When Relaxing is Hard
Sitting on my towel on the sand, watching the waves come in and recede, I feel strangely restless and uncomfortable. My cousin Nathalie and I had planned an afternoon getaway to the beach, but we apparently had come with different visions of what that would look like. I’ve lived no more than thirty minutes from the ocean most of my life, and I love any excuse to go to the beach. But growing up in a family with three brothers, my experience of beach trips has always been full of physical activity – swimming, boogey-boarding, frisbee, volleyball, building sand-sculptures, etc.
So when Nathalie stretches out on her towel with a magazine she’s brought, I’m at a loss for what to do. It never occurred to me to bring reading material to the beach. I shift on my towel and scan the shoreline. Aren’t we going to DO something? Sensing my discomfort, my cousin turns to look at me, shaking her head.
“You need to learn to relax,” she chides gently.
“I AM relaxing!” I protest.
“No, you’re not,” she says. “You’re all tense, ready to jump up at any minute. We came to the beach to relax!”
She’s right. I am tense. It’s hard for me to completely relax. Even when I’m at the beach, I’m always busy. I guess if I’m active, even if it’s swimming or boogie-boarding, I feel like I’m being productive, like I’m accomplishing something. But when I sit still for just a few minutes, I start to feel guilty. There’s so much to do – emails to respond to, projects to work on, errands to run, phone calls to make… How can I just sit here and do NOTHING?
No Need for Guilt
But why do I feel guilty if I slow down and take time to rest? Am I placing my value in what I accomplish? Is my worth determined by what I produce? My security doesn’t lie in what I do, but in Who I belong to. I’m an adopted daughter of the Heavenly Father, and He accepts me and loves me. Ephesians 1 says, “In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:5-6, NAS).
Lying back on the towel, I exhale slowly, trying to take my cousin’s advice. Relax, relax, I tell myself. I watch the seagulls wheeling overhead in the bright blue sky. I close my eyes and feel the sun warming my face. And I listen to the surf crashing on the sand, and children giggling and squealing as they play in the water.
Emails can wait. Projects will still be there when I get home. Worrying about it or feeling guilty about it doesn’t help anything! My relationship as a daughter of the King isn’t dependent on what I accomplish today. I don’t need to prove myself or try to earn my acceptance. I can rest in my relationship with Him, and enjoy these “times of refreshing” (Acts 3:19, NIV).
What about YOU? In all your rushing around and busy-ness, are you willing to push the “PAUSE” button on life? Take time today to exhale and rest and be refreshed in the security of your Heavenly Father’s love for you!
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 (NIV)