Self-care, me time, time out… I was hearing these words bantered about on blogs and TED Talks and I trusted the good science connecting rest and health, but I was left wondering: How can I squeeze in one more thing? I was trying to meet the needs of my children, work part-time, maintain friendships, protect my marriage, spend time with Jesus, walk 10K steps… this felt like One. More. Thing.
I realized if I was going to rest, I needed to do it alongside my husband instead of apart from him. So many years ago, we established a nightly ritual which eventually became a signal to my body to stop. Stop over-functioning. Stop multitasking. Just rest. Here’s how, after a busy day of managing our household, our work lives, and our outside relationships, we move into a posture of rest and renewal.
This is an important part of our evening practice. It’s been said a woman’s brain has many screens open simultaneously. For me to rest, I need to close out some of those windows. I do that, in part, by debriefing and downloading with my husband about my day. Sometimes I resolve what’s lingering in my mind, other times I just want someone else to share in what I’m carrying, and sometimes it prompts me to make a note for the next day. Debriefing my experiences, feelings, and thoughts from the day leads me to a place of rest.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2
We make a decision at a certain hour to put our phones on “do not disturb” and not answer our door unless a child is bleeding. Becoming technologically unavailable to coworkers/extended family/friends/ neighbors allows me to focus my energy on my primary relationship–my husband. It’s taken some work, but we’ve taught our children to ask for help on homework, or rides, or even to process something earlier in the evening, when we are at our best and they can have our full attention.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:2-3
I usually prefer inactivity as a form of rest, but my husband relaxes best in motion. This means a couple of laps around our neighborhood every evening while he releases pent-up energy he’s stored up sitting at a desk. The fresh air is good for us and coming home having used those muscles allows us to really relax when we finally get in bed.
“She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.” – Proverbs 31:17
This is our most important ritual, and we usually do it after we’ve downloaded and debriefed. It’s a time when, before the Lord, we give Him what we can’t solve that day and what still weighs on our hearts. We tend to go back and forth, each whispering a few sentences of thankfulness or petition. Not only does it connect our hearts, but it brings us into a position of rest before the throne.
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’” – Jeremiah 6:16
Lastly, we make sure that there is affection between us. We know from good brain research what happens when we are touched by someone safe and loving. It releases all the right chemicals in our brains and signals to us all the right messages. I don’t want to go through my day and fall asleep without having responded physically to how I feel about him.
“I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.” – Song of Solomon 7:10
These rituals give me my deepest breath of the day. They anchor me to my spouse. They reset me before God. They stop me from holding onto too much, and they remind me I am not a machine. I am a woman who needs to rest and restore for the next day.