August in the Northwest is a time when we can choose rest. Several times over the past few years I have heard a comment like this from someone who knows me well: "Shawn, I've noticed that you rest well when you are off work. How did you learn to do that?" That is quite a question for me, a guy who comes from generations of workaholics. I can only say that because I am a recovering workaholic myself, and my dad has confirmed that as far back as he knows our family has seen work as primary.
Clayton Christensen, a Harvard professor and business owner, in his book How Will You Measure Your Life, says this with regards to making work our primary focus: "The danger for high-achieving people is that they'll unconsciously allocate their resources to activities that yield the most immediate, tangible accomplishments. This is often their careers, as this domain of their life provides the most concrete evidence that they are moving forward." No wonder we do this! Who doesn't want proof that we are moving forward?
Back to the question from my friend: how did I learn to rest? It was a great question. How does a man whose tendency is to work all the time (not just at a job but around the house, on projects, etc.) make time to rest? Well, it started slow for me. I began by taking an hour here and an hour there to schedule something that I wanted to do. Yes, I scheduled it, and I still do. I eventually moved to 4-hour increments of a day once a week. Four hours of no work at all. At this point a couple of little kids came on the scene. You would think that rest went out the door at that point, but I stayed with it. In fact, as our kids got older I began scheduling a day off for our family, an actual Sabbath day. It isn't always Sunday, it is the day of the weekend when we could most likely take a full 24 hours to rest. Practically, it started in the evening of one day and ended the evening of the next.
I was enjoying each of these experiences of rest so much that I decided to take it a step further and plan a weekend once a year to get away and rest. That turned into two, then three, and most years I now take a quarterly two nights away. It's not easy, but rest is vital if I am going to participate in life to the fullest that Jesus invites us into.
So how did I learn to rest? I just did it. It is one of the best decisions I ever made (and am still making). Rest is a gift from the Lord. One that we can all receive.