After speaking at a weekend marriage seminar, I was exhausted. As soon as I boarded the plane home, I put on my noise-canceling headphones, closed my eyes and listened to my favorite music. When we landed, I felt refreshed, because music is one of the things that helps me rest. The next morning, I woke up at 5 o’clock and drove two hours into the mountains. I hiked to 12,000 feet so I could fish in a mountain stream. It was as if I were in heaven! To be sure, trout fishing in the mountains of Colorado is not a “restful” activity. I’m usually worn out after a day of wading through rushing water — but my heart had come alive.
Rest is more than a good night’s sleep. It is any activity that rejuvenates you and brings life to your soul — whether that’s relaxing at home with a good book or trout fishing in the Rockies.
Rest is often misunderstood and seen as laziness. Some even view it as a form of spiritual deficiency, misapplying King Solomon’s statement that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” (Proverbs 16:27, TLB, a paraphrase). But Jesus knows that we need rest. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28, NIV).
Taking time to rest — physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally — is in the best interest of you and your marriage. God doesn’t want you to be an empty, exhausted person with nothing to give. Rest empowers you to love your spouse from a place of abundance.
We must be careful, however, that we don’t settle for counterfeits. What do you do when you’re tired? Do you drink coffee, veg in front of the TV, guzzle an energy drink, peruse social media or pound a bag of Doritos? Unfortunately, these survival behaviors rarely rejuvenate and often leave you jittery or feeling guilty.
Discovering true rest means pursuing experiences that refresh our tired minds and bodies. We must identify and devote time to things that inspire passion, hope, healing, creativity and joy.
A few activities that I consider restful are sleeping, laughing, gardening, meditating on God’s Word, painting, reading and watching movies. What experiences bring you rest?
Dr. Greg Smalley is vice president of marriage and family formation at Focus on the Family. He and his wife, Erin, are the authors of Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage.
Based on research and experience from Dr. Greg and Erin Smalley, Focus on the Family has created valid and reliable questions that evaluate the strength of your marriage. Take our free assessment now.