On my front porch hangs a red-and-purple striped hammock swing. It sits adjacent to a dangling red starlight that reminds me of my sweet time in India a few years ago. I purchased the hammock with hopes of savoring the dwindling free time of summer. When ordering it off Amazon Prime, I imagined myself cozied up in its frame carelessly dozing off into dreamland or with my nose pressed into an engaging book.
Yesterday I was enjoying my comfortable seat while watching the late afternoon sun extend its glare through the trees. A breeze danced past my legs, cooling off the world from midday heat. Asha was napping, Chris was on an errand, and remarkably, I had a spare hour to myself. In my hand was a leather-bound journal, green Le Pen pen, and Cageless Birds Cultivate devotional. The swing moved back and forth as I read and scribbled thoughts. When I documented all I had to say to myself and to God, I paused to savor the moment of peace and consider the battle it has taken to get to this space.
I’ve begun to discover the sacred energy that arises from a season of respite.
I’m convinced that time is one of the most cherished resources that God allows us to steward in this life. We are not meant to serve away until the edges of our heart harden; instead, we are designed for both segments of relaxation and engagement.
As an adult, I’ve had a tug-of-war relationship with time. I grew up hearing the Bible verse, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” and learning that hard work with little play was the best practice for daily life. Often I’ve lusted for more time as I struggled to carry on the task at hand or I’ve yearned for more as I departed from a sweet vacation. Time has been sanctioned off on my calendar, as I wished for a reprieve or anticipated a work engagement.
This summer I’ve held time’s company in both angst and awe, fumbling with the ability to regard its precious value. I’ve worried about the judgment that might come from friends and colleagues with Chris and my choice to take a break in our wearisome journey, and I’ve anticipated the glorious opportunity. Having ample free time has provoked moments of anxiety as I’ve struggled to embody the ease of enjoying the gift, and it has led to moments of sheer delight.
My struggle with rest has made me noticeably curious about my beliefs and backward views I’ve often embodied. Notably, free time is a resource for which I long and one in which I struggle to abide. Recently, I’ve asked myself some questions: How many times a day do I seek to escape by scrolling through social media or thumbing through email? Where am I avoiding the spare moments at hand or attempting to sabotage?
I’m convinced that rest is primarily won on the battlefield of the heart, engaging with our origin, background, and story. Having free time has surprisingly led me into a season of thoughtful consideration of the patterns I’ve observed during my first 29 years of life, repentance, and healing prayer. I see clearly how the demanding lifestyle of nonprofit startup served as a justification for avoiding my contention with rest. However, the more significant work is beginning now as I tenderly attend to the portions of my heart that were arrested through abuse and trauma.
Here lies the battlefield: the attempt to verge in the opposite direction and pray for grace to catch me as I permit Jesus to show me portions of my story that I’ve long avoided. I’m pondering the places I’ve been and where Jesus is asking me to join him as I bravely step into a lifestyle of balance. I invite work and rest to coincide together, and, of course, I welcome many peaceful moments on my porch swing.
Anna Smith is Co-Founder of Restore One and serves as an advisory board member. Restore One will soon open The Anchor House, the first shelter in the nation designed to meet the needs of sex trafficked and sexually exploited American boys. Anna has a resilient passion to see sex trafficking victims experience true healing and restoration. In her spare time, Anna enjoys biking with her husband Chris, reading, cooking, throwing pottery, running and yoga. Learn more about Restore One here.