I see it all the time, men and women who wake up with their big dreams and ambitions, who pour themselves a cup of coffee as they head out the door, not only to conquer the day, but to go about playing their role in making the world a better place.
They could have been anything, but they have decided to put their time and talents into serving others and solving the deep aches of the world with their drive, their inventiveness, their leadership, their strength, their compassion, their curiosity, their kindness, their charisma, the list can and does go on…
These are the people who have staked their lives on service to others. They see the world’s issues and have resolved to help however they can. They show-up day after day for those around them, but somewhere in the middle of all that showing up they find themselves struggling with burnout and exhaustion.
While this isn’t a struggle unique to those in service industries or compassion careers like healthcare or non-profit, I see it play out in a unique way in those fields.
While rest sounds great in theory, it can feel selfish when the rest you need means someone might go without the services you provide. It’s hard to place limits and boundaries when your effort means someone is helped. It feels selfish to make time for yourself, and it can leave you feeling guilty.
We are not machines. We are people with limitations and boundaries. While we might love helping others, we have to make sure we’re doing it in a way where we are also taking care of ourselves. As exciting as it is to take on new challenges, overcome obstacles, and increase our capacity, we also have to make room to treat ourselves with the care we deserve and need.
Take this as your official permission to rest, to step away from the hamster wheel of production, and the never-ending parade of needs, and to take your time to take care of you.
I could give you a list of how rest actually makes you more productive in the long run.
I could tell you how God built this world with the principle of rest in the first chapters of the bible, because rest is holy.
I could tell you how you cannot help anyone else until you first take care of yourself.
I could call your attention to the fact that if you burnout from lack of rest, you won’t be around to help anyone at all.
But lately, I’ve been challenged to think of rest as so essential to our humanity by the Nap Ministry, and my job that I no longer feel the need to justify it with the promise of greater output or a shinier, better version of you. The point of rest is not your productivity, it is your humanity.
Even in all the beautiful, wonderful ways you are showing up for everyone around you. Even in all the ways you are stretched and pulled to feel and behave in a way that is superhuman- you need rest because you are human.
We will change the world, but we will do it in a way that honors not only the humanity of those around us, but our own. We will find that is enough.