"The thistle is a prickly flower, aye, but how it is sweetly worn."

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Tree Beside the Water

(She) is like a tree planted beside streams of water
that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither... Psalm 1:2-3

Beginning in January 2015, I began a long term struggle with The Lord in understanding the word Rest.  Initially I chose it as the word for my year, but as time has gone on, The Lord really didn't let me choose a new word for 2016.  The lessons of rest needed to continue. 

Rest for me has become a bit of an iceberg term.  Originally I truly just wanted to rest in a fully physical sense.  I was quite literally over tired.  Within a few short months, it became clear to me that Rest was ultimately a state of the soul.  I was amazed at the bible verses the Lord would bring me to during quiet times or sermons throughout the week.  "I am the vine, you are the branches... abide (rest) in my love...) or "be still (rest) and know that I am God...  The above verse I found recently when I was just seeking direction for this current stage of life.  And again, ultimately the tree just rests next to the stream.  It doesn't do anything.  It just stands there- its the stream that feeds it, the Sun that sustains it.  But the tree itself, just rests. 

For years, I have looked at my relationship with God as a to do list.  I need to follow these rules, I need to like these things, I need to have a resume of all these activities or be a part of these social justice movements.  But for me, those things cause anxiety.  I can't be that person without being tired.  And when I'm tired I'm the person I don't want to be.  As I started to realize that my anxiety was greatly triggered by to do lists of all kinds, I began to cut back. 

Originally this was by working part time, then staying home full time.  As time has gone on though, I realize that even without work, the idol of "do and accomplish all the things" still creeps back in.  I should homeschool, I should plan activities for Avonlea, I should put Jude in multiple activities, I should have a perfectly clean house, I should, I should, I should.

The clean house is what really gets to me.  It is such an idol in my life.  And the worst part is that when I idolize a clean house, I am way to quick to be annoyed or resentful to the less clean folk I live with.  "What good is it to gain the whole world [clean house] yet forfeit my soul [family]."  I'm learning- and by learning meaning I am deep in the trenches with this- that I need to let the darn house go.  I need to play more and nag less.  And ultimately this comes down to - Rest.  I need to rest when there are crumbs and rest when there are dishes but little people are dying to be played with.  Obviously you can't rest from these things all the time.  But the pursuit of perfection in visible things doesn't bring about godliness in my life. 

I find I am most holy, Christ like, and soul content, when I am resting in God's love knowing He loves me for who I am right now.  And I am resting with my family and enjoying their giggles and pouring into them.  Not in pinterest perfect ways.  Just messy, sticky, legos all over the floor ways. 

Rest is the state my soul was called to be in.  Meditative.  Abiding.  Still.  Not striving.  Content.  Peaceful.  Simple.  These are the places I know Christ is.  And I sense He is most apparent in me when I am seeking these things as well. 

When I think about it, I realize that this is a state of thanksgiving.  I am quiet enough to hear him, still enough to see him, and I can't help but notice how loved I am and how good He is.  And those are the moments the 'world' fades away.  And I am free.

So while I still have an awfully long way to go, I am so thankful the Lord continues to daily lead me to still waters, that He still daily takes me back to I want to rest Ashley.  There are no sweeter words than Him inviting my soul to rest.