Room for Rest
Hi. My name is Mele, and I am a people-pleaser.
Recently, I’ve transitioned into a season of rest. Wearied and worn after my summer, I felt the Lord tugging on my heart the call of Matthew 11:28,
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
In a random church service, hearing those words I’d heard a million times, I felt my heart ache deeper for rest in a way it hadn’t before. I practically wanted to jump out of my seat, flail my arms and yell, “Me!! I need that rest – pick me!”
It hit me then that we were made to live in the kind of rest Jesus gives.
And somehow, finding this rest has been a struggle for me. And I am sobered to the truth that this rest comes as an exchange:
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
If you (like me) spent the majority of your life brushing over the “yoke” part of that verse (but also kind of in the back of your head always thought of the yellow part of the egg??), let me give you Wikipedia’s enlightening definition: “a yoke is a wooden beam normally used between a pair of oxen to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs.”
So, in a sense, Jesus is inviting us to come alongside Him, walk as He does, and together carry a light and rest-filled load. But in order to take on the yoke He is offering us, we first must untie ourselves from our own yokes (of people-centered obligations and burdens).
Sometimes I look at my planner and wonder, “God, how the heck can you even fit in here?” My to-do list is out the door and I already feel twelve steps behind… but this is where he wants to give me rest.
In looking around at friends and strangers alike, after only the first week of college, I see lovely, well-meaning people already on the brink of burnout… stressed over internships, sorority recruitments, leadership positions, jobs, volunteer work, figuring out how to be an adult – and on top of all that, the reason we’re even here: school. “Overcommitted” has been the buzzword of my friend group lately.
I’ve noticed this mutual fear among my friends that saying “no” will disappoint others. And yet Galatians 1:10 rings in my ears as response,
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
This is an internal thing that only you and The Lord can figure out in your alone time together. But as a sisterhood, let’s take this a step further. Let’s be a community of women who seek to honor one another’s limits. Who do not praise full planners but pray peace over our busy sisters. Who give grace to those neglected and encourage restful self-care.
So my plea to the fellow people-pleasers out there?
Here’s a challenge: this week, try to say, “no, thank you” to one non-obligatory commitment without giving an excuse.
Don’t put too much on your plate, and when you find yourself wanting to – search your heart to see if it’s an act of trying to please the folks around you. Pray for guidance and for courage to decline the unnecessary stressors.
Remember that God has no hidden agenda for you. There is no quota you must meet, or grade you must make. He simply loves you – freely. And more than anything, He wants to spend time with you (the song “A Little Longer” by Brian & Jenn Johnson puts this beautifully).
Let’s all promise to make room, shall we?
-Mele Girma // @melegirma