Have you ever been fully stopped, and forced to slow down in your life? To sit so still that your mind, body, and soul relent completely?
When you were forced to rest so hard that you had no choice but to cave? To release? To give up both control and power? Nothing did that more than having Covid a few months ago, when I spent the first 15 hours in bed with a fever, congestion, and my own tearful self-pity.
But by the second day, maybe the third, I remember thinking, “I haven’t been forced to rest like this in ages. Maybe, ever.” Running injuries do the same. They force me to slow down, or not run at all for weeks at a stretch. In turn, I sleep past 5 a.m. My body rests. My entire well-being breathes.
I even think back to the night before my daughter’s one-year birthday party – in June, in Louisiana – and the power having been out for two or three days throughout our town, and we were forced to slow our pace. To find a way to be still – and cool – under the circumstances.
Funny thing when our bodies and minds are forced to stop. When we are pulled from routine. When we are jolted mentally and made to restructure our lives – however minimal, however long. Without hesitation, I turn to God in these moments, knowing that in these times, I’m to praise Him for the health I have, for the rest I’m (eventually) able to accept, for the change in routine that leads me more calmly to Him. More at peace.
Even when my fever wouldn’t break when I had Covid. Even when I was slightly fearful not knowing when I would improve, or what would happen if I didn’t. Even, then.
Even when my one, and favorite, outlet of running is stripped away due to injury.
I’m able to breathe deeper. It is more controlled. The breaths out are longer. More purposeful. My eyes stay closed longer. I might not understand why things happen, but when I’m forced to rest, I am purposeful in where I know my attention needs to be drawn.
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:34)
For whatever reason you’re forced to stop, my encouragement is for you to trust. To trust where you are in that moment, and that the forced rest is part of where you need to be. Part of a greater plan. Forcing otherwise is missing an opportunity to see the work God is doing in your life. Or to see the beauty within that rest.
During the days of no power in Louisiana, our rushed life with a small child and two full-time jobs was slowed to evening neighborhood walks just to get out of a hot house. We met neighbors on our block, most of whom sat outside, away from the oppressive heat in their own homes.
We ate at local diners nearby just to enjoy the cool air inside. We laughed at the absurdity of it all. And we were calm. We caved into releasing control. And we trusted.
My hope is that when our life resumes – when health is restored, when injuries heal, when even the air-conditioning starts working again – that we don’t forget the feeling of breathing.
Of giving our control to God. All of it. Of sitting still. Of being still. Of closing our eyes, but opening our hearts. Of trusting more, and deeper.
And of understanding that stopping in all of our busyness can be the best medicine provided by our ultimate healer.