Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rest for the Weary

Tonight once again showed me my limits. At Cornerstone, BJ Woodworth, pastor at Open Door, spoke just the message I needed. The topic was rest, not sleep or a break, but true rest. This is something most college students get very little of, and the general population seems not to find important. In some ways this will be a more eloquent post than the last. Basically, I'm going to elaborate on how to find rest and why it is important.

We are never satisfied. It's true. Almost everything I do is gain some measure of satisfaction or to impress someone else. We seek praise. We want to be accepted. This is fine, but it can become our only goal if we aren't careful. There's never enough time, so we must work longer, harder, faster, and without ceasing. Skipping meals becomes common, and we become slaves to our jobs and homework. I can't go a day without checking my e-mail, facebook, or the news.I need the connection or I might miss something. My phone is always with me and on, except when I'm asleep. It's hard to relax. Even when I'm not in class or doing homework, I'm always thinking about something. My mind is seldom at ease. I have to fix every problem, make everything the way I want it to be, and I need to be in control. I want perfection, nothing is ever good enough. If I got a 98 I want a 100. An hour after dinner I want more food, I'm always looking for something to top my current best. Even if it isn't my business it is. I care about my image, even though I claim not to, acceptance means a lot actually. I judge things before I try them. I'm jealous when other people succeed, my own failed relationships make me envy of those with successful ones. I think I'm better than other people, even when I'm not, and I show favoritism to people. I've been conditioned that I can do anything if I want to, so I don't accept no as an answer. My casual indifference is a symptom of my lack of direction. It's hard for me to be truly passionate about anything I'm suppose to be. It's hard for me to fake interest, yet even classes that I designate as 'boring' are capable of holding my interest. If given the chance I could talk about everything from football to geography and back again. If a job doesn't 'utilize' my talents I hold it as beneath me. It's easy for me to put very little effort in and still do a good job. I'd never choose a job over class, and I think working in an office is often slow torture. And despite everything I can't rest. Sure, I can sleep, but I seldom find peace. My heart is usually burdened with something, and I can't stop thinking as hard as I try. It doesn't turn off.

I always want to be something to someone. I'll listen, I'll give advice, which may suck and I might not follow, but I'll give it. I can be the realist, optimist, even the pessimist from time to time. I wonder about the pain other people feel and how I can stop it. I want to help people forget the past, or to embrace a beautiful future. I want to be the one to tell people how special they are. I want to be the one that doesn't lie. I want to be the one who isn't late, won't keep you waiting, and isn't going to walk away when it gets tough. I'll be the friend who would take a bullet, and the one who would show up even if everyone else refused to come. And I try, but I still don't find any rest. I'm never good enough, and I can never help the people I want to most. Although, there are people who get me close to rest. Some of my buddies from home can get my mind off almost anything. When we hang out and do nothing I feel like nothing is a problem. Even the worst day seem better. I forget my worries, my hopes, my fears, and everything aside from the distraction of harmless fun. At college, they aren't around and it's a shame. However, last semester I found similar feelings for a time. These were more meaningful feelings, and in moments I felt completely at ease. Then I begin to think about what happened if it ended, and then when it did I was once again drifting. It's a rare person who makes you better than you are just by being around you. I found that, and I'm thankful that I did, but I still try to re-capture it. But I'm missing the point. There isn't anything I can, do, say, or be to somehow re-create it. Still I can't find rest. Probably because I've been looking at it all wrong. The answer isn't with me, but it is with God.

I can't DO anything to find rest. Until I realize that I'll never find. If I don't turn my brain off, and stop trying to play God rest isn't coming anytime soon. It's time to get off facebook, turn the phone off, and put the remote down. Things are beyond me control, and I need to give them to God. Yes, it's really hard to do, and most of the time I fail. However, in the end this is the only way to find true rest. Sometimes work is too much, and you have to stop completely. This isn't a slow down or a change of pace, it's a complete and utter shut down of everything. The business of others is beyond my control, which is something I need to learn to accept, and I'm not the answer to the problems of the world. I have limits, I'm not all-powerful, all-knowing, or all-anything. My identity is not determined by my job, my zip code, or my paycheck. I'm a human being, flesh and blood, and I have a soul. It needs refreshed, refined, and rested. I need out of the dorm, out of Oakland, somewhere outside and isolated. My soul needs to breathe, my brain needs to turn off, and then I can find rest. My concerns, hopes, and fears all will go to God. I will shut my eyes and let God open them.

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