Rest and Receive
By: Claire Vogel
I am very familiar with the way my feet bite into the gravel trail, keeping the pace of my run. Sometimes I love that sound, and a good clean sweat is just what I need to relax. If I’m not really feelin’ it, I usually tell myself I am and go for a run anyway. Until recently. Something big has changed about my workout life: I’ve made it acceptable to walk.
(Across the BLR readership, hardcore cross-country girls drop their jaws wide open. Former teammates feel a rush of bystander embarrassment. Runners everywhere are pretending they don’t know me.)
I catch myself often believing the ridiculousness that it’s not worth going for a walk if I have time to go for a run. Or it’s not worth running if I don’t have time for three miles. I’ve always drawn much of my identity from being a runner, and I think that’s where this fallacy comes from. Running, to my mind, means improving, achieving, training, and becoming better. Walking means that I’m just super lazy. In reality, I find walking really restful, but the concept of ‘rest’ is often obscured by the message that if you’re not improving, you’re not going anywhere.
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Does anybody else find that we have a really hard time receiving gifts? Even in acknowledging my identity, I’m inclined to first call upon the things I’ve achieved, that which makes me a runner, a student, an artist… whatever. Of course, this leaves out the most important thing: Being His is the nature of my identity, and it’s totally a gift.
What’s difficult about gifts is that they must be received (that is, taken into oneself as part of a tricky and uncomfortable process of trusting another). Trusting is hard; it’s a lot easier to just give until you’re plumb burned out. It’s doubly gratifying when everyone can clearly see that you’ve been super generous with your time/resources/etc. when you #fullsend and are now exhausted. I think as humans we like to be extra vocal about this last part: “Ohmygosh I am SO TIRED because I stayed up until 4 am finishing this poster because my group is HORRIBLE and nobody does any work.” (-me)
This has a lot to do with my running dilemma. The lie is that achievement is everything, and you can’t rely on anybody else in order to truly achieve. The truth is that humility is the antidote to self-reliance, and that we’re filled up (for free!) by a source other than ourselves.
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Actually, Jesus does ask us to give it all, and to give authentically. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend.” (John 15:13). I’m pretty sure Jesus wasn’t referring to my group project or my run, since we really just lay down our lives for ourselves when our giving is meant to be seen. But our Father wants to equip us. In following Jesus’ model of laying down our lives, we also follow his instruction to “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30). To give or do authentically, then, means that first we must receive from the promised source. Before giving, before action, comes rest.
As God’s generosity seeps into your life, it’s a lot easier to not sweat so much about the small stuff. Like my run-walk. In the worldly sense, there’s not too much value in slowing down when I could be going faster. But if walking means resting for me, then it’s an opportunity to receive.
Claire Vogel is a disciple of Jesus. While finishing up her nursing degree in Ann Arbor, she’s dreaming big about the future, and spending plenty of time enjoying the things she loves: running, hiking, being outside, large sandwiches, fresh vegetables, and conversation (sometimes all at once).