rest from their labor

My family is a font of patience. Depending on our schedules, I have a phone chat with at least one family member every week, and for the past few months my conversational contributions have been a rather consistent variation on the same theme: I am tired.

My family, blessed with sweetness as they are, has listened as I’ve worked my way through this particular conundrum. This year has been a busy one, to be certain – balancing multiple jobs and a move that is nearly six months in and still not quite finished – and so my exhaustion has not been totally without a catalyst, but as the months have rolled on and my routine has more or less leveled-out, my weariness has continued to outstrip my activity.

“Things are good. I mean, I’m busy, but it’s not a bad busy. I am enjoying what I’m doing,” I’d sigh.

“I’m just wiped.”

“I’m in a rut, I think.”

“I’m fraying at the edges a bit here.”

“I need to take a break.”


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Having experienced both depression and chronic sleep-deprivation, I am familiar with different types of bone-weary exhaustion. This here was a whole ‘nother beast entirely.

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It clicked for me when I finally looked at my calendar – actually sat down and counted back through all of the months this year – trying to figure out when I’d last taken time off that wasn’t related either to a job or to the move.

The answer? December 31st.


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“This is so NOT me,” I protested (to my dearly sweet family), “I’m the one with the deep philosophical conviction against the American worker’s propensity to be overworked and under-rested, and I am not the person who’s going to go the whole year without a single vacation.” Yet clearly I am, because here we are.

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text from Kayla (8/24/15, 6:22pm):

You seemed a bit down/worn when I saw you and I just wanted you to know that I love you. Is there anything I can be praying about?

Honestly, I am just desperately seeking sabbath.

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I was talking with Amanda recently about sleep habits, which I am actually fairly diligent about now after years of sleep’s forced absence taught me how very, very poorly I function without it.

“It’s reeeaaally easy for the body to get out of the good-sleep habit… Sometimes one good night’s sleep is enough to kick things back into gear.”


Fredericksburg was that good night’s sleep, proverbially-speaking.

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We took a drive out to Fredericksburg because we knew that we needed it – we needed the break. We needed time together not spent on the ongoing processing of unpacking. She needed to do something outside the four walls of our house. I needed to get away from the city, to feel the tension slip from my shoulders as the noise faded away, and to breathe deep from an unbroken skyline.

I haven’t figured out yet if this ongoing aversion to urban life is unwavering, or merely a symptom of the discontent for where I’ve put my energy this year.


Fredericksburg was not necessarily restful, but it did help me understand how truly tired I have been.


– – –

Dad and I talked about rest, post-My ‘What Have I Done To Myself?’ epiphany. “‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’ Why do you think God commanded it? I think it’s – at least in part – because He knows that we won’t take it. That our tendency will be toward constant activity, constant movement, constant distraction.”

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– – –

As a kid Labor Day marked the last day of summer, even if it was true that the first hints of crisp autumn air had rolled in weeks before. It was the end of summer break before school began and I went to sleep each Labor Day evening with my backpack ready and my clothes laid out, just giddy with excitement for the upcoming classes (because I am and always have been a total nerd). Even when homeschooling we stuck to this schedule, which made Labor Day a family holiday of sorts. A farewell to the laissez-faire summer schedule and a welcome to, if we’re being totally honest, the only-slightly-less-laissez-faire home academic schedule. Even as we got older, the day maintained a semi-sacred status: a holiday with no particular obligation except to rest.

Since moving to Texas, a three-day weekend of near-total solitude has become my yearly boon and breather.
I need it every year. I need it this year more than ever.

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So shall thy rest strengthen thy labor; and so shall thy labor sweeten thy rest.
Francis Quarles

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[post title taken from Revelation 14:13]