For almost the entirety of the month of March I was in bed. This is what happens when you pick up a virus at the beginning of a month, keep up with your regular schedule for a couple of weeks even though you feel a little “off,” and ultimately find yourself at the end of the month too fatigued to even think about taking a shower. You find yourself unclean, in bed, and forced to rest. This is what happens.
This is a pattern now, even though I hate to admit it. With far too much frequency, I run myself ragged until I get really, really sick and have to spend a week or more in bed resting.
Several years ago, I came back from a week-long mission-camp with the youth group fearful that I had strep throat like so many of the students had gotten while we were serving in Philadelphia. When I went to the doctors to get things checked, he sent me on my way with strict instructions to rest and a lidocaine throat gargle to use if my throat bothered me too much. Because I didn’t have strep throat, I had a random virus that just had to run its course. It took me 3 weeks and a lot of sleep to feel like myself again.
This time, the same thing happened again. And it took me a month to feel like myself again.
You would think I would know by now. You would think that I would be able to pick up on the triggers, to sense when I’m running too hard and staying too busy. You would think I would listen to the people who love me and know me – my parents, my best friends, my girls – and slow down when they tell me that I don’t seem like myself and they’re getting worried. You would think I would stop before I get really, really sick.
I have a hard time stopping, slowing down, and resting. I spend a lot of time meeting this person for coffee and that person for lunch and this person dinner and that person for frozen yogurt after dinner. And I do this because these coffee and lunch and dinner and frozen yogurt dates usually revive my soul a little bit and help me to see God moving in the world a little more clearly. And I do these things because I like my people, and I don’t want to miss anything.
But, maybe I should work on saying no to occasional coffee or frozen yogurt, so that it doesn’t all catch up to me and I’m forced to miss a whole month’s worth of things because I have to sleep off a random virus.
This makes me think that maybe this is why Genesis is so clear that God rested after He created everything. Because rest has an important place in God’s story from the very beginning, and we need to know that it’s important. And we need to know that if we’re modeled in the image of God, then we need to give ourselves permission to find time to stop moving and creating and just be still.
And if we don’t, if we get really stubborn about it, my experience is that God might just strike you down with a plague.
I’m happy to report that April finds me well-rested, without plague, and feeling like myself again. Thank goodness! Because this week also finds me in West Michigan, catching up with my college buddies and attending the Festival of Faith and Writing in good ol’ Grand Rapids. It will be the best kind of busy for the next week. I will be with people more than I’m alone, I’ll be awake more than I’m asleep, and I’ll be in a perpetual bounce of one thing to the next. And truly, I wouldn’t want this week to be any different.
However, I promise to rest when I get home next week. Because it’s important.