Do you find time to rest?
Our life can get very busy sometimes. The to-do list can get longer then we intended. Like going to a buffet and filling your plate with delicious food. Then, as you walk from the food area to your table, the thought “I hope I'll eat all this” pops into your mind.
Well, me at least. The last few months I have picked up a bit of a to-do list. Not as much as my university days though.
When I was a university student it always felt like there was always something to do. It was either some text to read, an assignment to write or lectures to attend. That was the to-do list for study, plus the other activities in my life.
Tapping each letter with a single pointer meant it took a bit longer for me to write an assignment. I wouldn’t say that I worked harder, but more time and effort was consumed.
Every few weeks, I felt exhausted. However, because I felt restricted by time, I didn’t put much time and thought into resting.
Keep the Sabbath
One of God’s instructions that I didn’t follow too well. Stopping and doing nothing meant that I would use time that I could be making progress in university work. Either that or I would have something else that I could be doing.
I had little time to rest. I am an active person and I like to keep busy, I would tell myself. My honest reflection - this attitude was probably the way I dealt with feelings of being not useful.
When you live in a wheelchair and things are done for you by others mostly, it isn't easy to think of ways you can help others. So, keeping busy with university work and helping my fellow classmates kept me from dwelling on this too much.
Many people with physical disabilities are unable to be employed or struggle to find employment. You may have experienced or understand how having no job can have negative effects on mental health.
Some may even experience depression or anxiety because they are don't have many activities to be occupied with. Options to fulfil the desire to contribute and participate in society is limited for some people with physical disabilities.
So, what am I saying? Was I doing too much? Or, was I doing too little?
Mental health coin
My point is that I see that there are two sides to this mental health coin. In one sense that is, because there is a myriad of factors affecting one’s mental health.
I have been on one side, where I felt down because I wasn't doing enough in life. Then sometimes, I've been on the other side which many people are on. Where there is so much to do we forget to stop and look after ourselves.
Have a day or two off to do nothing. A few years ago, I thought that this was a boring idea. However, this year, God has been teaching me how to rest. The first half of this year, no doors were opening in terms of jobs and activities to do.
I was battling with boredom and really wanting a job. A few months passed and then I came to the realisation that God was giving me the opportunity to rest.
It has been 5 long years of studying. I needed this, I admitted deep down.
Season of rest
Ever since realising I was in a season of rest, I started to enjoy slowing down and doing relaxing things.
Resting has also given me time to focus on my relationship with Jesus. Devoting more time to reading His Word than I have before.
Having a small to-do list meant that I can have the time to meditate and allow the Spirit to reveal encouraging messages. Being less busy gave me more freedom to talk to God and to listen to God.
I am glad that God slowed my life down this year. Firstly, it was needed. Secondly, I am learning new habits of resting.
One of my favourite things to do now is finding different wheelchair friendly walks and parks to explore. It's fun and relaxing. Also, it’s a great time to reflect, pray and hear God's voice. I just need to keep this and other restful things in my schedule as life gets busy again.
Add rest to our schedule
We read in the second chapter of the Bible that God rested - “On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.” (Genesis chapter 2, verse 2). Rest is in God's schedule and in his commandments.
I also recently learnt that the Hebrew word we know as Sabbath means when all work activities cease for rest and celebration. The seventh day should be a day that we're totally or mostly free. Free to do nothing and spend time with our Saviour. Also celebrate, as the Hebrew lexicon suggests, the achievements and work we have done.
So, when is your next rest day?
Manuele Teofilo lives in South Auckland with his parents and siblings. He has graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Human Services and plans to work in the disability sector. He enjoys getting around in his electric wheelchair and having fun with people.