By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
The holiday season is always an exciting time. I know they begin the marketing of Christmas in September these days, but for me, the beginning of the holiday season is Thanksgiving, and it ends on New Year’s Day. It is typically during this time when things can ramp up. The season is filled with holiday parties, shopping for gifts, planning menus, traveling, spending time with friends and family, and let’s not forget the one I love the least, cleaning the house.
In my wife’s culture, they have a tradition around the Christmas season of what they call “picking down the house.” What that means is they must clean their house from top to bottom, literally every inch of the house, and for some reason, your house is not really “picked down” unless you have brand-new curtains. When I asked her why they do this, she could not give me an answer. The combination of all these things is what makes this the busiest season of the year. Strangely one thing that is missing during this time of the year is rest. It seems like that is not even on the menu because of all the things we try to cram into these few weeks. As I get older, I am beginning to question the wisdom in this, and instead of ramping everything up, I am beginning to see the need to rest during the busiest season of the year.
Here are four reasons why you need to rest during the busiest season of the year:
1. You probably need it.
According to the CDC, 1 in 3 Americans doesn’t get enough sleep. This means for every three people reading this article, two of you are not getting enough rest (hopefully, this article isn’t inspiring you to fall asleep right now). There are plenty of studies that show the impact lack of sleep and proper rest has on your overall health. If you are tired and dragging now, then ramping things up during the holiday season is not going to help that.
2. Every season is now busy.
I was having a conversation with a friend recently, and we were talking about the way that Sundays used to be. Most of the stores were closed, except for the essential stores. Being closed on Sunday was not something just reserved for Chick-Fil-A; just about every store was closed on Sunday. Think about how that has shifted where chick-fil-a is now the outlier, and people think it's strange they are closed on Sunday. The shift in our society now means that every season is a busy one. If you don’t believe me, take a look at your calendar and see how much empty space exists in it, probably not much. Surprisingly or maybe not, working from home does not solve this because it makes us even busier. In an article by SHRM, here is a statistic they mentioned about remote workers.
“Nearly 70 percent of professionals who transitioned to remote work because of the pandemic say they now work on the weekends, and 45 percent say they regularly work more hours during the week than they did before, according to a survey of 2,800 workers by Los Angeles-based staffing firm Robert Half.”
Working from home has turned people into workaholics because they haven’t figured out how to disconnect and when you couple that with everything else, then every season becomes a busy one. Rather than adding busy on top of more busy, maybe it makes sense to recognize your need to rest during the busiest season of the year.
3. Slowing down forces you to prioritize what’s important.
"Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." – James 4:14
I don’t know if you have realized it, but life goes by extremely fast. When I was younger, it felt like the days were long and the years moved slowly. However, when I hit my late teens, it seems like someone sped up the clock. You blink, and another year goes by. You blink twice, and another decade has passed. While no one has sped up the clock, and this is just the reality of life, James captures it perfectly by calling it a mist. Because this is true, we need to make sure we are prioritizing the right things. One because you don’t want to miss them and two because you don’t know how long you will get to enjoy them. That’s why it makes perfect sense for you to rest during the busiest season of the year. By slowing down and purposefully doing less, you can prioritize what is most important. Sometimes we can’t enjoy the moment we are in because we are thinking about the moment ahead. When you break it all down, life is about moments, and for most of them, if you don’t enjoy them at the time, you are going to miss them and never get them back. In this season, be intentional about slowing down so you can focus and be present in the moments that really matter.
4. You are following the example Jesus set.
"Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." – Luke 5:15-16
When you read through the Gospels, you see a common theme in Jesus’ life. He would often send the crowds away or withdraw from them. He had this habit of mixing in work with rest. He was not on the go 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He would find time to minister and find time to recharge. He was setting an example that we should all follow. It can be great to be in the mix but sometimes it’s better to be outside of it. Jesus made rest and his relationship with the Father a priority in his life. He built his life around these things, which made him more effective in the work he had to do. Rather than trying to do more, which is the natural inclination we all have, why not follow Jesus’ lead, and take time to rest, especially during this busiest season of the year?
So how do you accomplish something so daunting in a culture that pushes you to always be on the go? Let me give you one suggestion. Learn to say no. The truth is you can’t be everywhere and be all things to all people. It may sound good in theory, but it does not work in practice. We must learn (I am including myself in this too) to say no to busy so we can say yes to rest.
I understand these words are easier to write than they are to do, yet we must prioritize getting to this place. The world is not going to slow its pace down, so you must slow yours down. You may feel if you do this will be missing out, or you may accomplish less. On the contrary, when you rest, not only will you feel better, but you will be more present and more productive in the things of life that matter the most.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/svetikd
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. His most recent book is The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. Clarence is also committed to helping 10,000 people learn how to study the Bible and has just released his first Bible study course called Bible Study Basics. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.