Monday, May 18, 2015

Why We Resist Rest

She's five days old and absolutely perfect. Each day is like waking to a fairy tale - her precious tiny whimpers the first thing I hear, knowing she's looking for me. She's mine and I am all hers.

Still, I find myself resisting it. Finding it so tempting to just sneak down stairs and wipe down a counter, sweep a floor, do something. You'd think I'd embrace this time that I get to slow down completely, sit and hold my new baby, but it's a struggle for me. So much of what makes me feel like myself is in the doing, the caring, the working. When all that is taken away, I feel...useless. Restless. Incomplete somehow. The novelty of ample time to knit and read wore off days ago. Odd since I don't feel like I am particularly tied to accomplishments, but I suppose the habit of work is something hard to kick.

On Saturday while I was laying in bed with my baby, my parents took my children on a walk to visit my Grandmother in her retirement home. My kids came back talking all about it and I thought, yes, this is good. It's good to visit, to bless someone with your presence, to serve them with your love and attention. My grandmother is Mama to six of her own. She worked hard her whole life. Yes, I want my children to serve this wonderful woman. It is so easy for me to embrace this gift for someone else, but for myself? A little bit harder.

Why do we think it is bad for children to occasionally have to serve an adult? Kids should be kids, yes, but kids need to grow into adults and adults who never learned to lend a hand when needed are seriously disadvantaged. It is good for my sons to poke their head in my bedroom door each day and ask if I need anything. It is good for my girls to bring me breakfast and hold the baby while I shower. Just as good as it is for them to visit the elderly or sick, or to push a toddler sibling on a swing for a bit. Fortunately, it is built right into the structure of our family. Everyone serves. Everyone has their turn to be served.

I resist rest because getting something done feels good. It feeds my ego. It makes me feel indispensable, necessary, irreplaceable. Being taken care of, on the other hand, feels like being a nuisance. A liability. A job for someone else. Not because of how I'm being treated, but because of my own inner monologue of what has value.

The truth is, the worth of a person is never dependent on what they do. Never. Being in need of assistance, rest, healing - these things do not make you less than what you were before. These things give you the opportunity to grow in humility, to recognize the innate worth of every human regardless of what was accomplished that day. To set aside ego and allow yourself to be vulnerable. They give the people around you the chance to practice mercy and charity, service and grace.

As I start feeling a bit better, the temptation to do something gets stronger, but I've been through this enough times to know that recovery can be set back to square one by jumping back in too soon. And so, I let them serve. Let them love. Let them practice what we've been teaching them their whole lives. People matter - all people. And serving one another in love is a joy and a privilege.

It's another day and he brings me coffee in bed where I sit nursing the baby. Today, it's my turn to be cared for. Some day it will be his. This is how we live. This is how we practice our faith, our worldview. How we show our children how to live in this world. This is life.

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