mom daughter dress up 3 years old

I couldn’t help but feel guilty. “Mommy, play with me!” my daughter insisted as a Barbie made its way into my tired hands. I so badly wanted to enter her pretend world and enjoy the moment as plastic Princesses Belle and Jasmine climbed up my leg, the make-believe mountain.

I quickly recited a few lines and rested my head back on a pile of pillows. I’d traveled earlier in the week and the back-to-back workdays took their toll on me. Everything from my head to my toes felt exhaustion, a stark comparison to my excited toddler overjoyed her mom came home.

“Mama, look I’m dancing. Can we go outside? Mama, I need breakfast. Finger paints!” 

Her energy overflowed, but with each new request, my weariness grew. Although she took it like a champ when I asked her to play in her toy room so I could rest, my heart grew heavy underneath the pile of blankets keeping my tired body warm.

“I should play Barbies with her. I need to send out birthday invitations. A grocery store trip is in order.” My mind didn’t hesitate to race through my to-dos, and “working mom guilt” rushed in.

I’d near convinced myself I was the worst mom on the planet before I sensed the small whisper, an inner voice speaking loud and clear,

“Stop.”

God’s view of rest

I grew up going to Sunday School where I learned how God made the world in six days and then took off on the seventh. And while I’ve gained insights over the years about the likeliness of metaphorical storytelling and that perhaps they weren’t six actual days, one detail remains crystal clear:  God rested.

He didn’t tweak the colors in the sun or ripple in more ocean waves on that last block of time; God set an example in the very beginning to show us He values rest.

When Jesus walked the earth, He emphasized the importance of rest. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest,” he said in Matthew 11:28. He didn’t guilt the weary and burdened, but He encouraged them to find peace by getting close to Him.

He taught us something very valuable lies within the slowness and stillness of life.

God values rest

Everywhere I looked, I saw God’s value of rest. As I lay on the couch, I reflected upon the animals that hibernate and the children who nap. It begged me to ask the question, “If God values rest, why don’t I? If God’s not viewed as lazy and guilty for slowing down after a long week, what does that say about me?”

They were hard but critical questions that soon brought freedom.

I realized my body didn’t only need the rest, but my heart did too. As I inhaled and exhaled, I experienced God’s peace. Working mom guilt lifted and thanksgiving arose. I felt grateful for our home and family, for childcare and a great husband. I said thanks for the career I’d been called into, and the community who supported me.

Resting brought me renewed strength.

The next day, I got off the couch and walked plastic Princess Jasmine up the pretend mountain. As she looked out across the toy room, both her and I saw the same thing:  what God calls good.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help me to embrace rest. If I carry expectations of myself that don’t line up with yours, help me to release them. Show me what it means to come to you for a lightened burden. Restore thanksgiving in my heart through rest.

We painted the room purple