This is for all of us “weary ones” who do far more than we should because to stop “doing” would mean to start “being.”
Can I stop working multiple jobs in order to have a supposedly comfortable living? When I started this pace over twenty years ago, no one told me the toll it would take on my ability to rest. No one warned me that I might forget how to relax and have fun. Surely there are better ways to ration your days.
Can I stop doing things for my child that he is perfectly capable of doing for himself? Can I stop that now that he is entering young manhood? I haven’t seen that it leads him into any reciprocated acts of service. It merely trains him to expect me to do everything. What would happen if I just stopped? I’d lose some aspect of my sense of purpose, that’s what. I need to lose it, though, and find better aspects of purpose. His own senses of adequacy and purpose require me to stop.
Can I stop feeling guilty for the ways I might have chosen poorly in my past or acted without any thought at all towards consequence? I have adopted a hyper-responsible persona to cover up that side of myself … my history … but I don’t want to always be the responsible one. I don’t seek or endorse recklessness. But I do seek freedom for myself and for those in my sphere of influence. Can I stop being repressively responsible now?
Can I stop fearing loss now and start using all of my resources fearlessly? I’ve lost things I can never get back. I cannot remake my firstborn son, though I wish with my whole heart that I could. I cannot return to my youth and fix any of the things I broke. While I sit, empty, feeling the weight of my losses, slowly but surely I forget all the treasures I’ve hoarded or hidden away, the gifts I’ve been given that are surely meant to be of great value to me in this life. Can I stop fearing loss now and boldly put all of my gifts to full use?
Better yet, can I stop chasing “improvement” or “success” and find contentment in merely being, whether I accomplish any more accolades in life or not? Can I let go of dreams of how life was supposed to be and embrace every day enthusiastically for what it offers?
Jesus not only gives us permission to stop these behaviors. Jesus invites us into the way of rest and contentment:
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:28-29 (NRSV)
“Can I stop?” is the wrong question. Rather, the question is, “Will I go in the way Jesus invites and teaches?”
Weary friends, we can’t afford not to.