I’ve been feeling kinda swamped lately, so I set aside a day to catch up on work I needed to do. I ended up spending the entire day watching YouTube videos and playing video games.
In the past I would have been disappointed in myself for failing to do what I needed to do, but I’ve since learned the importance of rest. Sometimes we need to slow down to speed up.
I’ve never actually tried this, but I’ve read that if you were to take a dog out running with you and the dog reaches a point where his body is going to overheat, it will simply stop and refuse to go any further. If the dog were to be forced to run past his limit, he could actually die.
Similarly, when my mind and emotional will have reached a breaking point, I will find myself indulging in watching entire seasons of 24 or playing entire SNES RPGs from start to finish.
And then something strange will happen. After I’ve finished bingeing on something completely unproductive, I’ll find myself feeling like I have a new perspective on the problems I’ve been meticulously micromanaging.
The problems themselves at that point usually haven’t changed at all, but the lens with which I view them does.
Also this week, I hit the gym particularly intensely. After a day of heavy squats (last set included my seasonal PR: 5 reps at 425), I tried to sneak in an explosive one-hour workout that included double kettlebell clean & presses, kettlebell snatches, weighted pull ups, and burpees without rest. (If you aren’t a gym buff, just understand that for an amateur athlete like me, this is pretty hard on my body.)
What happened next? You might have guessed it: I got sick and had to pretty much abstain from food and exercise until I started to feel better.
This is all telling me that I’m running too hard (literally and figuratively). We aren’t meant to be stressed and multitasked out all the time.
I know some high achievers that are able to get by without a lot of sleep, without a lot of days off, often amazingly continuing to perform at a high level while they are going through difficult personal-life situations. God bless ’em.
But I’m not like that. I need time to reset, refresh, procrastinate.
I have the same level of ambition as the highest achievers out there but I simply cannot physically or emotionally do the things that they do. It’s not that I haven’t tried. I’ll save the details for another post.
I guess what I’m saying is this: there is a more excellent way.
We don’t need to kill ourselves, sacrificing our health, our peace, our relationships, or our morals to change the world and perform at a high level. That’s the old model.
No — what I’m saying instead is that we rest and we trust that God has heard our prayer, has noticed that we’ve used all that we’ve got in the tank, and have decided, as an act of faith, to rest.
It’s funny that as I type this exact paragraph, it’s literally 4:11 a.m. Hebrews 4:11 starts, “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest…”
Heidi Baker (if you don’t know who that is, she’s pretty much this generation’s Mother Teresa with the added bonus of a heavy dose of miracles, signs and wonders) has a saying: “Lower and slower.” No striving.
I’m not advocating laziness. But understand that if we are called to accomplish something bigger than we could ever possibly dream of doing in our own strength, we’re going to have to rely on a much greater power than we possess.
The first step is letting go.
Letting go is an aggressive act of warfare.
High stakes poker champions play with a healthy disrespect of money — lest they let fear overtake them when they are making big calls. Top level pro athletes perform well in clutch scenarios, when one bad play is often literally the difference between winning a championship and going home with nothing.
I speculate that at the very highest levels of play, those who are successful no longer rely consciously on their moment-to-moment actions. Instead, I believe they rely on and trust that all of the preparation they have done up until that point is enough.
I believe that in life-defining moments, our will and our hearts and our history are offered up and examined by spiritual “gatekeepers,” — if you will — that determine the ultimate outcome.
He that has eyes to see, let him see.
Many teachers tell their students that the best thing to do the last night before the final is to simply go to sleep. It took me until my last year of college to practice it, and many more years until I finally understood it.
There is something to be said about the way the mind works, the science of memory and recall, and the arguments against cramming at the last minute. For many reasons, it is logically a better idea to study faithfully throughout the term, and rest the night before the test.
But there’s more.
See, it’s theoretically possible that you could study faithfully all of the material you are capable of covering, and have the test turn out in such a way that all of the questions on the test happen not to be the ones you know the answers to. Many claim this. I just don’t buy it.
Unless we are operating in an area completely out of our grace and gifting — and if we have been faithful (and sometimes even when we haven’t been) — I believe that when the test comes, — and we’re talking about more than just college exams now, — the problems that happen to be on it will more than likely be ones that we happen to know enough about to pass. We likely won’t know every answer and we likely won’t get a perfect score, but we will pass.
Want to know what I call that? Divine justice.
I’ve went a bit farther than I intended to go and opened up a whole can of worms with this discussion.
With that I bid thee adieu.