I’m sick of being sick of being busy. This is what came onto the page. This is the sentence that is now ushering in the newest season of my life: learning to rest all over again.
It’s Thursday morning, and I’m a couple Sabbaths removed from the nightmare-on-IKEA-way episode where I realized that something was wrong. It was a nameless cluster of bad feelings—heat, disconnection, restlessness— all of them oddly coming to a boil while we were waiting for our couches to get picked.
It felt like an alarm system going off late, like something had broken inside my soul awhile ago and roughed up the place before the sensors finally picked it up.
And if that’s the metaphor we’re going with, then I guess I’ve been taking inventory of the damage the last couple weeks, doing triple-time figuring out what broke in, what the damage is, and what it’ll take to repair the wreckage.
Our Thursday mornings usually start an hour late with a pot of coffee and two bedheads scribbling a day plan together. The usual suspects win out: we’ll watch some Office, make love, journal a bit, go out and split nachos and wings, cuddle up and watch a Twins game. That kind of stuff. Nothing egregiously unhealthy (and I’ll pretend like you didn’t just think to mention the nachos-and-wings).
But we started this morning different. Three hours late, for one, because we’re stupid and like watching the hometown team get abused on the west coast as the clock strikes midnight. And instead of slotting in the usual suspects, we sat in silence for 20 minutes and tried to think a little deeper about it.
On cue, the usual suspects came to mind, because why not? Nachos are freaking delicious. We’re three episodes out from finishing season 8.
A couple minutes pass, and then a thought comes out of nowhere:
I want to sit in the shade, sip lemonade so cold it sweats, and read a novel.
Who said that?
And then another:
I want to make fruit salsa and cinnamon-sugar chips.
Just the day before, my lovely coworkers and I were talking a bit about real rest, and one of them (Leah) mentioned that, to her, real rest felt something like raking leaves into a pile and jumping in them for no good reason. It sounded to me like a word that has always meant a ton to me:
Plain, stupid, no-good-reason joy.
Pleasure washed in holiness and turned up to 11.
And here, 10 am finds me with coffee and delight knocking on my door, wondering if it might help me shape up the mess inside.
And then this smacked me across the head:
I don’t know rest & delight anymore because I don’t know how to be with myself anymore.
In other words, I don’t know how to be quiet long enough or live at a slow enough pace to hear myself think, to hear what this strange person finds delightful. Or, even more broadly, when he’s tired, when he needs a break, who he needs God to be for him.
I’ve been shoving nachos and wings down his throat when what he just wanted some fruit salsa.
I’ve been forcing him to watch Netflix, when he’d love nothing more than to just sit in the shade, sip lemonade so cold it sweats, and read a novel.
And since I like taking metaphors too far, I’ve got this hunch that noise is the criminal in this vandalism of my soul. I’ve got too much sound to handle and too much information to know what to do with. And the damage is that I don’t know how to be alone with myself. I don’t know how to sit across the table from myself long enough to know what I actually want, and I don’t ever know how to name my needs because I’m terribly unfamiliar with the needs beneath the exhaustion and irritation.
And the cost to repair?
Learning to be with myself long enough to know what rest & delight is to me.
So that’s the journey I’m on. I’m stumbling along these last couple days—I’m really uncomfortable with silence and much more comfortable scrolling my Twitter feed— but I’m stumbling forward. I’m carving time to do nothing but hear myself think, to hear my belly growl, to hear my teeth chattering about the upcoming monster, to see how obsessively I replay all my interactions, to laugh about stupid things I find funny.
And, slowly, I’m even hearing footsteps. It’s delight approaching my door—plain, stupid, jump-in-leaves-for-no-good-reason joy—and I think it might just shape up the mess inside.