Today I am bringing you another book review, finally! Shelly Miller’s book, Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World, came to me at the most opportune time in my life. Major things are unsettled in my life, I just had my busiest semester in college to date, and my whole family is going through a period of adjustment as we try to discover what our new normal looks like.
In short, this is not a period of time in which rest has been a major focus for me. When I think of rest, I think of being rested, of getting a solid 8 hours of sleep (something that hasn’t been a reality for at least the last 3 months, if not the last 6), not having to rely on coffee to function, and being in a place where there is time for family, friends, and downtime. What if rest is more than that? And what purpose does rest serve? What happens if you don’t get any rest? Why bother when there is so much to do that only I can do? I never stopped to ask myself these questions, but the answers are important. I’ve been going hard for so long, praying that I don’t get sick or force myself into exhaustion because life is so overwhelming right now. I knew I couldn’t go on forever, but I also didn’t see an end in sight. I needed a book about rest and the spirit of Sabbath. God knew.
If you look at my copy of this book, it’s no longer crisp, white, with a solid, flat backbone. It looks a little like me at the end of a long haul: crinkly-clothed, bent over with weariness, marked in all the places that are well-used. I dog-eared every few pages throughout the whole book until I decided that I’ll probably just re-read the whole book instead of revisiting all the places that touched my soul and stood out to me as important. If I’d armed myself with a highlighter (and there were many times that I lamented not carrying one), much of Rhythms of Rest would be a sea of yellow. Do I need to remember that rest is important? Yes. Do you? Yes. But what does that look like for each of us? This book sifts through some ideas of what rest looks like for each of us and reminds the reader why we need to stop and rest.
I’d like to share a few of my favorite passages; I couldn’t possibly share them all for fear being accused of copying the whole book. Seriously, if you feel like you struggle with what rest looks like, if you’re weary and worn around the edges from a season of business or uncertainty, or you just need to remember that God gave us rest and that it’s okay to say no to business and take time for yourself, this book is a good one to pick up. Miller says, “When others point out your overtired state, is your response ‘I’ll rest when the work is done’… are you easily irritated by the needs of others… do you fear stopping because everything might crumble in your absence?” (84). Sound familiar at all?
Near the beginning of the book, Miller talks about how busyness can overcome us: “We embrace intentions for work, academics, relationships, finances, recreation, and faith, but what about intentions for rest… we don’t dare to dream about rest outside of paid vacation time because a whole day of rest seems unrealistic… as a result, we block out the possibility of rest altogether” (44). Have you ever thought about intentionally resting as being a vital part of your life? “ ‘Wasting time’ is actually the most productive time action you may take this week” (Miller, 44).
Even though I know deep inside that I feel more productive after spending time hiking, sitting in the grass at the park while my kids play, resting in the good conversation of a trusted friend, or after ‘wasting time’ reading or writing, I still needed someone to tell me that it’s okay to rest. Is that crazy? I know that resting is good, and yet I can be very resistant to it. This comes from trusting myself to handle everything instead of knowing that God can handle some of it. That’s what I walked away with. Trust God. Rest. Enjoy the Sabbath (even if your rest isn’t on Sunday, or isn’t even a whole day!) as God intended for his beloved. There are no rules on Sabbath, but there is a heart attitude. Oh, how I love that idea so much!
I’ll leave you with one more quote that sums up what I felt was the most important message in the book, “Body, mind, and soul more easily enter rest when we understand and then accept our worthiness based on who we are, not on what we do” (Miller, 129). If we know who we are because God loves us, we can rest without feeling guilty about it. Beautiful, wonderful grace, what a gift!
Whether you pick up a copy of this book or not, my hope for you, dear reader, is that you would enter into a season where rest is valuable to you, where you feel no condemnation for taking time for yourself when you need it (which can be hard, but doable, during the holidays), and where you know that your worth comes from who you are, not just what you do.
I was given a free copy of this book for review purposes. This review is still my own opinion, my own thoughts on what I read, and I was not required to leave a positive review.
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