What is Rest to you?

Rest /rest/ - cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. 

When you think of this word, what comes to you mind? Hanging out on a beach, like the one below? Sitting on your couch, watching a movie or reading a book? Playing a game with your best friends? Drinking good coffee or tea? What is it for you that encompasses the word rest?

For me, it's evolved over the last couple of years. At first it was just getting away from the stressful places I lived in, but going to a beach or being in an urban western city didn't always do it for me. I found that I couldn't even relax there. I couldn't "turn myself off". My mind is always thinking about all the things I need to accomplish, all the people who are relying on me, all the emails I need to reply to, my struggles, and so on. 

Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm f/1.4  |  f/3.5, 1/1000 sec, ISO-400  |  Koh Tao, Thailand

Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm f/1.4  |  f/3.5, 1/1000 sec, ISO-400  |  Koh Tao, Thailand

I've tried other things--like playing my guitar, reading, sleeping a full eight hours every day, working out, crocheting, baking, and so on. These aren't necessarily the answers. They're all fun to do, don't get me wrong! I'd love to go to a beach every day if I could, just to be by the water! :) But, in my discovery of what the word "rest" means to me, it's gone deeper than just these things I've mentioned.

For me, rest involves stepping back and figuring out where my heart is. What I mean by that is that every day each one of us is bombarded by lies, hurts, frustrations, and so on. Those build up and over time it can leave you raw and hopeless (and maybe a multitude of other feelings) if you don't deal with them. If I'm honest, it's really easy for me to become hopeless, despite my propensity to be positive and hopeful. 

I have to step back and be introspective. I have to think about what I have been dealing with and talk with God about it. Sometimes it's a simple confession of where I'm at and asking God to help me. In other cases, it goes even deeper and I have to repent for unforgiveness, bitterness, or whatever it is that comes up.

You're probably thinking at this point (if you're still reading) how is this restful?! Isn't this more work?? Why yes, it is more work! But I can tell you that God is the one who brings rest to the tired and weary! 

There is something amazing being out in beautiful creation, doing fun things that you enjoy or even being with people you love. Those things can help facilitate a place for rest...but I'd argue that it's God who truly brings the rest that we all desire when we get to those rough places where we need a break.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

-Ashley