When I was a little girl, I LOVED building forts. I spent my days constructing tiny (and oh so elaborate) homes out of anything that I could find. Stacks of pillows for walls, blankets for roofs, chairs as support systems. I channeled my inner architect, interior designer, and engineer all at once. Y’all – fort building in my household was no joke. As the child architect I was, I believed in extravagant and over the top. That included, but was not limited to, doorbells, windows that opened and closed, trap doors, and secret rooms. Sometimes, if I was feeling crazy, I would even venture into my backyard and collect the biggest sticks I could find and spend hours trying to balance them into perfect teepee formation (bless my 8-year-old heart).
The building process was often long and frustrating (cue the tears when my whole masterpiece came tumbling down when I accidentally pulled on the wrong pillow). But, I think the part I actually loved, and what got me through the handiwork (or lack there-of), was the space of solitude the fort offered when I was finished. I would crawl through the small hole I left for a door, into a cozy (cramped) room – coloring book and flashlight in hand – and just be.
I was never a quiet kid, though, or even one who really liked to keep to myself. Quite the opposite, actually. I loved hustle and bustle. My house was utter chaos my whole childhood, and I loved it. Having two little siblings was enough to create a whirlwind of motion and noise in our small three-bedroom home. I thrived in that setting. I like to think I was made for a fast-paced lifestyle. But – deep inside of me – there was a little girl who craved quiet rest. I longed for a place that I could crawl into in the midst of a hectic day, and for my 8-year-old self that usually meant the two-foot-tall pillow fort that I had built earlier that day.
I look back on that sweet childhood and can’t help but wonder when and why I stopped doing this? When did I decide that I no longer needed a safe, quiet, all-to-myself place? Because let me tell you, life hasn’t slowed down - the chaos just looks a little bit different. Now, I am surrounded by the needs of people who rely on me. I am faced with a never-ending and always-expanding to-do list. My days are go, go, go and I am lucky if I get a decent amount of time to sit down and enjoy a meal. So – why did I stop taking the time to crawl into my fort?
Because we are fully human, and not super-women (no matter how much we try to convince ourselves that we are), we are in dire need some sweet, sweet solitude. I can tell you right now we will not be capable of living the full lives that we want if we don’t understand the need for rest. And I’m not just talking about “let me take a three hour afternoon nap” rest; I’m talking about ”let me sit, quiet my heart, and lean into Jesus” rest. True, good for the soul, rest is not figuring out how we can empty our minds (binge watching Netflix anyone?) but giving ourselves a chance to fill our hearts with Christ – the giver of life.
Here is a truth that will set you free – choosing to spend some time with just you and the sweet Lord above is NOT selfish! Prioritizing your need for rest over the world’s need for you is not self-centered. Jesus emphasized this over and over in scripture. One time, Jesus sent His disciples out to do some hard work – kingdom building work. When the disciples returned back to Jesus, after doing what He had called them to do, the book of Mark tells us, “[Jesus] said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat” (Mark 6:31). The disciples were tired! They were worn out. Jesus didn’t look at them and say, “You need to do more.” He looked at them and said, “Come and rest a while.” How often do we find ourselves living the “no leisure to even eat” life? Even on those days, Jesus invites us (BEGS US) to come and sit at His feet and REST.
Sisters, start building your fort today. Seek out a quiet place where you can find refuge. A place where you can be away from the demands of the world and draw near to the Lord. That might be sitting on the twin XL bed in your dorm room or in a quiet corner of a neighborhood coffee shop. Wherever it is, whatever it looks like, find your spot! The spot where you can take the much needed and well deserved time to refresh your soul.
Just like the hectic and the chaos look a little bit different in my life now than it did when I was 8, so does the fort I build. Maybe it's less pillow walls and blanket roofs, and more time with a shut door and an open Bible.
Kieran // @kcgarv