An Invitation to Choose Rest
I have a hard time answering people who ask me how writing and releasing my first book has been. I know what I ought to say, what others are hoping I’ll say: That it’s been a dream, that I’m so grateful, that it’s been an incredible life experience.
And maybe my hesitation to say so proves my lack of gratitude. After all, I dreamed of writing a book and that dream actually came true! It has been a rich, life-giving experience to offer my vulnerabilities—my story—to the world and see that my story matters, that God is using it.
And still, if you want to ask how the past year has been, how I’ve handled the process of releasing a book while balancing motherhood and my internal drive for perfection? My answer would be: It has been hard. It has been emotionally taxing.
I am weary.
When people ask me how this process has been, I generally say, “It has been hard and wonderful and a steep learning curve.” What I mean is that I’m still figuring it out, I’m still learning to understand my desire for rest.
While I wrote the book, I told myself: I will work hard for this season. I know I will not sleep as much as I want to. I won’t spend as much time with my kids as I want to. I’ll work as hard as I possibly can. I’ll finish the book and then I’ll rest.
But then I turned the final manuscript in and realized that I was expected to market and promote my book. So I worked. I dropped out of Moms Group and put my kid in more days of preschool. I wrote and made connections. I sent my book out to All The People. And I thought: I’ll work as hard as I can and then when the book releases, I’ll rest.
Then the book released. I made it through the first two weeks and all the hoopla. It was exciting and fun and tiring. And then the opportunities appeared. I received invitations: I could write for this journal or that magazine. I could speak in this place or that place. It felt like my career was taking off, just as I’d always hoped it would.
And I found myself staring at blank screens with nothing to say. At all.
I had nothing to say. But how do you stop? When the opportunities are finally showing up? When your Twitter base is finally growing? Can you really stop?
I realized this: No one is ever going to give me permission to rest. I’ve been waiting and waiting for the writing world to say, “It’s time, Micha!” and it’s suddenly occurred to me that no one is going to say it. I have to choose it because I know myself. I have to recognize when I’ve worked enough. I have to choose rest, even if it’s a risk, even if it hurts.
It’s the same for all of us, isn’t it? When this season of our kids’ lives is over. When this big project at work is over. When life slows down a bit. Then we’ll rest.
And does life ever really slow down? Does anyone ever really give us permission? We have to choose rest for ourselves. Rest is always a risk.
I have been blogging for four years and I’ve been doing it because I love the process. I love the challenge of daily writing deadlines. I love the opportunity to use my voice, to build community with you, my generous audience. I love working out my faith within a public dialogue.
But I’ve noticed that I’m putting more and more pressure on myself when I write here. I’m writing from a place of fear. What if no one reads this? What if my words stop mattering? Platform building can so quickly take precedent over the real reasons I am a writer. I want to choose to rest in order to remind myself that God is inviting me to write words that give life and goodness and beauty to my readers, not fear.
This is going to be my last post for a while. I’m planning to take most of the summer off from blogging. I’m going to do what I’ve been longing to do for good long while now. I’m going to rest.
I’m going to practice making it my “ambition to lead a quiet life,” which for me means choosing not to listen to the voices telling me I need more Twitter followers, or Likes, or visitors to my blog. It means letting my voice speak a little more quietly for a while so that I can learn humility and hospitality and spaciousness.
I’ll be popping in and out around here. (I’d love for you to subscribe over there on the right hand margin so that you can know when I post new things. Every once in a while, I’ll have a guest post to share. For instance, I’ll be at Margaret Fienberg’s blog this Friday.) I’ll also be on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram from time to time. But I’m releasing the expectation. I’m releasing the “job” that blogging has become for me.
I’m making space so that I can hear God’s voice and love my family well and think new thoughts that (I hope) will one day be written down in new books and new places.
Of course, I’ve thought through the risks of this choice over and over. What if you, dear readers, go away and never return? What I show back up in the middle of August and some brighter, louder voice has taken my place in the chaos of the blogosphere?
And this is what I’ve remembered, what I’ve said to my fearful self: I don’t want to be driven by fear. I want to be driven by purpose and joy. I don’t think every writer needs to take long pit stops. Some can just go and go. Some can move from one project to the next with ease. But I’m learning this about myself. I need time. I need space. I need some freedom. Only then can I catch the vision for the next thing that needs to be written.
I want to rest bravely. I want to rest with boldness. I want to dare the Internet to move along without me. I’ll come back and I may have to run a little to catch up. But it will be wholehearted pace.
And that’s what I want. To live whole. To write whole. To work, not from a place of scarcity, but from a place of contentment and spaciousness. After all, rest is always an invitation.
I’ll see you from time to time, friends. And then, I’ll see you in late August.