Guest post: Anna Kettle
When the Covid-19 pandemic first began to unfold last spring, it felt like those hard days also held an invitation to rest, to slow down and simplify our lives.
Life as we knew it was suddenly interrupted beyond all recognition, but I was just full of good intentions about how I would use all that extra time.
Reflecting back though, it has become very clear that in spite of so many of my commitments and plans being cancelled, I still haven’t felt more time-rich or rested.
Instead of a season of stripping back, it seems I simply swapped old forms of busyness for new ones.
Maybe you can relate?
Some of us are leaders in hospital, schools, and other vital public services, and have ended up working longer hours as part of the pandemic response. Meanwhile, others are leaders in business or in ministry, but have been left struggling to balance the juggle between homeschooling, home-working, and trying to keep on top of all the extra chores created by everyone constantly being at home.
It also strikes me that a lot of the tiredness many of us are feeling in this season is not just physical exhaustion; it’s also mental and emotional overload. We’re almost a full year on from when the pandemic first disrupted our lives now, and I think it’s fair to say that everyone I speak to at the moment is feeling pretty weary.
In the UK where I live, we began 2021 entering into a third period of national lockdown, and have been living under varying levels of restrictions ever since last March. But when our lives and routines get continually disrupted and plans keep getting up-ended at short notice, it can really begin to take its toll on us – relationally, emotionally, and spiritually too.
The truth is that in order to be spiritually healthy leaders, who lead ourselves and others well, we have to be very aware of and responsive to these present challenges and their impacts on our own hearts and on those that we lead.
And whether that’s in your work place, your church, or even your own home, leading well starts by entering into God’s rest.
But how do we practice resting well in this unique season?
For a long time I thought that in order to discover biblical rest I needed to completely overhaul my life. But what I’ve discovered as I’ve been writing a book on this subject and digging deep into God’s word is that you really can create better margins of rest right where you are. And small changes are often the best.
Life certainly isn’t easy right now, but one of the simple spiritual practices that has really been helping me is to take an emotional and spiritual ‘pulse check’ at the end of each day. Proverbs 4:23 says ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it’ and I’ve found this such simple but wise advice.
Why carry today’s cares into tomorrow, or let small concerns go left unchecked?
How does this work in practice? You might just spend a few minutes thinking and praying, or you could try journaling too. Here are a few simple questions to help get you started:
• What went well today, and what could have been better?
• What felt inspiring, disappointing, difficult – and why?
• What do I want to take with me into tomorrow, and what do I want to leave behind?
• What is God saying to me right now, and what am I going to do about it?
Even in times of political, social, and economic instability, we can learn to slow down, simplify, and find a quiet and calm only Jesus can provide.
For more ideas on finding respite amid life’s complications. you can find additional helpful practices in Anna’s new book, Sand Between Your Toes: Inspirations for a Slower, Simpler & More Soulful Life, This collection of daily devotionals, prayers and practical tips help busy women in leadership truly find God’s rest.