A Heart at Rest
For the third week in a row I am compelled to write about rest. This word replays in my mind more than any other as I continue on with bed rest. Rest goes beyond being horizontal; it begins in the mind, it begins with our focus.
Today, rest has assumed a connotation beyond the physical. I came across an article that discussed one of the main focuses of the book Captivating. I would really like to pull this book out and flip through the pages for some reminders and encouragement. That would be easier, one, if I could physically dig through storage (this belly is having more and more of a presence) and two, if I had any clue as to which box it was packed in. But for now, a summary of the book that I found online will have to suffice:
“Every woman was once a little girl. And every little girl holds in her heart her most precious dreams. She longs to be swept up into a romance, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, to be the beauty of the story. Those desires are far more than child’s play. They are the secret to the feminine heart.
And yet how many women do you know who ever find that life? As the years pass by, the heart of a woman gets pushed aside, wounded, buried. She finds no romance except in novels, no adventure except on television, and she doubts very much that she will ever be the Beauty in any tale.
Most women think they have to settle for a life of efficiency and duty, chores, and errands, striving to be the women they “ought” to be but often feeling they have failed. Sadly, too many messages for Christen women add to the pressure. “Do these ten things, and you will be a godly woman.” The effect has not been good on the feminine soul.
But her heart is still there. Sometimes when she watches a movie, sometimes in the wee hours of the night, her heart begins to speak again. A thirst rises within her to find the life she was meant to live the life she dreamed of as a little girl.
The message of Captivating is this: Your heart matters more than anything else in all creation. The desires you had as a little girl and the longings you still feel as a woman are telling you of the life God created you to live. He offers to come now as the Hero of your story, to rescue your heart and release you to live as a fully alive and feminine woman. A woman who is truly captivating.”
To rescue your heart and release you to live as a fully alive and feminine woman. An overarching them in this book is that a heart at rest is truly beautiful and alive. How many of us long for this? How many of us strive for this when the answer is found by doing quite the opposite, by resting, by refusing to chase after something that is attainable only when we are still?
Failing to feel we measure up to expectations is one of the primary ways that we are attacked as women today. We have a picture in our minds of what the perfect woman “should” be, the majority of which is based on what we have subtly been taught for years through media and comments from others. This ranges from what we look like to how we dress to the profession we pursue to the income level of ourselves or spouse to health habits to how we raise our children and the list goes on. Did you ever stop to think where we got these ideas and how they got so much traction in our lives? All this striving only leads to an ugliness that cannot be covered with makeup, an increase in pay or one more trip to the gym.
I guess another reason why these thoughts have surfaced again recently is because I am thinking more and more about how we want to raise our children. Some of the best parenting advice we have received is to be the people God has called us to be, the kind of men and women we would like our children to emulate. What I believe will be clearly seen by our children, and they will learn similar thought processes and habits. I must say that I had excellent role models in this. My parents placed very little emphasis on appearance. While they encouraged us to strive for excellence, they never lead us to believe that our worth was found in the clothes we wore, our profession or any of the other places we search for value.
We are shaped by millions of tiny events and subliminal messages throughout the course of our lives. Even when we “know” something is false, it is too easy to buy into the lies of the world and unfortunately, even our closest friends. Knowing or unknowingly, people’s comments over the years have shaped us, as have our remarks about ourselves and others. I am sure you can all remember comments people have made to you, maybe as early as elementary school, that you still hold on to.
Let’s pause right here. So far we have discussed others-what they say and what they think and therefore what we think about ourselves. And therein lies the problem: we let other people define who we are and what we believe. All the striving and chasing for the approval of others is an ever changing target and unattainable goal. Yes, it is true that we are at the very least responsible for our words. We can resolve to only make positive comments to others, being one less negative that people have to endure. At some point, if we want to truly be at rest from unrealistic expectations, no matter what has happened in the past, we must take responsibility for how the words of others have taken root by redefining what we have deceptively believed and where we have mistakenly placed our worth.
While easier said than done, we can never truly rest until God is our audience of one. Being in Christ means we already have God’s approval: While we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Psalms 46:10 says to, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Be still. Cease striving.
God knows each of us intimately. We are knitted together perfectly and wonderfully (Psalm 139). Whew! Breathe this truth in! The only One we should seek the approval of created us, knows us and already loves us more than we can ever imagine. Furthermore, He is the only One who can help us redefine worth, beauty, success, or anything else that has been falsely characterized.
Let’s continue in this journey by remembering He has called us to rest. Be still. Cease striving. And start enjoying a heart that is alive because it is at rest in the hands of the One who defines all things.