You have permission to sit down. Yes, you. Right now. I know, I know, you can’t. The lists won’t accomplish themselves, the kids are bored and bickering, and it’s time to make your famous dish for the umpteenth gathering marking up your calendar this month. Cease striving.
But you see, when we forfeit the opportunity to cease striving, our physical bodies suffer. The pressures to beat the clock will undoubtedly cause stress hormones to elevate our heart rate, inhibit our subconscious ability to breathe slowly and deeply, slow down our gut’s ability to extract precious nutrients and trigger our muscles to be on the ready and tense.
And so, for the time being, find your spot, park yourself in it, and breathe.
I make myself do this often, forcing myself to sit. I recently discovered that I’m really good at allowing my work to steal my joy, disrupt my hope, and impede my intimacy with Christ. The not-so-funny thing is, I only discovered this truth after I gave myself a time out.
In my head, it’s very easy for me to argue the lie ‘If I’m not productive, then have I truly earned the right to sit at all?’ I know my thinking is flawed. What’s more, I know the enemy would like nothing more than to run me into the ground at the hands of my constant toiling.
But God intended our efforts to produce for us a fruit capable of yielding much more than scratched-off lists and satisfied engagements. As a matter of fact, He’s gone to extreme lengths on our behalf just to make it so.
Abandon your work for intimacy with Christ
When we abide in Christ, our toils become less demanding, and transform into pleasant offerings of love. Our hearts swell as we breathe in quiet, stillness and peace in order to propel us forward in our acts of service. When God defines our work and worth it yields intimacy with him. When we find ourselves spinning our wheels, exhausting our hearts, or weighted down by worry, fleeing our work to sit and worship will always draw Jesus near.
“Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing
John 15:4-5 CSB
Thankfully for us, there is no good work we can accomplish outside of intimacy with Christ. This means the pressure’s off us. We have Jesus’ permission to slow down, seek stillness, and surrender our toilings to him.
Searching for joy in the comfort of Christ
As we lean more fully into our abiding, stripping off the relentless layers of hustle and hurry, we uncover a newfound radiance bursting forth within us. When all we know is the comfort of Christ, all we desire becomes clear.
And yet, the realities of life are still upon us.
We will indeed glean nourishment in our moments of rejoicing and worship but we will also feel overwhelmed as we face the alluring festivities of the season: sorting through dozens of matching Christmas pjs, baking sweet treats to serve aside a delicious peppermint hot chocolate, or making our way to the best orchestrated light show in town.
We cannot escape the world, but we can cling to the comfort Christ brings. There is no greater elation than when we choose to make Christ the center of all our pursuits. Maybe, this year, it’ll look like sneaking away with some of that piping hot, hot chocolate, and sitting outside bundled up alone to be filled by the stillness the cold air often brings.
And then, we can delight in Jesus, our joy in comfort.
Emmanuel, our long-awaited hope
When we’ve stolen ourselves away to abide more deeply, re-ignited by the joy such comfort brings, we finally find ourselves in the glorious presence of Emmanual, God with us.
Here, the glitterings of our toils diminish, our strivings become stunted and our hearts explode in wonder. For here, in this sacred space, our hope is made real. In our newfound absence of chaos, we draw near to the triumphant victory awaiting us.
God has given us the gift of Christ, and through him our hope is made secure. Isaiah 9:6 points our hearts to what is true and tangible:
“For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” CSB
Rejoicing in the day to day
Our eyes and ears are constantly thrusting us into process mode. What we see starts the running list of what still needs to be cleaned, fixed up, or handled. Our ears are attuned to the demands of our family, the fight that needs refereeing, or the phone that won’t stop dinging.
And in our attempt to satisfy all the pressing demands, we find ourselves fatigued, grumpy, and flat. We start doing and neglect being.
Today, at this moment, we can choose a reset. We get to decide our where, when, and how. Where will we meet with Christ, when will we make it happen, and how will we adapt our day to fit our most sacred need?
You’ve permission to cease striving.
Monet lives in Alabama with her best friend and husband, Josh. Together they’re raising two kiddos in a house full of lots of noise, crumbs, and many baskets of clean, but unfolded laundry. Monet lives the messy, unspoken parts of life openly to encourage other women that they too can embrace wholeness despite brokenness.