Have you ever spent a day just doing “nothing”. You know, the days where you sleep in, never leave the house, maybe watch a lot of Netflix or read a hundred pages of a book. They are nice days, some of the time. But the weird thing about those days is how tired you feel after them. Those lazy days are exhausting.
There is a weird (and very thin) line between rest and complacency. Sleeping twelve hours puts us in a funk. It seems paradoxical. Shouldn’t we be extra rested? Shouldn’t we be bursting with energy?
But it doesn’t quite work like that. Exercise (the use of energy) wakes us up. Being tired makes us tired. Being active gives us energy.
Until it doesn’t. The other side of this coin is that we do need rest. We do need to slow down.
So where is the balance? How do we go slow enough not to tire ourselves out but also stay active enough to not tire ourselves out? How do we be productive without burning out? There seems to be a sweet spot somewhere in the middle. But it is very hard to find.
Lethargic or Overwhelmed?
The symptoms are the same. We feel fatigued. Like we need a nap. But on one hand, it is because we have done too much and on the other we have done too little.
We tend not to rest when we need to. We get excited, we get going, we see dominoes falling in front of us. We are on a roll and we don’t want to stop.
And we tend to “rest” when we don’t need to. We call apathy rest. We call laziness a “break”.
Context makes a big difference in telling the two apart. If you are resting for the third day in a row, you are probably on the lethargic side of the spectrum. If you haven’t rested in three weeks, you are probably overworked.
Pursuing truth is the key for telling the two apart. What is our motivation? Mission or ME? If we follow what we “feel” like doing, we often slide down one slope or the other. If we are truly assessing the best way to participate in our mission, we are more likely to do it right.
There are no easy answers. We need truth and self-awareness. We need the ability to measure our life against the mission we are called to pursue rather than the circumstances that make up each day.
It can help to have a community. Since getting married, I have noticed that it is harder to be lethargic. It is also more difficult to overwork. There is someone else constantly aware (relatively) of what I am doing. Someone who I trust and has the ability to speak into my life. It is immense. We share truth by giving each other feedback, sharing what we see.
Of course, this is imperfect because all of us are imperfect. The community we are in relationship with are not arbiters of truth anymore than we are. They are pursuers of truth. They can help us discern what we are doing and why.
Yet, at the end of the day, the choice falls to me. The responsibility of awareness is mine to own. And the ability to properly steward my life cannot be passed on to someone else.
Vision and truth, rather than circumstance and mood, ought to drive my rest and my routines. Only then can I more accurately discern if I need to take a step back or press a step further.