I married an RR. Our boys have those initials too. When we talk about our someday in the future, we like to dream about a place with some land that has an RR on the gate.
R & R is also a military term meaning Relaxation and Recuperation. It is often assigned to soldiers, especially after they’ve been through something rough. I believe it is often mandatory.
The 10 Commandments lists R&R right up there as a “Thou Shalt” which is just as important as say, not killing someone. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Exodus 20:8-11. Interestingly this commandment uses more ink than any other with several verses describing to us what this means. It means: take R&R, stop doing everything you do, every week.
Why are we so bad at it?
A friend just went through a pretty big surgery. Afterward she told me her biggest challenge would be to make herself rest. And, I totally understood. I’m the same way. Or, I used to be, finding it challenging to rest.
I used to burn the candle at both ends. I pushed through fatigue. I let over-responsibility and perfectionism run my life. A therapist told me that everyone, especially clergy, should take 3 hours off for every intense, emotionally charged hour with someone. I remember not even being able to digest her words because it seemed so ludicrous. So many days, every hour was filled with something difficult, intense and emotionally charged. I went through cancer treatment working full-time with that kind of stress and never thought once about it.
Now I’m better at R&R. I understand how important it is. I understand why it is a commandment. We were created to rest. It is not optional. My yoga teacher says the hardest yoga position for many people is shavasana, the corpse pose, where you literally lay on the floor and do nothing. Is it telling about us that doing nothing is harder for us any other yoga pose?
Matthew Walker is Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and Founder and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science. Our middle son, a football coach, coaxed me into listening to a podcast about this because “it changed my life.” To summarize what I learned: sleep is everything. We need 8 hours of it nightly. We cannot make it up. It is wonderful for us mentally, physically, spiritually. It is the mechanism by which our bodies reboot each night, clean out toxins, memorize important things and even the way we can enhance just about any performance. Check out Matthew Walker’s book, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams to read more. Stunningly, the average American is existing on about 6 hours of sleep or less a night. We are walking around fully unrested.
A recent entry in Jesus Calling had Jesus speaking these words: Many of my precious children have fallen prey to burnout. A better description of their condition might be “drainout” Countless interactions with needy people have drained them, without their conscious awareness. You are among these weary ones, who are like wounded soldiers needing R&R. p.139.
Is it hard for you to rest? When neuroscientists, yoga teachers, the military, God and Jesus all agree, I try to listen, because that doesn’t happen very often.
Recently, I was digging through mementos at my parents’ home and found an award from my younger brother’s kindergarten files. It was a construction paper medal that said Russell: Best Rester. I love it. Now I have a new life goal.
Dr Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller and Pace, breast cancer survivor and is currently competing for the highly coveted Best Rester award.