My Life Why You Have to Quit #TeamNoSleep Today by Rachel Penate Have you ever sat down to read Scripture and stumbled across the perfect verse that encapsulated everything you needed to hear? For me recently, it was the following: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you the superhero strength needed to ace all of your work and be an overall stellar human being.” -Matthew 11:28 Hahahaha. via GIPHY Don’t quote me on that. Unless you cite, “from the gospel of Rachel’s will.” But really, that would be nice huh? It would be nice if God gave us all we wanted like a magical genie with three wishes… or a thousand. It would be nice if our anxieties and fears and tiredness were quashed with one simple wave of God’s hand and absolutely no work on our part. But, then we’d be missing the point of it all, huh? We’d be equating God as a magical creature in our lives rather than a wise protector. via GIPHY God is not a unicorn; He is not a genie. God is SO much more than that. If you open up Scripture, you’ll see that the verse from Matthew 11:28 actually reads as follows: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” How many of us, when we are busy, unreasonably stress over obtaining good grades and accolades and perfection? How many of us neglect sleep and self-care and really just being healthy human beings because the weight of “doing” overwhelms the reality of “being”? If that is you – LISTEN CLOSELY – God is speaking to you in those 16 simple words from Scripture: He wants you to rest. Rest in Him, in His truth, His strength, and His promises. Okay, if I’ve lost you here and you’re still staring at that gif of the magical unicorn (you’re welcome), here is a quick exercise for you to break-down what it is that might be causing you stress today and what you can do – through the grace of God – to rest in His strength. Reflect In a journal or on a simple piece of paper, answer the following questions: 1. On a scale from 1 – 10, how physically tired are you? If you answer between a 5-10, when is the last time you’ve gone to bed before 10 pm? 2. On a scale from 1 – 10, how mentally tired are you? If you answer between a 5-10, when is the last time you’ve sat in silence for more than 5 minutes? 3. On a scale from 1 – 10, how mentally tired are you? If you answer between a 5-10, when is the last time you’ve had a conversation with God for more than 5 minutes? 4. What would you say are the biggest stressors in your life? Take about 20 minutes on this one and think about every aspect of your day: Do you feel well-rested by the end of the day? If not, what is it about your day that causes you to feel tired or unfulfilled? Is it your schoolwork? Relationships with your friends or family? The pressure of sports or music commitments? Upcoming tests or college preparation? Your own expectations of yourself? What else? Respond After you’ve taken a sufficient amount of time nailing down what the underlying causes of your stress are, take some time to reflect on the following truth. Like really, don’t just skim this stuff, but think and pray deeply on it until you believe it/ can commit to it. Know and believe you are not alone. via GIPHY The Devil would very much like us to think we are isolated and alone in our struggle. But, this is absolutely not true. If you ever take the time to read (or even skim) through the life of Christ, you’ll see He was under constant scrutiny and pressure to “perform” during His years of ministry. But, He didn’t stand on a platform – alone – and show He was “all that.” (Which He very much could’ve.) What did He do, instead? He banded together with 12 others, and they spread the Gospel together, often stopping to rest along the way. Find a confidant you can discuss your stresses with regularly and can hold you accountable if you ever start to doubt any of these realities. Know and believe you have value regardless of what you do or accomplish. via GIPHY This is so, so, so essential. God has given us the ability to accomplish great things through Him, but if we were to do nothing more in our lives than rest and pray (or rather really anything at all), we would have no less dignity, and God wouldn’t love us any less. God gives us gifts according to our abilities, and we should respond accordingly, but He loved St. Teresa of Calcutta, who was constantly in the public square caring for the people in Calcutta, no less than He loved St. Therese of Lisieux, who never left her convent once she professed her vows. No matter what you “do,” God’s measure of love for you doesn’t change. Take time to self-reflect, daily. via GIPHY The only way to go forward and make concrete changes in your life that will actually impact your life is to reflect on what is and isn’t working. But, this one requires trading in the distractions (your phone, computer, music, friends, family) for the quiet of self-reflection and God’s voice for at least five minutes each day. If this is something that you see as valuable for your life, think right now of a time in your day that you can commit to at least five minutes of quiet self-reflection and make a promise to yourself to stick to it. Take care of yourself. via GIPHY Rest is more than just sitting and not doing anything. Here are some suggestions as to how to refresh your body, mind, and soul: Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. If needed, set a timer on your phone that reminds you to start getting ready for bed. Take a few hours every weekend to do something restful that you love. Perhaps a playing a pickup game of basketball, going on a coffee date with a friend, taking time to read a good book, or a taking a trip to the theatre for a good movie. Take a break from technology, especially social media to connect more in person with the people in your life. This could be for an hour or a day or a week. Trust me. You will gain more than you miss from this time away from online networks. Give yourself the grace to mess up and start over. via GIPHY No one is going to fault you for being human. And, if they do, obviously they have a very unrealistic understanding of what it means to be human. If you’re having one of those days, gently remind yourself that it’s okay and ask God for the grace to turn around your day and/or have a better day tomorrow. AND THEN, have faith that God is going to come through and offer you that grace. (This one is really important.) If you are doing all of these things and still struggling, DO NOT BE AFRAID to seek professional help. There is absolutely no shame in seeking professional help. The statistics are pretty staggering on the amount of people who suffer from anxiety. Remember, the first point of this last section? You are not alone! This may be the step you need to take to gain the tools needed to find freedom from the pressures and anxieties of your daily experience. via GIPHY I pray this blog is an encouragement for you today if you are struggling with feeling the pressure to be all and do all. But, if anything, may it serve as a reminder that no matter what, you are loved by an incredible God who cares more about who you are than what you accomplish and would never, ever – even for the world – change that reality. You got this, friends! I’m praying for you!