yeah. But I’ve been reading mostly. Resting. Taking care of myself and my home. I gave myself permission to be free.
I think I have a moment of freedom every time I gain a new understanding of myself. The most memorable for me was when I was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy in college. If you’ve never heard of Bell’s Palsy, let me be the first to introduce you. Bell’s Palsy is a rare neurological condition, most commonly brought on by stress or “overuse of the brain”, that causes half the face to droop. Half the nerves in your face just stop working. They give up and quit from EXHAUSTION. It can take several weeks to several months to fully recover.
You’re probably wondering “why on Earth would that be a moment of freedom?” Until that point, I didn’t know you could over-stress your body. I had been operating at a pace that was until that point, unstoppable. I was driven by my need to succeed in everything, get an awesome job I’d love, and afford the life I wanted to live. I was on a roll, people. Except, I was obviously overdoing it. My brain couldn’t hold it all together anymore, and it just stopped.
Again, why is this freeing? Because, I learned DEEPLY that I could feel “just fine”, and still be NOT okay. I learned that I had to slow down and pace myself. I had to up my game on managing stress, even the good stress like learning about things I enjoyed and was interested in. This was the moment of freedom.
I had permission to rest.
I had to rest.
I had rest.
This was the start of me changing my thinking around worth and value. I was convinced that my worth was determined by the things I did or could do or would do. That’s the message I got from my family, my friends, and my church. That’s the message I got at school, and at home, and everywhere in between.
You got all A’s, great job! Here’s $20. You got a C? You must not be trying hard enough.
They’ll know you are Christians by your actions. If you’re not doing something, you’re doing nothing.
It was like I had been flying down the highway in a convertible doing 90, and I got a flat tire. I felt that loss of momentum and it was terrifying. I wondered what would change in my life when I stopped trying to DO everything.
And you know what changed? Not that much, actually.
My friends? Still around. More so actually, because I had a need and time to hang out.
My family? There. Willing to binge watch tv with me, or go shopping just for fun. Willing to help me rearrange my room for a “fresh” new feeling or start a new art project for no reason except to do it.
My school? I still read and did my assignments. I went to class feeling very self-conscious, but most adults are normal and didn’t say anything or stare. Most didn’t even notice.
I took some time off, and rested. And it was so freeing.
Over the years, I’ve had other scares with my body doing weird things in response to stress. But nothing was as scary and impactful as that first one.
I have tried to connect more with my body’s signals. That odd tingling in your lips when you bite your tongue, or the twitching of your eye. The tension in your shoulders when you’ve spent too much time on the keyboard at your desk. Noticing jaw tension before it turns into a migraine.
I have learned new ways to Stop, Look, and Listen to my body’s needs. But I still need a physical reminder most of the time. I am super good at responding to needs, and less good at making that activity a habit.
You might have your own or different ways of knowing. That's okay. My encouragement for you today is that you hone in on them. Take time to listen to your body, and respond to it's needs. Whatever that looks like. I promise you, you will feel a moment of freedom when you allow yourself just to rest.