Four months ago I moved to Guatemala to intentionally slow down, rest, and recover from a life of busyness and burnout. If I’ve learned anything from my experience thus far, it’s this:
1. Don’t give your phone number to creepy guys in salsa clubs no matter how charming they are or how lonely you are.
2. Practicing Spanish is not a good enough reason to justify a telenovela addiction on Netflix.
3. I was made to engage in meaningful work.
I’m far worse at resting than I thought I would be. Even as I ache for rest, I squirm from it. The very thing that is supposed to heal me—to be unproductive, to not measure my worth in blog posts or word counts—is the thing that is driving me crazy. Leaving me bored and confused. Who am I without my words? How do I give myself the time to rest when not working makes me so unhappy? How do I heal when it kills me to sit still?
I know I’m supposed to be learning to lean on God. I’m supposed to be refined by the stripping away of the trappings that distract me from my true identity in Christ. The depth of my trust is supposed to be deepening. My joy should be growing despite my circumstances.
But mostly these last few months I haven’t felt growth or inner peace. Mostly, I’ve been bored.
I wish I could say I’ve spent my abundant free time investing in deep, meaningful relationships, becoming fully fluent in Spanish, or spending hours in awe-filled prayer and adoration of the God who brought me here. I wish I could say I’ve written countless articles, finished my memoir, and blogged everyday, but I haven’t. The truth is far less glamorous.
I thought by now I’d know how to engage in restorative rest. I thought by now I’d be so good at cultivating peace that a mere glance at me would emanate tranquility like a serenity spa, eucalyptus incense, cucumber infused water, terry cloth robes and all.
But I’m a mess. A ball of anxiety and disappointment.
Instead of resting, I’ve been running. Running and numbing. Running from responsibility and numbing with distractions—with Netflix, with new love interests, with a never ending supply of excuses for not engaging in the world around me.
Instead of trust, I’ve cultivated bitterness. I’ve been angry at God that this adventure abroad hasn’t given me all the desires of my heart. Angry at myself for failing to thrive here, for failing to seek Him first.
The almighty God of the universe asked me to give up burnout and for the most part I haven’t done it. I know He’s asking me to say no to the things that numb me. I know He’s asking me to stop running. I know He’s asking me to say no burnout and yes to Him.
But I’ve dragged my feet, indignant that He would want me to give up these comforts, too.
Just the other day, a light bulb went on: what if I’ve been looking at it all wrong? What if it’s a gift to say no? To say that this life, this running and numbing, is not what I want? What if saying no isn’t just saying no, but a way of saying yes to hope, a way of choosing to believe that He has something better for me?
What if these last four months of floundering have pointed to the truth He wanted me to see all along: that He will restore my joy; He just hasn’t done it yet.
I thought admitting that my joy has not yet returned would mean either one of two things:
1. That God does not make good on His promises
2. That I’ve done something wrong that has caused me to miss out on Him fulfilling His promises
I left out the other option: That God hasn’t made good on His promise to restore my joy, YET.
But He will. In His timing. In His way.
Just this last week I’ve been beginning to see the glimpses of a bigger plan, a better plan than I could have imagined. A plan filled with meaningful work and joy. A plan built in His timing and with His power, despite my heel dragging and unbelief.
Check back tomorrow to find out why my hope is stirring and my feet are tapping in my seat.