An Invitation to Less and Rest

"What would you do if you had more free time?"

It was warm outside but surprisingly pleasant in the shade. We sat there, just the two of us, and I liked it better that way. I like when we're sitting still but the restaurant buzzes around us. Those moments make me feel centered.

He paused for a while and I watched his eyes roll towards the back of his head. Not out of annoyance but out of thoughtfulness, his eyes straining backwards to find an answer somewhere deep within him.

He said, "Maybe read more. That’s all. I already do exactly what I want to do.”

His answer was so refreshing and pure and good and right that I blinked back tears.

Thankfully our food arrived and I dodged him returning the question back to me. Had I answered I would’ve been prepared with a laundry list of activities. I want to read more, cook more, exercise more, write more, spend more time with God, spend more time with friends, etc. I want to be better, more wholehearted, healthier, and for so long I’ve been under the impression that the only way to arrive at those places is by doing more and being less.

Be less selfish, less opinionated, weigh less, talk less.

Invest more time, spend more money, work more, serve more.

And yet chasing after more has left me feeling like a lesser version of myself, a tired, grumpy, detached, disinterested and distracted version of myself.

There has to be more to life than more.

For so long I chased responsibility, productivity, and adulthood. I thought that if I could just get it right, if I could be everything to everyone, if I could do enough, no, more than enough, then that would finally be enough. Then I would finally be enough.  

I spent my days doing the right thing in hopes that I would finally get it right. All I wanted was to put my head on the pillow and feel a deep sense of rest in my bones. I was routine and regimented. I was responsible and restricted.

But at the end of my life I would never want someone to say, “Hannah was so responsible and exacting and productive.” Yet I’ve steered my ship in that direction for far too long. How we spend our days is ultimately how we spend our lives and mine was spent exhausted.

I’m not there yet. In fact, it would be just like me to sprint hard after a new season of rest and wear myself out trying to find balance. I’m learning to set my perfectionism aside because it doesn’t do anybody, particularly the real me hiding beneath the surface, any good. Here are the few promises I’m making to myself this season:

No more more.

My life and my body are so pumped full of more that I can't even get to the bottom of who I am. Though I feel raw I don't feel real and I'm tired of numbing myself with more when all I'm after is less.
Less stuff. Less stress. Less sprinting.
More real. More rest. More relationships- with myself, with those who matter most, and with a God who wired me to enjoy those things.
I've spent too long feeling stuffed but unsatisfied.

Relationships over routine.

It took me sitting in a room of strangers to realize that I’ve chosen routine over relationships for far too long. Routine is safe and easy. There’s nothing vulnerable about choosing to do the dishes. There’s no sacrifice in grocery shopping.

I’m quick to choose those things because they’re convenient. But none of those things give me life. Things like people and purpose make I feel the most at home. It took me sitting in a room full of strangers who were willing to display the brave and beautiful work of vulnerability for me to realize just how much relationships had taken a back seat to responsibilities in my life.

In the words of a dear friend, it’s time to choose relationships over routine.

I’m done choosing hustle over heart.

I can't have it all. 

When I say it out loud it sounds obvious but somewhere along the way I bought into the lie that eventually I would have it all. I don’t want just some of the things. I want all of the things.

All the wine. All the travel. All the experiences. All the time. All the money. All the love.

Meanwhile I thought if I could have it all then I should be able to do it all.

Write the bestselling book. Travel the world. Lose the weight. Be the best friend.

Not only can I not have it all or do it all but I’m not supposed to. Neediness is an inherent fact of life that many Americans, particularly American women, seem to forget. We're so busy meeting everyone else's needs that we forget to acknowledge our own. 

But I have limitations. I have real physical limitations, financial restrictions, emotional capacities and a finite amount of time in any given day. All of those things combined mean I can only do the best I can with what I have where I am.

I am not limitless. My neediness is a good thing. I'm learning to look at the people around me and ask for help. I'm learning to do the hard work of giving myself grace. I'm constantly reminded that this side of heaven I’ll never be complete and that perfection will always steal my joy.

Strength is in resting, returning and remembering who we really are.

It’s not in the hustle or the grinding. It’s in the still and quiet places where we’re reminded of the truth and beauty and goodness brimming inside of us.

There's more to this life than the way it is now. This is an invitation to the less and the rest we've been longing for.