“Rest” and “peace” are noticeably absent in almost everyone’s lives, and yet, they are vital to being at the top of our game. Susan Thomas, author of The Best Life and Girlfriend Revolution, and co-founder of Keystone Church, shares her advice for finding and maintaining time to rest.
4word: You and your husband are co-founders and leaders of Keystone Church in Keller, Texas. How do the two of you balance your time between work and family?
Susan: Balance can be hard to define when it comes to work and family. When we say we want to balance things that are important to us, I think what we all are really expressing is the desire to experience God’s best in every area of our lives! We dread the thought of succeeding at one area while sacrificing or failing at another. My husband and I love serving and leading God’s church, and we love our family. The most important step towards experiencing a healthy, happy balance is keeping first things first! Regularly asking ourselves, “Is God #1 in my heart, life, schedule, focus, time, EVERYTHING?” That can sound like a churchy answer, but the truth is that when Jesus is #1 in my heart and life, the other areas of my life really do seem to fall into place. When I get distracted and begin to drift from my connection with God, I find myself stressed out and overwhelmed.
Being intentional is another helpful way to experience balance. Rather than reacting to circumstances or impulses around us, we try to predetermine our priorities and evaluate as we go. In our house, some of the ways we make regular space for family time include meals around the table, vacation, movie nights and intentional conversations together. Furthermore, our hearts seek quality versus quantity time together. You can be a stay at home mom and miss connecting with your kids. In the midst of loads of laundry, housework, or the distraction of technology, we may be around our kids “more” but still not having quality connection with them. Whether you are working in the home or away from home, the goal is that we experience quality time when we are together as a family.
4word: Do you have difficulty finding time to rest in your life?
Susan: Yes! Taking time to rest is something many of us have to fight for. It seems the longer I live, the faster the pace gets! Whether facing work demands, juggling my four kids’ activities, engaging in family and friend events, tackling household projects, or keeping school schedules, I live in a fast-paced, schedule packed world! And I know I’m not alone. You are busy too! Rarely is there a lack of something “to do.”
My husband always says we make time for what is important to us. When it comes to rest, God says we need it. If we believe God, then we deem His command for Sabbath and rest as important. Once again, rest must be something that is intentional and pre-determined in the ebb and flow of our lives.
4word: In your book, Girlfriend Revolution, you talk about discovering God’s design for authentic friendship. What role does friendship play when it comes to rest and peace in our lives?
Susan: God designed each and every one of us for friendship. It is not good for us to be alone! Yet many of us suffer the pain of loneliness, chaos, or all out war when it comes to our relationships. Friendship plays a powerful role in our experience of peace and rest. True peace and rest will only come when your #1 friendship is with Jesus. In Romans 5:10, God says “we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son.” When we accept this gift of friendship with God and follow Him daily, our relationships with others begin to reflect the peace that God intends. People cannot give us lasting peace. God, through people, can bless our lives richly and create relationships marked by peace. Furthermore, when Christ is first in our hearts, we become people who promote peace rather than stir up strife in our friendships.
I absolutely loved learning more about God’s plans for us through writing The Best Life, based on the book of Ephesians. Like a treasure hunt, searching every word and passage reveals beautiful gems of truth that will enrich our lives and bring abundance to our souls. However, to truly glean all God has for us as we read the Bible, we must understand the BIG PICTURE. Children have a hard time understanding the big picture. As a child grows and matures, the answers become a lot clearer. This is also true when it comes to God and his plans for us. While there are some things we may not understand until heaven, God decided to make some things very clear and available for us to grasp. As we grow and mature in our relationship with Christ, we grow in understanding God’s plans. As we love and follow His design, we find ourselves experiencing the best life… the life we were designed to live, filled with the rhythm of hard work, loving relationships, and peaceful rest.
4word: What does spiritual rest and peace look like to you? How can we find this in our lives?
Susan: I find it amazing that we can be physically at rest yet experience utter turmoil on the inside. We may be sitting on a couch, yet our emotions drive us to crippling anxiety, sadness, and even despair. Thoughts may spiral out of control leaving us exhausted and stressed. True rest and peace start with the heart. Spiritual rest and peace are inside jobs. True rest and peace look like a calm within the soul that defies circumstances and struggle. One year ago, we almost lost my mom to an aortic dissection. It is a true miracle that she is alive and healthy today. In those dark hours of not knowing if she would live or die, our circumstances certainly were not promoting peace and rest. While we fought fear and had no idea what the future held, as a family we chose to trust God. In the midst of tidal waves of emotion, we prayed hard. We leaned in to God as our only hope and source of peace. His peace and presence carried us! How do we find this rest and peace? First we have to come to grips with the reality that we cannot produce either one! Only God can give us true rest and peace. When we seek Him with all of our heart, rest and peace will find us and guard our hearts and minds.
4word: What advice would you offer to the busy working woman looking to welcome some rest and peace into her life?
Susan: Run to Jesus! So often in the busy life of a working woman, we face many demands, deadlines, and responsibilities. We strive to accomplish a lot, but may find ourselves literally running all over the place! Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He is the Prince of Peace. He is the giver of rest. Love him and follow His design for life as laid out in the Bible, and I promise you will find rest and peace.
Are peace and rest something you easily find in your life? If you’re like the majority of us, the answer is no! Heed Susan’s advice and first run to Jesus. He can guide you to the ultimate resting peace you seek!
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Susan Thomas loves sharing the message of God’s promises and Good News of Jesus! Susan is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a master’s degree in counseling and wife to Dr. Brandon Thomas, pastor of Keystone Church. Together, Susan and Brandon founded Keystone Church and remain addicted to lives being changed through Christ! Her counseling focuses on marriage counseling and individual issues including anxiety, depression, sexual abuse and many other challenges that people face. She is the author of Girlfriend Revolution and The Best Life. Her appreciation of humor, authenticity and the funny side of life can be found in the words she speaks and writes. She loves God’s Church and dedicates herself to encouraging the body of Christ.
Susan and Brandon live with their four precious children in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.