The hit television comedy Parks and Recreation started the phenomenon of “treat yo’ self,” a day in which people don’t deny themselves any pleasure or purchase no matter how expensive.
While the characters of this show limit this practice to one day a year, many people today have adopted “treat yo’ self” as a lifestyle. Long work week? Treat yo’ self. Experiencing spiritual burnout? Treat yo’ self. This catchphrase is rebranding rest to mean a shopping spree or expensive dinner.
As a seminary student, fiancé, intern, daughter, bridesmaid, and human being, I struggle to prioritize rest. Our minds, hearts, and bodies cannot sustain this hectic pace. Whether you find yourself crying in the Kroger parking lot, falling asleep during a work presentation, or eating pans of brownies to take the edge off, our lack of rest makes itself felt.
As human beings created in the image of God, we need rest. Our Father cares about rest. One of the many reasons God sent the Israelites into exile is because they did not keep the Sabbath (Lev. 25:2-4; 26:33-35).
So what should we do for rest? Should we “treat yo’ self?”
Leisure is the pursuit of enjoyable activities. Buying a new purse, upgrading your hotel room, or watching all three Lord of the Rings movies in a row all constitute leisure. Leisure is good for you. God created laughter and art. He loves it when his kids get to sleep on nice beds or feel confident in a new outfit. Jesus spoke frequently about fasts, but he also preached on feasts! Both disciplines, one of denial and one of enjoyment and pleasure, are critical to the Christian lifestyle.
Leisure is restful but it is not the only type of rest. When we don’t seek out other types of rest, we starve ourselves of necessary resources. Netflix provides wonderful entertainment, but watching for six hours instead of going to bed hurts us rather than helps us.
True rest means engaging our inner selves and determining what we need. After a long week I may need to sleep in, or I might need to get up early and go to the gym for some stress relief. Social media can fill my time, but grabbing lunch with a close friend fills my soul. We need to honestly assess what we need and make wise choices to fulfill those needs. Human beings need leisure, but that is not all we need.
Rest should not be reactive. We shouldn’t wait until we burst into tears at the grocery store to prioritize down time. God commanded the Israelites to build rest into their schedule. They were to cease activity on the sabbath each week, as well as take every seventh year off in order to let the fields rest.
Here are some helpful hints about rest:
- Rest often. Like the Israelites, we need daily, weekly, and yearly rest. Don’t just wait until your big summer vacation to give your body a break. Build more time between your appointments. Take breathing breaks.
- Rest well. Evaluate what your heart, mind, and body needs. Have you surrounded yourself with people all week? Maybe you need some introvert time. Focused on yourself? Try volunteering on a Saturday. Feeling sick? Watch a wholesome movie, eat soup, and go to bed early.
- Rest in the Lord. I struggle to rest because I often find my value in my productivity. If I am not contributing something to the world, I wonder about my purpose. I don’t trust that a project will get finished without me completing extra hours or working on the weekends. But God is with us! Father, Son, and Spirit are working in our lives. Be still and know that he is God and he will work for his people!
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:20–21)
About The Author
Allie Mock grew up in Sugar Land, Texas. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Texas A&M University and will graduate with a Masters in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary in December 2018. Allie enjoys exploring the great outdoors, being silly, and teaching the Bible. She currently serves as an intern for HeartStrong Faith.