I recently read a research article that detailed some of the effects of stress - namely from multitasking - on the body and brain. I learned that what I once called “an art,” is actually a debilitating practice. So serious in fact, that you can actually lose as many as 10 IQ points if you are a chronic multi-tasker. I have 5 children, I mean, I am always knee-deep in chaos and busyness, so this is absolutely frightening to me.
I’ve noticed this last year or so that I am struggling more than ever with the balance of my life. While I have always been a (mostly) organized person, I now find myself scattered, forgetful, unreasonable, and having difficulty focusing. I’ve actually felt myself dumbing down due to the lack of space I have to think critically. Sure, I need a good night’s sleep, but more than that, I need rest. I need the kind of rest that swallows me whole. The kind of silence that creates a lasting space within me, even when I have to jump back into the work.
I was reading one day and came across this scripture that said: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to life freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30
I have never lived lightly. I carry and pack on and rebalance and grab more until the weight of all of the responsibilities and details of life are shoving me to the ground. It’s only there, in the dust, that I tend to recognize my very real need to let God redistribute the responsibilities I carry, to relieve the anxiety that pollutes the sacred spaces of my heart, and to just be still and to know.
According to this verse, a life of quiet does not mean that the belabored voices of my children will hush, but that amidst their tarrying, the quiet that is conjured deep within, will see me through. I am burned out because I can’t recognize my limitations and need for pause without an outside source burning it into my heart. God promises that the way he will lead me will not be heavy or ill-suited, and that these rhythms he will guide me through, are about relearning the balance of yes and no, of persevering and retreating, of doing the hard work of contemplation and mindfulness with every step along the way. It’s a sacred regard for the redeemed self. A way to create space for the love and the passion that truly breathe life into me and keep me from burning out.
The magic that happens in the quiet - in the transformative ability to unsee the formula, to break down the box, to forget about the mess - is the recognition that my only responsibility is the decision to stay close and follow suit. In those moments, His love will carry me to freedom.