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A Mother Needs to Feel Restored

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life? ~ Mary Oliver1

One morning in January, I met some moms for coffee and listened as one mom shared a story from the Christmas holidays.

On a busy Saturday, as she ran circles around the house trying to decorate and tackle her to-do list, her husband kicked back in the den to watch college football.

Each time that she passed him, her irritation rose. With a drink in one hand and a crackling fire at his feet, her husband looked annoyingly at peace.

He was so relaxed, in fact, that he didn’t notice how busy she was, much less offer to help.

Inside her, another fire started. After her third or fourth trip, she stopped moving and lit into her husband, telling him, “Quit enjoying yourself!”

Every mom having coffee that day laughed out loud and nodded. We practically high-fived her, as if to say, “We get it, sister, we’ve been there too!” This scenario could have played out in any of our homes and, chances are, you can relate.

In many homes, this is a common dynamic. Where we live is also where we do most of our work as mothers, and from an empty fridge to a leaky faucet to a room that needs Christmas magic, something always calls for our attention.

Most of us don’t aspire to be Pinterest moms because we’re perfectly content to be Amazon Prime moms. But, as my father says, our parenting years are also our working years, and that requires a major juggling act. Even if we dial back and lower expectations, we still stay busy. We’re still managing carpools, calendars, meals, needs, emotions, problems, deadlines, home maintenance, appointments, aging parents, and a host of other responsibilities.

Throw in a sick child or a sudden crisis, and you may feel stretched so thin that you snap.

In my younger days, I didn’t believe in rest. Especially as a new mom, full of adrenaline and caffeine, my reserve didn’t feel empty because my heart felt so full. When I was tired, a nap made everything better. I was good to go again.

But with age I have changed my tune. I have seen firsthand how not making time for rest leads to burnout, exhaustion, loneliness, emptiness, and lost joy. Some exhaustion can’t be cured with a nap, a vacation, or traditional ideas of self-care. Some exhaustion seeps deeply into our bones, and only time with God and healthy lifestyle rhythms can truly restore us.

  • Sadly, we often feel like we can’t rest as moms. We worry that if we stop moving, we may crash or lose momentum.

And what then? Who will hold the family together? What if it all comes unglued? What if our rest leads to chaos and we end up more stressed than before? The mothership can’t go down!

Nobody knows the family juggling act like a mom, so we stay in motion and resign ourselves to living with overwhelm.

Clearly, this isn’t sustainable. And when we stay in this cycle, our family begins to feel like a burden. We get irritated when they enjoy themselves as we work hard. We become the resentful moms that we swore we would never be. We look at old pictures from our teenage years and wonder what ever happened to that happy, carefree girl.

She is still there, ready to enjoy life again, but right now she may be buried beneath the demands of motherhood. She may need a way out and permission to just be.

  • Believe it or not, the world will keep turning if you rest.

Your family won’t go up in flames, and you won’t lose momentum.

Instead, you’ll recharge. You’ll gain some distance from your stress and later laugh as you share stories over coffee. You’ll feel lighter as you bond with other moms over the highs and lows of life.

In the Bible, Jesus talked about rest and giving our burdens to Him. He modeled healthy lifestyle rhythms by taking spiritual, physical, and mental breaks. Since people always needed Him, He set boundaries around His time. He showed us how to rest, even in times of pressure.

  • Before choosing the twelve apostles, Jesus retreated to a mountaintop to pray all night. (Luke 6:12–13)
  • In the middle of a fierce storm with His disciples, He fell asleep on a boat. (Matthew 8:24)
  • After hearing about John the Baptist’s death, He withdrew on a boat to grieve in a solitary place. (Matthew 14:13)
  • He ate His last meal before death with only His disciples. (Matthew 26:17–29)
  • He kept the Sabbath holy. (Luke 4:16)

Two sisters named Mary and Martha had opposite responses when Jesus visited. While Martha, the practical and efficient sister, busily prepared for the Lord, Mary just wanted to sit at His feet. Martha resented her sister for not working. She asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her.

Jesus said, “Martha, Martha . . . you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” — Luke 10:41–42 NIV

  • Rest is essential to everyone’s health. It recalibrates the soul, amplifies God’s voice, and helps us find peace at the feet of Jesus.

Next to His enormous love, everything else feels small. Worries, demands, and fears shrink into their rightful place.

Rest has never felt more elusive because we live in a world of unrest. Besides your family and personal responsibilities, you face twenty-four/seven demands for your time — nonstop emails, beeps, and notifications — that make everything feel urgent.

It is not all urgent, and with God’s help you can prioritize what is important over what is urgent. You can set healthy boundaries that prevent interruptions from bleeding into your life. What someone else considers “urgent” may not be part of God’s plan for you, and rather than let outside demands drive your schedule, you can make time to retreat and listen to Him.

Life is too short to live with your hair on fire. You are too loved by God to never take a break. You are a human being, not a human doing, and while there is certainly a time to work, there is also a time to stop, breathe, pray, and give thanks for your life.

Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world. — Psalm 46:10 NLT

  1. Aundi Kolber, Try Softer (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2020), 115.

Excerpted with permission from More Than a Mom by Kari Kampakis, copyright Kari Kampakis.

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Your Turn

Are you worried that your life will go up in flames if you regularly rest or even just take a single rest? I spent years that way, so I get it! But, Jesus modeled rest for us. We have to prioritize taking care of our minds and bodies, our spiritual health, spending time in quiet with Jesus, and doing fun things that refresh us. Give yourself permission! Come share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you about rest! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full

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