By Jessa Chadwick, Faith Editor
It is too easy to become worn out. Between school, work, friends, extracurricular activities and church, all of which expect full participation and excellence, young adults quickly become exhausted.
“Rest clears you mentally,” assistant professor of nursing and MSN RN Jennifer Sharma said. “It helps increase your mental capacity. It allows your body’s systems to come back to a state of balance, a state of norm. When you think of blood pressure and heart rate, those things all come to their baseline when our bodies are in a state of rest. The biggest illustration is the mental picture of how it calms our brains and our thoughts and allows a time for refreshment and a time for regeneration during that time of rest.”
Assistant vice president for spiritual life and dean of the chapel M. Dale Griffin explained the spiritual principle of rest.
“In God’s economy for creation there is rest,” Griffin said. “He dreamed up this whole idea of rest. We didn’t. He created time but we can keep track of it, we can manage it. Like money, we have to be a steward of our time. In that creation of time, He emphasized rest. The earth is spinning in such a way that we have a night and we have a day.”
However, in Christian circles hard work, not rest is greatly encouraged and preached on. Involvement in church activities is important but not to the point of exhaustion for the member.
“We like to preach this, ‘be awake, be aware of your time,’” Griffin said. “In Proverbs, it talks about folding of the hands leads to poverty. On the other hand, Psalm 46:10 says to, ‘be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth.’ We don’t have a full picture of that verse if we stop halfway through. If we quote Psalm 46:10a and we don’t quote Psalm 46:10b, then we don’t understand what He’s talking about. We’re proof-texting even within the verse.
“We still can’t cause God to be glorified in all the earth,” Griffin said. “He’s God. He will be glorified in all the earth. No one’s going to stop that. We can be still and know that He is God. What I’m suggesting is that Scripture teaches that you can rest even when you’re working because it’s not all on your shoulders. So, yes, we’re to steward our time but we’re to work as believers from a position of rest.”
So, how can young adults be aware of this need for rest? How can they be sure to stop and rest in God?
“When I feel uneasy and I’m anxious and uptight, then that’s a red flag for me,” Griffin said. “That’s a marker that I’m not trusting the Lord, I’m actually trusting myself. What I have to do is stop. Philippians 4:4-7, ‘Be anxious for nothing but in everything with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let the peace of God which surpasses understanding will keep your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.’ Again, it’s this picture of rest. He’s keeping, He’s holding you, He’s sustaining you. Brennan Manning suggests to inhale the name of the father by saying ‘Abba’ and then exhale by saying ‘I belong to you.’”
When God’s people feel anxious, they should stop and rest. It is when they rest that they can find strength in God. Isaiah 40:31 says, “those who wait for the Lord will renew their strength.”
“There’s a principle of rest that’s in the Bible,” Griffin said. “And it’s written into general revelation; your doctors tell you, you need seven to eight hours of sleep every night. You need to go to bed at the same time, get up at the same time because you’re going to perform better when you sleep.
Specific revelation is where God commands us to rest every week. So not only do we sleep every night but we are to rest every week. And then there are to be little seasons of rest every year where we focus on Him. That’s where we get our Judeo-Christian holidays from. That’s why in the western world we have those.”
Another important aspect of rest is physical rest.
“Rest is when we’re not doing,” said Sharma. “When we’re stilling ourselves long enough to not be busy doing studying, visiting, out and about doing things, when we have a moment to still ourselves, re-center and refresh ourselves.”
While it may be hard to find or make time to rest, lack of rest has consequences. When a young adult finds themselves exhausted, stressed, defensive or burnt out, it is a sign that they need to stop and spend time refocusing.
“With lack of rest there’s usually a lack of focus,” Sharma said. “Anxiety goes up. Depression goes up. The ability to handle normal situations goes to it’s all-time craziness. Normal things that happen when you haven’t had rest would cause you to react very out of the norm to those, very over the top to those. First thing that comes to mind is finals week, when we should be resting and studying but a lot of times we do everything but rest and we’re studying and we’re cramming and everything. And then our performance on the test is going to be really out of sync because we haven’t had a chance to come back to a base, back to a norm and regenerate and allow our brains time to think normally instead of in a stressed, anxiety-filled manner.”
It is important to realize how rest plays a role in day-to-day life but finding time to rest may cause more stress. Sharma encourages young adults to find the time anyway.
“Sometimes we have to put rest on our schedule,” Sharma said.
“Making time for rest, when we’re not committed to doing anything but just letting our bodies have a time to bounce back. Especially in college when there are so many activities and so many things that we’re committed to. Allow yourself even 15 minutes a day to refresh, renew, regenerate. It does amazing things for your health and it does amazing things for your mental health and clarity, and the ability to make the other commitments that you have.”