Growth Isn’t Linear

For the past three months I’ve been stuck in a word desert. Since I’m not in a creative writing class, I’ve rarely needed to write for school; my journaling has been limited to once a week; and I’ve blogged a grand total of twice this entire semester. I’d love to say that my lack of words stems from being busy, but that’s simply not true. For the past seven years I have made space in my life to write, busy or not. The truth is that I feel like my words have completely dried up.

However, in the midst of my word desert, God has led me to the blog of someone who is able to say the things I’m struggling to articulate. Her name is Kayla Zilch, and she’s a World Racer. (For those of you who have never heard of the World Race, click here.) A few weeks ago I randomly read one of Kayla’s blog posts, and then another, and another, until I finally went back and read them all. A common theme that runs through all of Kayla’s posts is a unflinching commitment to proclaim the truth about God, herself, and the world. Her posts tend to hit me where it hurts in the best possible way.

In this tough season of medical issues and unanswered questions I have really been battling self-pity, but Kayla’s posts have given me the Kingdom-perspective I need so desperately. She’s pulled me out of my little world, and helped me look past my own suffering to see a broken world that needs Jesus, the one who makes our suffering bearable.

God has used quite a few of Kayla’s blog posts to speak into my life, but there is a line in one of them in particular (called Jesus Wants You to Nap) that I keep coming back to. The line is, “Don’t worry about what other people think when they see you taking what you need.”

Just a quick caveat, I often struggle with the word need because all too often in our culture we confuse our wants and our needs. So, just to make sure we’re on the same page, when I talk about needs in this post, I’m referring to those things that are essential to my physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual well-being. Things like an extra hour of sleep, or a day where I take a break from homework, or a morning run, or a heart-to-heart with a dear friend. These things may not be absolutely necessary for my survival, but they are key ingredients for me to thrive.

Now I don’t know about you, but oftentimes I struggle to take what I need. I am a hard worker. And I don’t say that in a “look at how great I am” way. No, that statement comes from a place of “I need help because I don’t know how to not work.” I have always prided myself on my work ethic, and in many ways it is a wonderful trait that has served me well, but at the same time, my inability to stop working has often pushed me into a very unhealthy place.

For several years now God has been teaching me about the importance of Sabbath. In Exodus 20:8-11 He says:

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

I’ve always known that Sabbath is a commandment, but the more I live, the more I see why God built Sabbath into the rightful order of the world. We need it! But that doesn’t mean resting is always easy. In our modern world resting (or taking what we need) has to be an intentional choice.

As hard as it is for me to take what I need, I am learning. Some days I fail. I let expectations, deadlines, perfectionism, and stress rule my life. But growth isn’t linear. The path I travel is meandering, and much more circular than I want it to be. But whenever I get disheartened at my apparent lack of progress, I can look back and see that, over the course of time, I have grown.

And honestly, every day I am presented with a choice. So today I’m choosing to be ok with taking what I need. I’m going to fully feel the joy of being in the Midwest with some of my favorite people on the planet. I’m not going to constantly apologize for having such a complicated diet right now. I’m going to do some homework, but then set it aside to write, or hang out, or just be and not feel guilty about not spending every spare moment working. And I’m going to embrace this season, even when I’m struggling to make sense of it, because there will never be another season like this one, and I don’t want to miss a minute!

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