He wants me to rest in Him and invites me into what He is doing for His glory. That doesn’t sound like a burden that sounds like freedom.

I remember it well. I was sitting in my dining room and all of the sudden my heart started to race uncontrollably. I couldn’t breathe, I felt nauseous and scared. I stood up walked around the room took deep breathes and finally my heart slowed to a normal pace and my need to throw up vanished. What just happened? I had just experienced my first ever panic attack. It was terrible. I had no idea why it had happened and that scared me even more.

Too Much

I realized then and there that some things needed to change in my life. I was doing too much. I was working two jobs, my husband was working long hours, we have three boys to raise, I was caring for at-risk teenagers (with hard stories and crazy circumstances), and all of it was taking a toll on me. I realized that it was time to take seriously caring for myself. I needed to sit with Jesus and ask what rest was going to look like for me. Everyone is different and self-care is unique for each individual.

I had a few more panic attack episodes. My husband saw what was happening and decided to send me to Arizona to visit his sister and her family for a few days. I didn’t want to go. I had things to do and responsibilities at home and at work. Yet, he knew that I needed a break. I needed time and space to process.

On the plane ride from Seattle to Arizona, I started reading Shauna Neiquest’s book Present Over Perfect. I almost threw the book across the aisle of the plane. What she was talking about and describing was me and I didn’t want to hear it. Yet, God pushed me to continue to read. As I sat on the plane I started to cry. I know the young ladies sitting next to me probably thought I was some crazy lady but God reassured me that I needed to listen to my tears. So, I kept reading while tears rolled down my face. I had been doing too much. I was weary and discouraged.

Throughout this last year, I have been processing what self-care and rest look like for me. What brings me joy? What energizes me? What makes me laugh or smile? I don’t think I’d ever processed these questions and it was time to start.

Creating Space

Part of the struggle for me was not even having space to process. I was on the go constantly and rarely had a chance to stop and listen to my heart or even realize that I was completely exhausted. I couldn’t slow down otherwise all the balls I was juggling would drop. That’s the opposite of what Jesus call us to. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I needed rest. I needed true rest that only comes when I allow Jesus to enter into my heart, mind, and soul. When I completely surrender to Him. Rest for me is to stop doing and just be. In Shauna’s book Present Over Perfect she says, “I’m learning to silence the noise, around me and within me, and let myself be seen and loved, not for what I produce, but for the fact that I have been created by the hands of a holy God, like every other thing on this earth, equally loved, equally seen.” I wanted this for my life. This sounds like rest to me. To just be.

Growing up in the church and around churchgoers I always heard that Jesus gives you rest. Well, what does that mean? That sounds lovely, doesn’t it? I want to get to be in that place all the time. True rest is the day-to-day dependence upon God for living the life He has called us to live. There are many day-to-day things that can interfere with our resting in Jesus. When I start to feel anxious I know that I need to stop and pray, listen to the Spirit and rely on my Him to guide me. I need to fully give Him authority in my life again and again and again.

He Doesn’t Need Me

I also have come to realize that over the years I have believed a lie; “If I stop doing and going then I am not valuable.” The funny thing is that Jesus doesn’t need me to do anything. He ultimately has it all figured out and He calls us into a life on mission with Him and for Him but He doesn’t need me. He wants me though! He wants me to rest in Him and invites me into what He is doing for His glory. That doesn’t sound like a burden that sounds like freedom. I get to walk with Him in life. I get to know Him, listen to Him, and obey Him.

“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are? And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life?” Matthew 6:25-27

Matthew 6:33 says, “But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Jesus has it all figured out. I can rest in knowing that He’s got it covered.

After having several months of processing what rest is I have learned more about myself and what rest in Jesus looks like for me.

Self-care for me is exercising, eating healthy, waking up early to read my Bible, writing and journaling what God has been teaching me or questions I have for Him, not looking at my phone until my kiddos are off to school, listening to my tears, reading books from the library, getting a pedicure, going out to coffee with a good friend, saying no to lots of good things and saying yes to the right things, drinking coffee in the yard with my husband, taking vitamins (lots of vitamin D because, well, Seattle), going on adventures with my husband and our boys, sitting in the sun, being in the mountains, planting flowers, painting walls and furniture and creating. These are just some of the things that give me silence to process while taking in the rest that only Jesus can give.

Have you stopped and processed what self-care looks like for you? What does it mean for you to have rest? Have you asked Jesus to walk in that with you? Take time today to ask Him. Jesus wants to give you rest.


What would change if you found true rest in Christ?

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Sondra Chamberlain

Author Sondra Chamberlain

Sondra and her husband Todd helped start Soma Tacoma in 2004. They have faithfully served Soma and the city of Tacoma for the last 14 years. Their Missional Community served the Lincoln High School football team over the last five years. Recently they moved to the Seattle area and joined Doxa Church in Bellevue. Their Soma MC continues to faithfully serve the Lincoln HS football team in Tacoma.

More posts by Sondra Chamberlain

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