“I’ll rest when I’m dead,” said my friend. He’s the type of person that possesses a herculean level of determination. You probably know the type. On its face, his statement seemed admirable, a testament to his will and fortitude.
It’s also true. Morbid. But true. You will, in fact, rest when you’re dead. However, according to research, if you don’t get adequate rest then that eternal rest might come sooner than expected.
Earlier this year the Huffington Post released an interesting article identifying several dangers of sleep deprivation, namely an increased risk of stroke, obesity, diabetes, memory loss and cancer.
A survey conducted by the Better Sleep Council revealed that 6 in 10 “sleep-starved Americans crave sleep more than sex.” That’s saying a lot, considering the oversexed culture we live in.
Given the facts, some of us need to be held down and made to rest.
Rest is about being a better person
We live in a culture of sensory overload, so it’s no wonder we have a tough time with rest. Someone is reading this article while listening to music, texting a friend and playing Candy Crush. Someone has a YouTube video playing in another window. Someone else has a dozen other tabs on standby, vying for their attention.
Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is to do nothing at all. Doing nothing can change everything. Being still and inactive can do wonders for your psyche. Studies have shown that meditation—which I think means sitting in a room with God and seeing who’ll speak first—can make you an all-around better person.
But how many Millennials do you know who meditate? It seems that the people who could benefit most from silence and solitude are also the least likely to practice it.
We are the generation that starts crawling out of its skin when asked to sit still and remain silent, but once you get a taste of meditation I’m certain you’ll be back for more. It’ll leave you feeling relaxed and revived, as if walking back to your hotel room after a day at the beach. But for those of you who fear silence and dread the idea of being alone or disconnecting from social media, try baby steps.
Psychologist and author Dr. Larry Rosen encourages people to take a few minutes each day to step away from electronics and social media and step into nature. It’s the nicotine patch of rest, but these small steps are better than nothing. Try it. Right now, if you’d like. Step away from the computer screen and step outside. This will all still be here when you get back.
Rest is about being happier
Sadly, some of us will stay busy for the rest of our lives because we worship it. We’ve wrapped our identities up in busyness. We equate being busy with having value.
There’s an episode of Seinfeld in which George Costanza theorized that so long as he looked annoyed his boss would presume that he was hard at work. Like a lot of observational humor, this is a commentary on our culture, and it’s rich with subtext.
We are a busy people. We like that about ourselves. We also hate that about ourselves. Ask someone how they’re doing and you’re likely to hear something along the lines of “I’m busy” or “Things are crazy” or “ACK!” As George Costanza pointed out, we associate being busy with feeling flustered, but being busy also fills a person with a sense of worth because we equate it with being productive.
We take pride in our busyness, but it’s something that chips away at our physical, emotional and spiritual health. We need rest. We need to dial back our busy acts and find some peace.
Rest is about living a better life
Some believe that God made the Earth and cosmos over the course of a few days; others believe it was over the course of several hundred million years. Whatever the case, God rested. After it was all said and done, God took a breather. And it wasn’t because the divine, all powerful creator broke a sweat. Rather, He was introducing a pattern. He was showing us how to live a better kind of life.
We might be helped in our pursuit of rest if we remind ourselves that God doesn’t operate at our frenetic pace. No one has a fuller plate than God—you don’t truly know busy until you’re simultaneously holding the universe together and numbering the hair on peoples’ heads. And yet there are many places in Scripture that mention God sitting on a throne. I love this image. He isn’t checking His phone or pacing back and forth or blustering over a pile of paperwork. He’s sitting.
Follow the Maker’s lead. Take a seat. Turn the volume down. Turn the devices off. Meditate. Rest.
Sean Bess is a freelance writer living in Birmingham. He blogs at seanbess.tumblr.com. You can also find him on Twitter (@SeanBess).