It's OK to Tell Your Soul to Rest
“Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.” Psalm 131:2 (NASB)
The morning began well enough — the first five minutes anyway. Having coffee with my friend Karen, I was fine until she asked me how I was doing. Before I could respond, I burst into tears.
I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong; nothing felt right. I had tried to hold it together all morning, but the tears flowed off and on until she took me home.
While I was out crying — I mean having coffee — with Karen, a painter was at my home transforming my bedroom. My husband was out of town, and I’d planned this as a surprise for him. But the surprise was on me.
I arrived home to find the painter hadn’t put back the curtain rods. Not only that, he had removed all of the nails in the walls and painted over the holes, so I had no idea where the pictures went! The furniture sat in the middle of the room. It was a wreck, and so was I. I burst into a Niagara Falls of tears … again.
Times like these are when I most feel the disabling effect of being blind. Alone, I couldn't hang the rod. I couldn't move the furniture. I couldn't hammer the nails back into the exact places where the pictures hung. I sat on the bedroom floor between a bedpost and a mirror and leaned against a dresser. I was spent.
It wasn't the condition of my bedroom that was the problem; it was the condition of my life.
I was weary. Soul weary. Can you relate?
The whole experience taught me that speaking rest to my soul was something I desperately needed and should be part of my daily inner conversation.
So much of our self-talk is directed at revving ourselves up. "Come on, Jennifer! One more event, one more activity, one more goal, one more phone call, one more, one more, one more!" All this revving up often leads to a petering out until all that's left in us cries, "No more. No more. No more!"
And the result? Burnout.
Burnout is a state of exhaustion — physically, emotionally or mentally — due to emotional demands that never seem to end. We all find ourselves in these draining situations. For some of us, it's our jobs. For others, it's family responsibilities. For you, it might be both — and more.
If we aren't in the habit of telling ourselves to rest, we burn out, wear out and even freak out (as I did).
Rest isn't only for our tired bodies. It’s also for our weary souls. Our wills, our minds and our emotions get burned out if they never experience rest. Sometimes the silent signals of exhaustion are so deep within our souls that it’s more difficult to recognize than when our bodies cry for physical rest. Our minds must receive rest. Our wills must experience rest. Our emotions must engage in rest.
As the psalmist David recounts in today’s key verse, "Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me" (Psalm 131:2).
We need to soothe our souls to rest like a child rests against her mother. My friend, that kind of quiet and composed rest does not come easily for adults.
So how do we get there?
David reveals the answer to us just one verse before: “O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me” (Psalm 131:1, NASB). He goes on to encourage the reader, “Hope in the LORD” (Psalm 131:3a).
Simply put: Relinquish control of things beyond our ability and trust God who is always able. We must rest from striving so our minds can quiet the noise of our thoughts and our emotions can detangle our knotted feelings.
Meanwhile, I’m so grateful for good friends! Thankfully, my friend Christin came over and helped me put back the furniture and hang the pictures. And, when Phil came home he was happily surprised!
I wish this kind of soul rest automatically happened when we put on our PJs. But soul rest only happens when we quiet our souls, surrender our wills to God our Father and hope in Him.
Lord, help me pay attention to what I say to my soul. I want to tell my soul to be still and rest, to cease striving, to hope in You. Show me if I am heading toward burnout and give me wisdom to run to You instead. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (ESV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Have you ever had an emotional day like Jennifer described? If so, what was the reason? Could soul weariness have been a contributor?
Choose one way today to give your soul — your mind, your will and your emotions — a break, and then pay attention to the difference it makes for you.