Why We Must Rest to Work

Guest article by Christy Baca

“In case of emergency, oxygen masks will drop down in front of you. Please pull the mask down toward your face and place the mask over your mouth and nose. If you are traveling with a child, please attend to yourself first, then the child. Breathe normally, adjust the headband for your comfort.”  

If you have ever flown, you have heard this reminder before the plane takes off. For some time, I always wondered why they instructed passengers flying with children to attend to themselves before assisting their child. Until one day I was the girl who found myself feeling like I couldn’t help myself, let alone my husband or children.

Wife, PTA mom, business partner and mentor. In addition to my administrative responsibilities helping my husband run his architecture studio, I was attending chamber events, downtown association events, and volunteering wherever I was as an investment to our town of small business owners. All while parenting two girls, grocery shopping, keeping the budget, juggling PTA meetings, BSF, small group, marriage and friendship. I hit a wall. 

I left our house one Tuesday night after having a meltdown and feeling misunderstood by my husband. I didn’t need to drive far to find a place of solitude. I arrived at a Hampton Inn and got myself a room with one bed and no one I had to share it with. No one I had to share my brain with. No one I had to help get ready for bed. No dishes to wash. No laundry to do. No email to answer. No decisions to be made except to turn the lights off and sleep. I had rarely stepped away from our family or my responsibilities because I let the voice of guilt drive my decisions. I would shame myself in my mind for ever thinking I needed to have time alone or step away from my family. My vocabulary at this season of my life consisted of, “yes” and “I’m sorry.” Not enough “no.”  

What have I learned from the day that I drove 30 miles to check into a hotel for uninterrupted sleep? The times I would attempt to be fully present and productive for tasks ahead of me but hadn’t dedicated the time to care for myself, I was empty and not available to give what was needed to accomplish even one task. This emptiness led to the meltdown and feeling misunderstood. Have you ever been in this place?  So tired or so empty that you have nothing left to give even the smallest task?    

I came back to my family and responsibilities without feeling overwhelmed or misunderstood. Since that time, I have learned that I am an Enneagram type 6 and lean toward the type 2 when I am feeling overwhelmed. Simply put, I spend a lot of time doing things for other people and begin to feel unappreciated and overwhelmed if I don’t take a step back and recharge through rest. 

But more importantly, I have learned that the Lord modeled REST from the beginning of time. We read in Genesis 2:1-3, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished all his work that he had done, and he RESTED on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God RESTED from all his work that he had done in creation.” Not only did God REST after His work was done, he blessed the seventh day and made it holy, for rest. Rest for you and rest for me.  

Rest is an intentional act of not working. It can seem counterproductive to rest in order to be able to accomplish more work. However, when we look at the rhythm of work and rest that God modeled for us, we can see clearly the benefits of resting to work. 

Guilt was my reason for not seeing the need I had for rest. Guilt, defined by Merriam Webster, is “feelings of deserving blame especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy.” Did you see the key word in the definition? Imagined. When I look at the amount of time I have allowed guilt to take residence in my head, most of the time it was an offense I conjured up in my head because of unrealistic or imagined inadequacy. In my life guilt has had too much stock in causing me to feel like I don’t need self-care or rest. Feelings lie. God’s word speaks power and truth.   

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.  

Hebrews 4:9-11

Think about how it would feel if your husband or family or friends never took time to just be with you? Imagine how God must feel when we don’t take time to rest and remember who he is and what all he has done for us? 

The truth is that God is bigger than you and bigger than the guilt you may feel for taking care of yourself. Read that again. God is bigger than the guilt you feel for taking care of yourself. Remember, feelings lie.  God’s word speaks power and truth. God is a God of REST.  

The Lord knew when He created you the work He had prepared for you. In Exodus 31:15-17, we see again where God modeled the rhythm of rest and care so when we work for Him, we are giving our best to bring glory to Him through our work. Work brings a need for rest. Rest allows for more work. The two go hand in hand.  

Recently I watched the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” with my oldest daughter. This quote caught my attention and reminded me of the chaos that can take place when we don’t keep our work and rest in balance. “Let me know when your personal life goes up in smoke, that’s when you know you are ready for a promotion.” Not to say that moving up or forward in a career is bad or should be something anyone feels guilty for; however, not at the expense of family or a relationship with the Lord. 

Balance requires a discipline and awareness of what we need and what our limits are. When our balance is off, our lives are off, and we can begin to forget the purpose of our work. To bring glory to the Lord through our work, you have to decide what to keep in balance and what to let go. I have chosen to let go of guilt to make more room for rest, which will make more room to work for the Lord.